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Jenn Finn Lecture: “‘The authority: whatever he said, it is not right:’ Elite and Non-elite Literary Reaction to Authoritative Regimes in the Ancient World

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
12:00 AM
202 S. Thayer, room 1010, Ann Arbor

The long history of the Ancient World experienced numerous shifts in government and political regimes. In every case, a socially stratified populace lived under a ruling party, each with their own reactive strategies. This talk will explore the different literary modes with which both elites and non-elites in Mesopotamia and the Roman Empire expressed their approval towards or displeasure with the king (as in the case of the former) or the emperor (the case with the latter). Through a comparative and diachronic study, I show that elite and non-elite interests in both cultures intertwine more than is usually recognized, even in extreme cases with elite encouragement of non-elite concerns. Ultimately it was this mutual dialogue that dictated extant narratives about royal power in the Ancient World. More significantly, textual references to authoritative regimes in both cultures reveal a consistent and continuous discourse towards power relationships that spanned many centuries.

Jenn Finn, former Mary I. and David D. Hunting Graduate Student Fellow