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Conspiracy Theory in Latin Literature

By Victoria Pagán

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: University of Texas Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

On occasion, a harried reporter contacts me to ask what I think about some present conspiracy theory infecting the republic. Explain this craziness to us, Professor. Is the United States a nation of nutcases, or what? Dinner party conversation often transpires similarly when a new acquaintance learns that I’ve written a book about conspiracy theory. ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

This book stems from my participation in the conference “Dark Powers: Conspiracy Theory in History and Fiction” at the University of Konstanz in May 2006. I am grateful to Eva Horn and Anson Rabinbach for the invitation, for the travel support, and for editing the proceedings that appeared in the New German Critique. ...

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Introduction. From Conspiracy to Conspiracy Theory

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pp. 1-22

“Why do many bad things happen to good people?”1 To this perennial question Seneca’s De Providentia is a reasoned response constructed according to the precepts of Stoic philosophy: fortune is fickle, capricious, and unstable; fate is steadfast and irrevocable; evil cannot befall a good person, since opposites do not admit each other. ...

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1. Conspiracy Theory in Action

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pp. 23-46

Conspiracy theory is naturalized in the sources so as to convey an implicit ideology; in this it is no different from other types of stories that make social, economic, or political inequality palatable, although its prevalence in the public forum and the private home testifies to a widespread recognition of its power. ...

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2. Juvenal and Blame

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pp. 47-66

Of the poet Juvenal we have fifteen complete satires and a fragment of a sixteenth, divided into five books that seem to follow in chronological order and offer a few fixable dates (for example, the murder of Domitian in 96 is mentioned at 4.153, while the consulship of Iuncus in 127 is mentioned at 15.27). ...

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3. Tacitus and Punishment

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pp. 67-88

In 61 C.E.. the urban prefect Pedanius Secundus was murdered by one of his own slaves. According to the provisions of the senatus consultum Silanianum, the entire familia would have been executed, but because he had four hundred slaves, the people protested the severity of the punishment. .1

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4. Suetonius and Suspicion

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pp. 89-118

Suspicion is a recurring theme in Suetonius’ De Vita Caesarum. From Julius Caesar to Domitian, it is inextricably woven into the fabric of the biographies, individually and as a whole. Emperors are objects of suspicion by virtue of their autocracy; however, numerous examples will attest the need to exercise suspicion. ...

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Epilogue. The Golden Age of Conspiracy Theory

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pp. 119-124

On August 9, 117 C.E., Hadrian in Syria received a letter stating that Trajan had adopted him. On August 11, Trajan died at Selinus, a city on the coast of Cilicia. The description of his symptoms (peripheral edema, hemostasis, and stroke) suggests cardiovascular disease that would explain his rapid deterioration and death.1


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pp. 125-128


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pp. 129-160


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pp. 161-174

Index Locorum

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pp. 175-178

General Index

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pp. 179-182

E-ISBN-13: 9780292739734
E-ISBN-10: 0292739737
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292739727
Print-ISBN-10: 0292739729

Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 814513153
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Conspiracy Theory in Latin Literature

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Subject Headings

  • Conspiracy theories -- Rome.
  • Rome -- History.
  • Conspiracy in literature.
  • Juvenal -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Tacitus, Cornelius -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Suetonius, ca. 69-ca. 122 -- Criticism and interpretation.
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