Public meetings in ancient Rome : definitions of the contiones in the sources

Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2013, vol. 18, iss. 1, pp. [75]-84
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
License: Not specified license
At the present time the contio – a type of political meeting in ancient Rome – attracts close attention of scholars. It is difficult but important to determine exactly which meetings were considered as contiones. Possible solution to this problem is a key part in understanding the specificity and role of contiones. Fortunately we have a few direct contiones' definitions offered by ancient authors (Marcus Valerius Messalla Rufus, Verrius Flaccus, Sextus Pompeius Festus and others). Through the study of these definitions the paper attempts to ascertain criteria for the identification a meeting as a contio. The aim of the research is to find universal essential features, i.e. those which described not some, but any contio: its audience, convener and general purpose. Therefore attention is paid to the criteria which are the least strict, noted in most definitions, and do not contradict the descriptions of particular contiones. It is concluded that definitions found in the Roman sources provide important information which is, however, insufficient for understanding what meetings were considered by the Romans as contiones. A strategy of subsequent study of the issue is also suggested.
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