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Belgian Area of Interdisciplinary Exchanges on the Mediterranean Antiquity and its Survival
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Gents Instituut voor Klassieke Studies _____ GIKS – intensive course Methods and interpretation in Classics – 28/03/2014 PROGRAMM 28/03/2014 (Faculty Room, 1st Floor, Blandijnberg 2 Gent) * 14.00-15.30: dr. Amy Russell (Durham University): The Augustan Senate and the Ara Pacis * 15.45-16.15: Nicolas Meunier: Réflexions sur l’identité institutionnelle du tribunat de la plèbe aux premiers temps de son existence (494-367 av. J.-C.) Un certain nombre d’indices tendent à montrer qu’il exista à Rome un tribunat originel cumulant les pouvoirs civil et militaire jusqu’à la réforme licinio-sextienne (367 av. J.-C.). C’est alors seulement que la distinction entre tribuni plebis et tribuni militum aurait été réalisée, au moment-même où le consulat aurait été définitivement instauré (cf. T. P. Wiseman). Plus tard, quand commencèrent les premières mises par écrit de l’histoire de la Haute République, la réalité ancienne du tribunat originel, dont les Romains eux-mêmes n’avaient plus une idée précise, fut progressivement réinterprétée par l’anticipation une réalité plus tardive. L’influence des époques gracquienne et syllanienne sur le processus de déformation historiographique est manifeste. A lot of clues tend to show that there existed an original tribunate cumulating civil and military powers up to the licinian-sextian reform (367 BC). These powers would have been split up only at this moment, with a distinction between tribuni plebis and tribuni militum, in the same time the consulship would have been definitely created (see T. P. Wiseman). Later on, when the early Roman history started to be written, the ancient reality of the original tribunate, of which the Romans themselves didn't have an accurate idea anymore, was progressively reinterpreted by anticipating a later reality. The influence of the Gracchan and Sullan times on the process of historiographical distortion is manifest. * 16.15-16.45: Loonis Logghe: Contended Rations: Plebs, their Tribunes, and the Politics of Grain Laws in the Late Roman Republic In this paper, I shall research the political aspects of the food supply in the metropolis of urban Rome in the Late Republic (133-23 BCE). By examining the problematic elements in the explanatory models that are pervasive in studies of Republican politics, a new model shall be proposed to better interpret interaction between the elite magistrates, especially the plebeian tribunes, and other social groups such as the urban plebs. This model, which is still work in progress, is based on various theories in the social sciences, including Tilly’s (and other’s) contentious politics and North’s new institutional economics. Two features in traditional interpretations of the tribunes’ role in the various grain laws of the Roman Republic shall be closely examined. The first is the functional bias: to my knowledge, the tribunes’ motives have always been interpreted as part of an instrumental strategy. Propositions concerning the food supply were interpreted as a means to a greater end, such as further career advancement or a political base to use in advancing or legitimizing other policies. The second problem is the nobility bias: grain laws were clever initiatives by the Roman political elite (tribunes, other magistrates, or members of the senate). This image perpetuates the vision of a strongly aristocratic Roman Republic. The notion that the plebs themselves considered the grain laws as an end is usually superficially assumed, but very few scholars would agree that they could take a certain level of initiative. This paper will propose that this was possible: the plebs were themselves partly responsible for instigating grain laws. However, this will not be a simple solution of turning the top-down perspective around. I shall suggest that the tribuni plebis, the primary magistrates to deal with these issues, were confronted with much more complex mechanisms between different social groups, and that these magistrates occupied a position of institutionalized contention.