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date: 25 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The law and literature movement is less active in Roman studies than in modern national languages despite the importance of ancient Rome for subsequent traditions. This chapter hopes to spur further research by surveying a range of representative topics individually familiar to Latinists, but whose interconnections become clearer under the “law and literature” rubric. These are: discursive media; censorship; law and theatricality; educative fictions; typology, exemplarity and moral reasoning; transformations in the public sphere. The Romans perceived law’s interaction with literature in terms that range from homology, to contestation, to intimate discomfort. Both do things with stories, both serve as normative vehicles, and fiction cannot rigorously disambiguate between these discourses. The Romans, however, were acutely aware of how formal differences affected pragmatic outcomes. A strong articulation of literature as ineffective over against the law’s power emerged during the Augustan period and was formative for modern conceptualisations.

Keywords: law and literature, Latin literature, narratology, speech act theory, custom, public sphere, freedom of speech, moral reasoning, norm, fiction

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