Greek politicians in the second century b.c.e. increasingly turned to Roman authorities in order to defeat their political opposition. Charges of demagoguery and socio-economic revolution became commonplace in these political struggles in the presence of Roman authority. This evidence provides a key to understanding a famous inscription dating to 144/143 b.c.e. (Syll. 684), which records a letter from the Roman praetorian proconsul to Macedonia, relaying his ruling on recent civil unrest in Achaean Dyme. More importantly, Greek appeals to Roman power, such as we find in Syll. 684, support a model of second-century Roman imperial expansion in Greece focusing on the imperial periphery rather than the imperial metropole.
Cicero's Verrine Orations offer a glimpse into the complex political posturings surrounding the reception of Greek art by Roman audiences. Cicero downplays his own (legitimate) collecting habits, and accuses Gaius Verres, the corrupt governor of Sicily from 73–71 bce, of abusing his political office by looting the island's art treasures. One example that particularly disturbs Cicero is the theft of a statue of Sappho, commissioned by the Syracusans from the early Hellenistic sculptor Silanion for their town hall. This theft is shown to be part of a pattern in Verres' behavior, as he repeatedly removes public images of women and female divinities from their civic or cultic sites of honor, and transfers them to his private dwelling. The language of sexual exploitation pervades Cicero's narratives as he argues that Verres perverts the statues by using them for private delectation. Because Verres leaves behind the inscribed base of the Sappho statue, she may no longer be identifiable as the archaic lyric poet once she has been carried off to Rome. Verres' inappropriate passion for Greek artwork, according to his accuser, destroys the statue's identity as a famous female poet from archaic Greece, and reduces it to a nameless female body, a victim of imperialism and greed.
When most of the new intellectuals of the sixth and fifth centuries adopted the new medium of literary prose to express their opinions about natural philosophy, theology, and history, the philosopher Xenophanes of Colophon continued to voice his new ideas about divinity and nature in verse. Xenophanes does not remain bound to verse through habit or through his inability to compose serious work in the new medium of prose or through his dependence upon the Muses for his information. He is an enthusiastic reformer who is committed to correcting the Greeks' beliefs about divinity and nature, and during his time verse still provided advantages over prose for reaching a mass audience, in large part, because of its age-old performative nature.
Pursuing Livy's explicit statement on the exemplary value of history in pref. 10, this essay examines how Livy projects exemplary lessons through his characterization of Romulus. I argue that Livy has shaped his narrative to present Romulus as an exemplary figure worthy of imitation because he always successfully acted for the good of Rome. Acts that might seem morally questionable (such as the abduction of his neighbors' daughters) are to be understood as valuable for their strengthening of the city; patriotism makes moral demands of its own. Thus Romulus's exemplary value is not morally simple, but includes the consideration of his motives and the results he achieved. I conclude by suggesting that such a characterization would have been highly resonant at the time of its composition, for it proposes a standard by which the victor at Actium could be measured.