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The "Devotio" of Sallust's Cotta


This article considers the speech assigned by Sallust in his Historiae to C. Aurelius Cotta, cos. 75 B.C.E. and argues that our reading of the speech must proceed from a consideration of the devotio which is its logical and emotional climax. Sallust constructs this devotio as an incomplete and therefore inherently problematic act. Cotta's inconsistent and self-contradictory rhetoric draws the reader's attention to the problematic status of this non-act. Moreover, Sallust has seized an opportunity to comment upon Cicero's De Natura Deorum, in which the very same Cotta appears as interlocutor. In literary dialogue with Cicero, we find a Sallustian perspective on the role of civic religion, sincerity, and patriotism in the late Republic.