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Gestures and Acclamations in Ancient Rome
     

Gestures and Acclamations in Ancient Rome

by Gregory S. Aldrete
 

Life in Rome was relentlessly public, and oratory was at its heart. Orations were dramatic spectacles in which the speaker deployed an arsenal of rhetorical tricks and strategies aimed at arousing the emotions of the audience, and spectators responded vigorously and vocally with massed chants of praise or condemnation. Unfortunately, many aspects of these

Overview

Life in Rome was relentlessly public, and oratory was at its heart. Orations were dramatic spectacles in which the speaker deployed an arsenal of rhetorical tricks and strategies aimed at arousing the emotions of the audience, and spectators responded vigorously and vocally with massed chants of praise or condemnation. Unfortunately, many aspects of these performances have been lost. In the first in-depth study of oratorical gestures and crowd acclamations as methods of communication at public spectacles, Gregory Aldrete sets out to recreate these vital missing components and to recapture the original context of ancient spectacles as interactive, dramatic, and contentious public performances.

At the most basic level, this work is a study of communication—how Roman speakers communicated with their audiences, and how audiences in turn were able to reply and convey their reactions to the speakers. Aldrete begins by investigating how orators employed an extraordinarily sophisticated system of hand and body gestures in order to enhance the persuasive power of their speeches. He then turns to the target of these orations—the audience—and examines how they responded through the mechanism of acclamations, that is, rhythmically shouted comments.

Aldrete finds much in these ancient spectacles that is relevant to modern questions of political propaganda, manipulation of public image, crowd behavior, and speechmaking. Readers with an interest in rhetoric, urban culture, or communications in any period will find the book informative, as will those working in art history, archaeology, history, and philology.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Life in ancient Rome was relentlessly public, and oratory was its heart. This study of oratorical gestures and crowd acclamations as methods of communication at public spectacles sets out to recreate vital aspects of these performances and to recapture the original context of ancient spectacles as interactive, dramatic, and contentious public performances. Investigates how orators employed a sophisticated system of hand and body gestures, and examines how the audience responded through rhythmically shouted comments. The author is assistant professor of humanistic studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Religious Studies Review - Herbert W. Benario
Aldrete has mastered his material well, and writes winningly in a straightforward manner... Every student of ancient oratory and mass communication will profit from this book.

History - Randolph H. Lytton
This [is a] well-written study of the theory and practice of rhetorical gesture and acclamation in late republican and early imperial Rome... a well-organized presentation.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801861321
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
07/27/1999
Series:
Cornell Studies in Political Economy Series
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.85(w) x 8.85(h) x 0.97(d)

Meet the Author

Gregory S. Aldrete is an associate professor of history and humanistic studies at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay.

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