Siobhan McElduff

Associate Professor

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Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Ex Manubiis: Literary Representations of Flavian Spectacle (2015)

The Roman emperor Vespasian was declared emperor in absentia at the end of 69 CE, the Year of the Four Emperors; he was the first man from outside the Julio-Claudian family to hold imperial power for more than a few months, remaining in power until his death in 79 CE and succeeded by his son Titus. Vespasian won the conflict with military force, but once in power he faced the unique challenge of demonstrating the legitimacy of his reign without the pedigree of an old Roman family name to draw upon, and so he relied on other means of stabilizing his power. Vespasian returned to Rome bearing an influx of wealth from the Judaean War, and he funded lavish spectacles and buildings like the Colosseum from the spoils (ex manubiis). Vespasian’s buildings and spectacles were impressive displays of his wealth and generosity to the people of Rome, but spectacles can only awe and impress the immediately present audience in Rome for the short time that they last; the Colosseum stays standing as a reminder, but it is inert without its shows. Written descriptions of the spectacle, on the other hand, could travel widely and cheaply, extending the reach of Vespasian’s grand displays through time and space. This thesis is concerned with two such pieces of writing: Josephus’ description in Bellum Judaicum of Vespasian and Titus’ double triumph in 71 CE; and Martial’s Liber Spectaculorum, a collection of epigrams about the inaugural games of the Colosseum in 80 CE. I argue that these literary representations of spectacle effectively reproduced the original spectacles for the reading audience through a variety of rhetorical and literary techniques, ultimately presenting an affirmative view of Flavian rule over the Roman empire, and Roman rule over the world.

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Laceratio Famae: Invective as facework in Cicero's In Pisonem. (2013)

No abstract available.

Summa absolutaque naturae rerum contemplatio: A close study of Pliny the Elder's Naturaliz Historia 37. (2013)

The focus of modern scholarship on Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia tends towards two primary goals: the placement of the work and the author within the cultural context of late 1st century CE Rome and, secondly, the acknowledgement of the purposeful and designed nature of Pliny’s text. Following this trend, the purpose of this study is to approach Book 37, in which Pliny lists and categorizes the gems of the world, as a deliberatly structure text that is informed by its cultural context.The methodology for this project involved careful readings of the book, with special attention paid to the patterns hidden under the surface of Pliny’s occasionally convoluted prose; particular interest was paid to structural patterns and linguistic choices that reveal hierarchies. Of particular concern were several areas that appealed to the most prominent areas of concern in the book: the structure and form of the book; the colour terminology by which Pliny himself categorizes the gems; the identification of gems as objects of mirabilia and luxuria; and the identification of gems as objects of magia and medicina. These topics are all iterations of the basic question of whether gems represent to Pliny positive growth on the part of the Roman Empire, or detrimental decline. The results show the text is deliberately written and structured according to a contradictory narrative that defines gems as both beneficial and detrimental, agents of cure and contamination, expressions of expansion and decline. Pliny’s final purpose in Book 37, then, is to acknowledge gems as the embodiment of diuina Natura and to describe their usefulness to humankind, while simultaneously cautioning the Roman audience against the corruption and destructive power of the outside world.

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