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“artifices scaenici, qui imitantur adfectus”: Displaying emotions in Roman drama and oratory

Manuwald, G; (2020) “artifices scaenici, qui imitantur adfectus”: Displaying emotions in Roman drama and oratory. In: Ehrenheim, H and Prusac-Lindhagen, M, (eds.) Reading Roman emotions. Visual and textual interpretations. (pp. 29-40). The Editorial Committee of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome: Stockholm, Sweden. Green open access

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Abstract

Because of the kinds of sources available, any discussion of forms of visualization of emotions in ancient Rome will have to rely on what can be inferred from ancient texts; literary genres where display is at issue thus seem most promising as objects of study. Therefore, after some preliminary considerations, this article focusses on significant passages from Roman drama (mainly comedies by Plautus and Terence and tragedies by Seneca the Younger) as well as Roman oratory (mainly Cicero’s speeches) in which speakers describe the appearance of others or their own reactions and interpret these as indications of emotional states: such comments reveal views on the ways in which bodily features and particular emotions were seen as linked. The importance of the visual display of emotions as an element of social communication, which can also be inferred for everyday life, goes hand in hand with scepticism as to the genuineness of the emotions shown. Interestingly, writers such as Horace and Cicero address the question of whether it is necessary for orators and actors to experience certain feelings to convey them plausibly. The analysis of relevant extracts demonstrates that strong emotions were assumed to be shown by changes in facial expression, tone of voice, and gestures, and that the display of genuine emotions was felt to be more effective for the purposes of the plot of plays or the argument of speeches.

Type: Book chapter
Title: “artifices scaenici, qui imitantur adfectus”: Displaying emotions in Roman drama and oratory
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://ecsi.se/actarom-4-64/
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Greek and Latin
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10092270
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