Memories of Future Past: Seneca the Elder and Cultural Memory

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This contribution presents a reading of Sen. suas. 6 in accordance with cultural memory theory. Each segment of this collection of responses, down to the theme itself, has been chosen to commemorate a piece of Roman history which Seneca believed lost at the time of writing, namely the moral and intellectual virtue of the Republic. By presenting arguments from declaimers which engage with Republican values ranging from nobility to honour, Seneca actively advocates for the revival of these values among his audience. What is more, the sixth Suasoria encapsulates cultural memory on multiple levels. Seneca himself acts as a mediator for memories on declamation by picking and choosing declaimers whom he deems worthy of preservation. However, the declaimers have themselves harnessed established cultural memories on Cicero in crafting their responses, and have also contributed to the font of “literary memory” by establishing the Ciceronian Epitaph, a literary sub‑genre characterised by its contrasts between mortality and immortality, its borrowings from Cicero’s own words, and its meditations on “memory” as a concept.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalRevue Interférences Ars scribendi
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2023


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