Reference : Dominus and tyrannos? Narratives of slavery in the political discourse of Late Antiquity
Scientific Presentations in Universities or Research Centers : Scientific presentation in universities or research centers
Arts & humanities : History
Dominus and tyrannos? Narratives of slavery in the political discourse of Late Antiquity
Binsfeld, Andrea mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences (FHSE) > Department of Humanities (DHUM) >]
Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture Series
Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
[en] Slavery ; Late Antiquity ; Narrativity
[en] In her book “Arbitrary Rule. Slavery, Tyranny, and the Power of Life and Death”, the author Mary Nyquist describes the pairing of slavery and tyranny as "political slavery” and distinguishes it from the institution of slavery. She shows how the concept of political slavery has been used to describe political oppression since ancient times. Terms from the field of slavery were used by opposition groups to identify the tyrant. Nyquist also analyses the persistence of this concept and traces back its use in political philosophy and in literature from Greek and Roman antiquity to the early modern period. Political slavery became part of the tyrant topos.
Authors from Late Antiquity give us many examples of how firmly images of slavery were rooted in the minds of contemporaries and how these images were incorporated into literary tradition and political discourse. Images from the world of slavery were applied in a wide variety of contexts, from criticism of an emperor's behavior or illustrating his loss of authority to characterizing the relationship between two emperors at a time when power was divided between pairs or quartets of emperors. The lecture will show how the presentation and perception of emperors of Late Antiquity, such as Diocletian and his co-emperors, were influenced by narratives from the world of slavery.

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