Bilingualism in Cassius Dio and the Second Sophistic

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  • So I start with a simple observation, which is that Dio occasionally comments on the Greek and Latin bilingualism of emperors. Marcus Aurelius is the one that originally caught my eye, and I think it’s interesting to chew on because although I admit that I have not read every single piece of imperial Greek literature, I did not associate interest in bilingualism with the Hellenocentrism that characterizes so much of this literature. But I did see in Dio’s comment on bilingualism a version of the sort of self-reflexive literary pride found in those other Hellenocentric authors: if they pride themselves on Hellenic purity and judge their subject matter in terms of degree of Hellenicity, as a Greek writer of Roman history, it is only natural that Dio pride himself on being bilingual. So naturally he appreciates this quality in emperors. When I started looking further at these passages, however, I started noticing that not all references to Greek and Latin bilingualism are positive. So first, I’ll talk about why I think Dio is a particularly interesting case to consider for responses to bilingualism and then we’ll look at some passages.

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    Conference/Workshop Presentation
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International