The Role of Philhellenism in the Political Invective of the Late Roman Republic

Open Access
Gatzke, Andrea F.
Graduate Program:
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
June 17, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Garrett Fagan, Thesis Advisor
  • Garrett Fagan, Dissertation Advisor
  • Roman Republic
  • politics
  • rhetoric
  • philhellenism
  • luxury
  • tyranny
The late Roman Republic was plagued with political strife in various forms, with the result that political rhetoric became an essential tool for prominent men to gain support and denigrate their opponents. This rhetoric took many forms and appealed to different popular sentiments. Among these various charges, accusations of philhellenism became frequent tools of invective for Romans who hoped to appeal to the miso-hellenic sentiments of certain groups in the city. This thesis examines the various ways in which accusations of philhellenism were employed in the political rhetoric of the late Roman Republic, addressing specifically issues of Greek living, luxury, and symbols of power, and shows that in spite of the overwhelming influence Greece had over Rome, miso-hellenic sentiment had a strong presence in Rome. For those whose lives were overly imitative of the Greek lifestyle, charges of philhellenism were readily employed by their opponents in an effort to appeal to this hostility to Greek culture and thus to alienate the philhellenes as un-Roman and unreliable.