Cameo roles: Dio's portrayals of earlier senatorial authors

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  • Cassius Dio, as I think we've all figured out, had no problem talking about himself. He has lots of aspects of his life about which he's downright garrulous, including is political career and his literary endeavors. Nonetheless, as often happens with chatty people who have lived interesting lives, there are subjects one would really like to hear more about that it turns out to be very difficult to get him on to. One of these, I would suggest, is the intersection between his writing and his politics. While he does relate his writing to political events he lived through, it is often in opaque or unsatisfying ways. In particular, what continues to frustrate at least me is the question of how his various layers of criticism of the Severan regime relate to his political relationships with the various emperors, and to whatever larger world of clandestine dissent and opposition we suppose existed from the 190s civil wars right up to Alexander's reign. To what extent can Dio's history be read not as a retrospective memoir of a discontented individual, but as a document of the political culture in which it was written and circulated? In Severan Rome, what kind of political intervention did the writing of a history constitute?

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International