in ways appropriate to his own philosophical school. Lucian and Alciphron are here parodying
ideals of sympotic co-operation between different specialists, where playful rivalry between a range
of professional viewpoints contributes to an atmosphere of convivial harmony: e.g., see Jacob (2001)
xxii‚Ä“xxvi on Athenaeus, and Hardie (1992) 4754‚Ä“6 (discussed further in Jason K¬® nig‚Ä™s chapter, below)
on Plutarch‚Ä™s Sympotic questions.
14 j a son k onig a nd ti m w h i tm a rs h
they also seek to comprehend and express the bewildering variety of claims
to philosophical knowledge under the Empire.
In doing that, Lucian is staking his own claim to knowledge ‚Ä“ although
knowledge of a different kind, to be sure. To Ô¬Āgure, to allegorise, to encapsu-
late in narrative, is to master. In Icaromenippus, Menippus (the primary nar-
rator) describes Ô¬‚ying to the moon, while looking down upon the world and
the philosophers‚Ä™ parochial discussions. Lucian‚Ä™s satire offers a different ‚Ä“
and by implication, ‚Ä˜loftier‚Ä™ ‚Ä“ epistemological order to philosophy. Here,
as elsewhere in his work,40 Lucianic knowingness looks down upon philo-
sophical knowledge. The Hermotimus, to take another example, stages a
dialectic struggle between Lycinus (the Lucianic Ô¬Āgure in the text) and the
eponymous Stoic; inevitably Lycinus wins out, converting Hermotimus to
his view. This is not, however, a simple conversion from one allegiance
to another, but a radical refocusing: ‚Ä˜do not think I am set against the
Stoa . . . my discourse is equally hostile to all‚Ä™ (koin¬ľv ¬–p¬™ p¬Üntav ¬ĺ l¬»gov,
Lucian‚Ä™s negative epistemology, however, is itself parasitical upon phi-
losophy. In reducing Hermotimus to tears within a dialectic framework,
Lycinus is replaying the role of Socrates in the early, ‚Ä˜aporetic‚Ä™ dialogues
of Plato (and, indeed, there are also Stoic and Sceptical elements to his
arguments throughout).41 The famous apophthegm in the True stories, ‚Ä˜the
one true thing I will say is that I am telling lies‚Ä™ (1.4), is a calculated echo
of Socrates‚Ä™ claim to wisdom on the grounds that ‚Ä˜what I do not know I do
not think I know‚Ä™ (Plato, Apology 21d).42 Elsewhere, this self-consciously
Ô¬Āckle author assumes the guise of an Epicurean (in the Alexander), a Sceptic
or a Cynic,43 ransacking the closet of philosophical masks in the service of
anti-philosophical satire. Some works (Demonax, Nigrinus) even portray
certain philosophers with approbation ‚Ä“ philosophers who are, of course,
critical of (among other social institutions) other philosophers.
Lucian construes satire, we might say, as metaphilosophy. It is centrally
preoccupied with philosophical questions of truth and knowledge; but at
the same time, it exists above and beyond the mundane, interdogmatic
squabbles of the philosophical sects. This is the point of that imagery of
lunar travel in the Icaromenippus: satire is (or presents itself as) a cosmic,
universalising vision of humanity in its most pared-down form, unencum-
bered by issues of cultural, social, political or sectarian difference. In that
sense, the Lucianic worldview is as universalising, even totalising, as the
philosophical systems upon which it feeds so voraciously.
40 Cf. Nigr. 18; Astr. 13‚Ä“19; Somn. 13; more generally, Georgiadou and Larmour (1998) 15‚Ä“16.
41 42 R¬® tten (1997) 30‚Ä“1; Georgiadou and Larmour (1998) 57‚Ä“8.
M¬® llendorff (2000) 197‚Ä“210.
43 For Lucian‚Ä™s personae, see Whitmarsh (2001) 247‚Ä“94, Goldhill (2002) 63‚Ä“7.
Ordering knowledge 15
h ellenis e d kn owle dg e
Satire was not the only form of metaphilosophy. The project of compre-
hending philosophy within an overarching framework, of unifying wisdom
into a meaningful whole that transcended the sum of its parts, can be seen
in a range of synthetic works of what we have come to call (following
Hermann Diels) ‚Ä˜doxography‚Ä™. The genre developed in the Hellenistic
period, but most of the key Ô¬Āgures of the early phase ‚Ä“ Antigonus of
Carystus, Hermippus, Sotion, Sosicrates of Rhodes, Diocles of Rhodes ‚Ä“
are known to us only sciagraphically from fragments preserved in later
doxographers.44 Doxography Ô¬‚ourished in the Imperial period, notable
cases being Alcinous‚Ä™ Handbook of Platonism, Arius Didymus‚Ä™ On the philo-
sophical sects,45 Aetius‚Ä™ Collection of doctrines,46 and, most of all, Diogenes
Laertius‚Ä™ Lives and opinions of the philosophers (see James Warren‚Ä™s chap-
ter).47 Much doxographical material can also be found in miscellanies such
as Favorinus‚Ä™ Memorabilia,48 and Aulus Gellius‚Ä™ Attic nights.49 These works
have appealed to scholars particularly as sources for earlier thought.
Certainly they had their roots in the traditions of Aristotle and the Hel-
lenistic scholars,50 but there was also a strong contemporary cultural imper-
ative lying behind them, particularly relating to issues of Greek cultural
identity. In his prologue (as James Warren emphasises) Diogenes argues,
against those who see its origins as lying in the East, that philosophy is
deÔ¬Ānitively and constitutively Greek; indeed, the human race itself began
in Greece (1.3). This metaphilosophical project may be universalising in one
sense, in that it synthesises philosophy across time and place, but it is also
closely integrated with Diogenes‚Ä™ ideological programme for the present.
Diogenes constructs a symbolic empire of knowledge that emblematises
the aspirations of contemporary Hellenism.
Diogenes‚Ä™ attempt to ‚Ä˜purify‚Ä™ philosophy represents an extreme case of the
‚Ä˜invention of tradition‚Ä™.51 At the other pole, we Ô¬Ānd a radical emphasis upon
philosophical hybridity: Greek wisdom is variously said to be rooted in, or
no better than, Egyptian, Babylonian, Jewish, Indian and others. Lucian
44 Philodemus of Gadara, some of whose works are partially preserved among the Herculaneum papyri,
was also concerned with the synthesis of philosophy; for an overview see Obbink (1996) 81‚Ä“3.
45 46 Mansfeld and Runia (1997); Bremmer (1998).
Della Corte (1991).
47 Other doxographical works include, e.g., Albinus or Alcinous of Smyrna (2nd cent. ce), Digest of
Plato‚Ä™s philosophy and Introduction to Plato‚Ä™s dialogues; Atticus‚Ä™ (2nd cent. ce) work (title lost) on the
categories of philosophy; Pseudo-Galen (2nd cent. ce?), On the history of philosophy; Hierocles (2nd
cent. ce) Exposition of ethics and other works; Pseudo-Plutarch (2nd cent. ce?); Sextus Empiricus
(2nd‚Ä“3rd cent. ce), Outlines of Pyrrhonism.
48 Holford-Strevens (1997), (2003) 98‚Ä“130.
49 50 See pp. 8‚Ä“10 above.
Holford-Strevens (2003); Holford-Strevens and Vardi (eds.) (2004).
51 Hobsbawm and Ranger (eds.) (1983).
16 j a son k onig a nd ti m w h i tm a rs h
claims that philosophy originated in India (Runaways 6‚Ä“7); Numenius of
Apamea, the Pythagorean or Platonist of the second or third century ce,
famously asks ‚Ä˜what is Plato but an Atticising Moses?‚Ä™ (fr. 13 Guthrie).
An alternative strategy is to include exoticising elements within Greek
philosophy. Thus, for example, Dio Chrysostom includes what he calls a
Zoroastrian myth (though it looks, to the trained eye, rather Stoic)52 in his
Borysthenic oration (36.40‚Ä“54); and Plutarch‚Ä™s On Isis and Osiris develops
a reading of Egyptian theology that embodies nicely his own Platonist
philosophy. What we see in both positions, the purist and the exoticist, is
a metaphilosophical concern to narrativise philosophy. Philosophising is
not just an abstract intellectual practice; it also, necessarily, invites the
individual to position him- or herself within a wider web of debates. Where
does philosophy come from? How deÔ¬Ānitively Greek is it? What does our
response to these questions tell us about ourselves?
It is tempting to evaluate ‚Ä˜purists‚Ä™ like Diogenes and ‚Ä˜hybridists‚Ä™ like
Numenius in cultural-political terms. Thus Festugi`re, in his inÔ¬‚uential
and (in many ways) brilliant La R¬īv¬īlation d‚Ä™Herm`s Trism¬īgiste, presents
ee e e
the turn to alien wisdom as a failure of Hellenism, symptomatic of a general
collapse of Greek values.53 Modern readers, by way of contrast, may think
of Stuart Hall‚Ä™s distinction between conservative narratives of tradition and
pluralist narratives of cultural ‚Ä˜translation‚Ä™ and hybridity.54 Certainly, this
knot of concerns over the cultural value of knowledge needs to be located
against the backdrop of the enormous, varied empire, with its slick lines of
communication and trade routes: the experience of ‚Ä˜globalisation‚Ä™ induces
both a heightened awareness of what is shared between cultures and an
increased desire to insist on singularity. Yet it would be na¬®ve to see the
matter in simple terms of a battle between conservatives (or cultural funda-
mentalists) and multiculturalists. Both strategies are, ultimately, attempts
to encapsulate the global-imperial status of philosophy, and both are cen-
trally concerned to explore the role of Greekness in the modern world. Even
Numenius‚Ä™ apparent degradation of Plato is also an implicit argument for
the capaciousness and adaptability of Greek philosophy; it is, after all, the
form that he has chosen to express himself in.
Was the Latin language capable of accommodating philosophy? The
intellectual relationship of Rome to Greece was, broadly, that of scribal
culture to reference culture: Greece was conceived of as the originator of
52 de Jong (2003).
53 Festugi`re (1944‚Ä“54); the book evinces a tangible sense of anxiety about cultural loss, perhaps not
surprisingly given its publication date.
54 Hall (1992).
Ordering knowledge 17
ideas, Rome as the translator and interpreter. Though marked as a relative
latecomer, Roman culture could nevertheless adopt a range of strategies in
relation to Greek philosophy. Lucretius, who in the Ô¬Ārst century bce ren-
dered Epicurean philosophy into Latin hexameters, famously protests the
‚Ä˜poverty‚Ä™ of his native tongue in relation to the task in hand (On the nature
of things 1.136‚Ä“9) ‚Ä“ but still, of course, produces one of the most linguisti-
cally adventurous and adept poems of antiquity. Lucretius‚Ä™ contemporary
Cicero, on the other hand, argues that Rome can now overtake Greece in
this Ô¬Āeld (Tusculan disputations 1.5‚Ä“6). Both writers confront the paradox
later to be articulated so famously ‚Ä“ in elegant, Hellenising hexameters ‚Ä“
by Virgil‚Ä™s Anchises that Romans should leave the arts to others, and focus
on imperium (Aeneid 6.851‚Ä“2).55 Latin philosophy, however, could and did
exist in mature and conÔ¬Ādent forms, particularly in the post-Ciceronian
tradition: in the Ô¬Ārst century ce, we Ô¬Ānd, among others, the younger Seneca
writing Stoic works On anger, On clemency and on numerous other topics;
in the calmer second century, Apuleius could ruminate philosophically in
Latin in north Africa, and Aulus Gellius in Athens. Even so, each of these
writers, in different ways, manifests an anxiety, or at least a negotiation,
of Greek inÔ¬‚uence. The most extreme case is perhaps that of Apuleius,
whose philosophical works vary from creative studies of Greek thinkers
(principally Socrates and Plato) through to translations (a lost version of
Plato‚Ä™s Phaedo and ‚Ä“ if it is genuinely Apuleian ‚Ä“ an extant rendering of the
pseudo-Aristotelian On the cosmos).
It is remarkable, however, how little canonical authority Latin philosophy
achieved in the Ô¬Ārst three centuries ce (in marked contrast to later, Christian
antiquity, when Latin philosophers and theologians were the intellectual
colossi of the day). Roman philosophers did not have signiÔ¬Ācant acolytes,
nor were their books translated or commented on. The reasons for this
should be sought in the ancient practice of the division of intellectual labour
into cultural ‚Ä˜zones‚Ä™. For elite Romans, philosophy was a sophisticated, but
on occasion dangerously unRoman, pastime that could safely be practised
only in the circumscribed leisure zone of a rural retreat or a day off from
the business of empire. Through the early empire, this strict separation
between (Greek) philosophy and the proper (Roman) activity of imperial
management became all the more pronounced. The one exception is a
telling one: in the Ô¬Āeld of law alone ‚Ä“ that most pragmatic and politicised
of intellectual disciplines ‚Ä“ Greeks ceded conceptual mastery to Rome.56
See further Petrochilos (1974) 58‚Ä“62. See Millar (1999), esp. 105.
18 j a son k onig a nd ti m w h i tm a rs h
The best-known philosophers at Rome in the Ô¬Ārst century ce were
thought of, in general, as either opponents of or advisors to the emperor;
either way, the allocation of roles emphasised the differential between phi-
losophy and power.57 Despite sporadic appearances of Latin philosophy,
Greek was almost always (in the pagan era) considered the appropri-
ate language for philosophy. The Ô¬Ārst-century Romano-Etruscan knight
Musonius Rufus turned to Greek to express his Stoic thoughts.58 The
second-century Romano-Gallic knight Favorinus also chose Greek (though
he could discourse with equal competence in Latin).59 The most prodi-
gious example is that of the emperor himself, Marcus Aurelius, who chose
to write the work of Stoic philosophy we call the Meditations in Greek ‚Ä“
a work composed, so he claims, for his own beneÔ¬Āt alone. Marcus effec-
tively united the roles of Roman emperor and Greek adviser within a single
cos mic know le dg e
This tension between philosophy as a speciÔ¬Ācally Greek cultural signiÔ¬Āer
and its ambitions to a cosmic, supraparochial knowledge is exempliÔ¬Āed
most powerfully in the aspiration to what is conventionally called ‚Ä˜cos-
mopolitanism‚Ä™, a philosophy that has its roots in Hellenistic Cynicism and
Stoicism but takes root in a number of Imperial genres.61 In particular, the
exilic discourses of Musonius Rufus, Dio, Plutarch and Favorinus point
to a new intensiÔ¬Ācation of concerns.62 For these writers, the fact of penal
exile stimulates reÔ¬‚ection upon the limitations placed upon knowledge and
understanding by family, community, city and state. State persecution thus
becomes a rite of passage, an opening to a new, more intense knowledge of
the structure of nature, the world, the cosmos. As Musonius puts it,
Why should anyone who is not devoid of understanding be grieved by exile? It
does not deprive us of water, earth, air, or the sun and the other planets, or indeed,
even of the society of men, for everywhere and in every way there is opportunity
for association with them. (fr.9 = p. 41 Hense)
Empires of philosophical knowledge are evidently constructed to vie
with, even outdo, the scale of the quasi-global Roman empire: to
philosophise is to control, at least epistemologically, a territorial space that
57 58 Geytenbeek (1963).
Opposition: Macmullen (1992); Rudich (1993); advice: Rawson (1989).
59 See most recently Holford-Strevens (2003) 98‚Ä“144, with 118‚Ä“29 on his use of Latin.
60 See Whitmarsh (2001) 216‚Ä“25, with further references.
61 62 Whitmarsh (2001) 133‚Ä“80.
Baldry (1965); Stanton (1968); SchoÔ¬Āeld (1991) 57‚Ä“92; Moles (1993).
Ordering knowledge 19
exceeds the boundaries of mere political space.63 This theme is played out
to brilliant effect in Philostratus‚Ä™ In honour of Apollonius Tyana, where the
philosopher‚Ä™s travels pointedly take him beyond the outer limits of Roman
imperial control, and indeed Macedonian conquest.64 In the eastern voyage
of the early books (a voyage he conceptualised in terms of ‚Ä˜border-crossing‚Ä™,
1.18), Apollonius passes through a succession of boundaries symbolically
marking the journey into the unknown. At the ‚Ä˜borders‚Ä™ of Babylonia ‚Ä“
in both Apollonius‚Ä™ and Philostratus‚Ä™ time, the nerve centre of the deÔ¬Āant
Parthian empire ‚Ä“ he meets a frontier control (1.21). Indeed, the narrative
itself is organised around the theme of border-crossing. At the end of the
Ô¬Ārst book, Apollonius resolves to leave Babylon; at the beginning of the
second book, Philostratus refers to the Caucasus as the ‚Ä˜beginning‚Ä™ of
the Taurus (2.1‚Ä“2). At the end of the second book, Apollonius reaches
a column inscribed ‚Ä˜Alexander got this far‚Ä™ which Philostratus supposes to
have been erected either by Alexander to mark the ‚Ä˜limit‚Ä™ of his empire, or
by the Indians out of pride that he ‚Ä˜got no further‚Ä™ (2.43). The words ‚Ä˜got
no further‚Ä™ close book 2, so that Alexander‚Ä™s column also marks the end of
a book. For Greek readers, the next book travels into the radical unknown;
and it is signiÔ¬Ācant that book 3 begins with a description of the wonders
of India: the river Hyphasis, and extraordinary trees, Ô¬Āsh, worms and wild
asses, pepper trees and dragons (3.1‚Ä“9). Philostratus offers a compendium
of knowledge that takes its readers beyond the conÔ¬Ānes of Greco-Roman
political, military and epistemological control.
Apollonius‚Ä™ knowledge is predicated on his grasp of ‚Ä˜the world‚Ä™ in all
its polymorphous variety.65 The Brahmans, the sages of India who teach
him, realise that true wisdom lies in understanding not ‚Ä˜the parts of the
cosmos‚Ä™ but ‚Ä˜the intelligence that lies in it‚Ä™ (¬ĺ ¬–n a√Čt√¤i no√“v 3.34). Greek
philosophy ‚Ä“ not only Apollonius‚Ä™, but also of course the reader‚Ä™s inherited
paradigm ‚Ä“ is said by the Indians to be insufÔ¬Ācient (3.18, 3.27; cf. 2.29).
Yet as ever, the tyranny of Hellenocentrism is not so much overthrown
as subtly reconÔ¬Āgured. Indian wisdom does turn out to be suspiciously
familiar: in terms of kingship theory (2.26‚Ä“9), the Brahmans are broadly
Platonist; in terms of cosmology, broadly Stoic (3.34‚Ä“5);66 in terms of com-
munist utopianism, broadly Cynic.67 Meanwhile, we Ô¬Ānd the Indian king
63 64 See further Elsner (1997).
For the proclaimed unity of the world, see 1.15, 1.21, 6.2 (¬° g¬¦ p¬ésa ¬–d¬»kei m¬©a), 8.5, 8.7(iv).
For stoice¬±a and no√“v in Stoicism see Long and Sedley (1987) 46B, 47 (though the Indians have an
extra element (stoice¬±on)).
Cf. the Spartanising √ěv ¬–n xussit¬©wi (3.27), with Dawson (1992) 28; cf. Onesicritus at FGrH 134
F20. For Indian gymnosophists (as the Brahmans are usually called, though Philostratus locates his
gymnosophists in Egypt) as Cynics, see Muckensturm (1993).
20 j a son k onig a nd ti m w h i tm a rs h
Phraotes reading Euripides (2.32), Greek-speaking locals (3.12), statues of
Greek gods (3.13), and a whole series of assimilative comparisons between
Greek and Indian buildings and city structures (2.20, 2.23, 2.27, 3.13). Greek
wisdom does not evaporate in this text, rather it expands to colonise all
other knowledge systems: ‚Ä˜to the wise man‚Ä™, Apollonius famously com-
ments, ‚Ä˜everything is Greek‚Ä™ (1.35). Apollonius‚Ä™ cosmic knowledge extends
effortlessly beyond the realms of mortal empire.
princely kn owle dg e
The empire of knowledge did not have to vie directly with the political
empire of Rome; it could also serve it, as we saw a moment ago in the role
of philosophical advisor. The emperor and his servants employed battal-
ions of experts and scholars. For these individuals, the Ô¬Āgure of the emperor
loomed large: partly because emperors were often patrons of scientiÔ¬Āc and
literary endeavour, and because the adminstrators and technicians of impe-
rial power were always ultimately answerable to the emperor himself; but
also for the less immediately tangible reason that ideas of writerly author-
ity and ambition were often explored through and against the image of
How much did the emperors of Rome themselves know, or need to know?
In some cases it seems that a particular emperor‚Ä™s choice of which kinds of
knowledge to patronise could be used ‚Ä“ either by the emperor himself or
by those who wrote about him ‚Ä“ as an index of his most distinctive charac-
teristics.68 In Suetonius‚Ä™ biography of Claudius, for example, the emperor
chooses historical knowledge, leaving behind him an enormous history of
Rome in many volumes, begun in his youth with the encouragement of the
historian Livy.69 The most distinctive feature of this history, however, is its
incompleteness, the result of continual badgering by his mother and grand-
mother, who persuade him to leave out sensitive topics from recent history.
In Suetonius‚Ä™ account, Claudius‚Ä™ failure to match the exhaustive historical
ambitions of his mentor, Livy, is used as a sign of his lack of independence,
which is a dominant theme of the biography as a whole.70 Nero, by con-
trast, chooses performance expertise, in his increasingly obsessive interest
in Greek musical competition, as Suetonius again makes clear.71 Marcus
68 Cf. Woolf (1994) 135 on selective appropriations of Greek culture by successive emperors.
69 Suet. Claud. 41. See also Wallace-Hadrill (1983) 72‚Ä“96 on the fact that Suetonius‚Ä™ own career as a
‚Ä˜scholar at court‚Ä™ was itself in part a result of imperial patronage of scholarship on the part of Trajan
and Hadrian, a good example of imperial patronage of a particular type of knowledge.
70 71 See esp. Suet. Ner. 20‚Ä“25 and 41‚Ä“3, with Edwards (1993) 135‚Ä“6.
See esp. Suet. Claud. 29.
Ordering knowledge 21
Aurelius, as his own writings testify, chooses philosophical self-knowledge
above everything. Elsewhere, by contrast, we Ô¬Ānd the assumption that the
emperor should know everything. Suetonius‚Ä™ Augustus, for example, is
characterised by his ability to focus on many different areas of government
simultaneously.72 Nero, by contrast, at least on Suetonius‚Ä™ account, falls
short of that ideal through the narrowness of his concentration on musi-
cal skill, which leads him to neglect the military crises which are brewing
all around him.73 To some extent that image of imperial omniscience is
grounded in administrative reality, given what we know of the involve-
ment of emperors in hearing judicial appeals and diplomatic embassies
from across the Mediterranean world ‚Ä“ although this ideal of the emperor
as ubiquitous was itself a carefully orchestrated one, not least through the
omnipresence of imperial statues and inscriptions.74 It was also an ideal that
must have relied in practice on a massive exercise of delegation, a sharing
of expertise between many different specialists.
Texts dedicated to emperors often reÔ¬‚ect that process of jostling for
position between rival specialisms keen to gain imperial favour. The
idea of interrelation between author‚Ä™s knowledge and emperor‚Ä™s needs is
manipulated in a range of different ways. Often the precise specialism of
the author is represented as the thing the emperor most needs to know. That
trope casts the author as subordinate, but also allows him (it is always ‚Ä˜him‚Ä™)
to claim a kind of patriotic usefulness for his own writing, and sometimes
also to equate his own compilatory ambitions with the emperor‚Ä™s territorial
and administrative grasp.75
Some authors even take on the imagery of imperial omniscience, apply-
ing it to their own wide-ranging erudition. In this volume, for example,
Alice K¬® nig examines the imperial dedications of Frontinus and Vitruvius.
For Vitruvius, she suggests, architecture lies at the heart of empire; it is
also equivalent to the constructive political skills of the emperor Augustus.
Frontinus uses the same words ‚Ä“ ‚Ä˜diligent‚Ä™ and ‚Ä˜loving‚Ä™ ‚Ä“ to describe both
himself, in his care of the aqueduct system of Rome, and the Emperor
Nerva. Again, Maecianus‚Ä™ metrological treatise, addressed to Marcus Aure-
lius, explores (as SeraÔ¬Āna Cuomo‚Ä™s chapter shows) connections between
standardisation of measures and the establishment of political order. That
72 For just one example, see Suet. Aug. 33 on Augustus‚Ä™ painstaking personal involvement in the
administration of justice; and cf. Wallace-Hadrill (1983) 119‚Ä“25 on Suetonius‚Ä™ awareness of the wide
range of areas covered by imperial administration and his tendency to value personal participation
of emperors in them.
73 74 Ando (2000), esp. 206‚Ä“73, on images of emperor and of empire.
Cf. K¬® nig (2005) 229‚Ä“33.
75 See esp. Murphy (2004), esp. 203‚Ä“9, on Pliny‚Ä™s manipulation of the image of Titus‚Ä™ imperial authority
in the HN.
22 j a son k onig a nd ti m w h i tm a rs h
strategy can in some cases take on subversive overtones. Petronius‚Ä™ Satyrica,
as Victoria Rimell argues in her chapter in this volume, has no sign of
any speciÔ¬Āc reference to the emperor, but it too is daringly parasitic upon
the tropes of imperial self-presentation, grounding its grotesque vision of
excessive knowledge in the image of Neronian over-consumption.
k nowledge, soc ia l statu s a nd cultura l a f f il i ation
What you know says a great deal about who you are. Knowledge is inti-
mately tied up with social self-positioning. In the east of the empire, for
example, mastery of abstruse rhetorical and literary knowledge was widely
associated with social distinction.76 Socially empowering rhetorical exper-
tise ‚Ä“ publicised in its most extravagant form in the display speeches of
sophists in front of huge audiences ‚Ä“ was not only about intellectual agility,
although there are certainly numerous handbooks on matters of style,
grammar and rhetoric surviving from the period;77 it was also embod-
ied, displayed through posture and gesture and style of voice as much as
through words, absorbed and learned and constantly reperformed within
the encounters of everyday interaction and repetitive training.78 In that
sense, sophistic skill was simply a more intense form of the skills of social
self-presentation which all elite men (women too ‚Ä“ though there is less sense
in ancient sources of female identities being forged within the rhythms of
public display)79 had to learn.
76 See esp. Schmitz (1997). A huge body of technical rhetorical writing existed in the imperial period,
encompassing, e.g., works by (in Greek) Valerius Apsines of Gadara (3rd cent. ce), Aelius Aristides
(2nd cent. ce), Dionysius of Halicarnassus (1st cent. bce‚Ä“1st cent. ce), Hermogenes of Tarsus (2nd‚Ä“
3rd cent. ce), Aelius Herodian of Alexandria (2nd cent. ce), Lesbonax (2nd cent. ce), Dionysius
Cassius Longinus of Athens or Palmyra (3rd cent. ce), Menander ‚Ä˜rhetor‚Ä™ of Laodicea (3rd‚Ä“4th cent.
ce), Minucianus the younger of Athens (3rd cent. ce), Aelius Theon of Alexandria (1st‚Ä“2nd cent.
ce), Tiberius (3rd ce?), Potamon of Mytilene (1st cent. bce‚Ä“1st cent. ce), as well as the ‚Ä˜Anonymous
Seguerianus‚Ä™ (3rd ce); and in Latin, by Rutilius Lupus (1st cent. ce), Suetonius and Tacitus.
77 See Kaster (1988); Swain (1996), 43‚Ä“64. For rhetorical works, see previous n.; for lexicographical
works, see below, n. 92. Grammatical works in Greek are transmitted or attested by, e.g., Ammonius
(1st‚Ä“2nd cent. ce), Apollonius ‚Ä˜Dyscolus‚Ä™ of Alexandria (2nd cent. ce), Aristonicus of Alexandria
(1st cent. bce‚Ä“1st ce), Hephaestion of Alexandria (2nd cent. ce), Heraclides of Miletus (1st‚Ä“2nd