Beyond Laelius. The Orthopraxy of Friendship in the Late Republic

Author: Rollinger, Christian
Title: Beyond Laelius. The Orthopraxy of Friendship in the Late Republic
Review/Collection: "Ciceroniana online", NS 1, 2
Year edition: 2017
Pages: 343-367
Keywords: Histoire - Storia - History, Philosophie - Filosofia - Philosophy, Politique - Politica - Politics
Description: While amicitia in both Cicero s philosophical works and the Letters has been the subject of intense scholarly interest, it is only recently that the significance of amicitia for Roman society at large has warranted critical-historical studies. In rejecting outdated notions of amicitiae as political factions, modern scholarship has left a key question unanswered: if amicitia was not, in fact, instrumental in shaping policies and voting majorities, then what was its importance? This paper attempts to show the importance and function of amicitia in Roman aristocratic society by analyzing its influence on a variety of individual sectors of private and public day-to-day life. The rules of amicitia, as propounded by Cicero in his philosophical works, can be observed in action in his letters, where considerations of amity and friendship govern his interactions with aristocrats and non-aristocrats alike. From a close reading of his Letters(among other sources), the article draws up a catalogue of amical orthopraxy within the Roman aristocracy. What were the rules that governed friendships? In which areas of social life did they operate and how? What, precisely, were the actual benefits that Roman nobles could and did gain from them? In compiling the ample evidence for these benefits, the article contends that we can arrive at a new appreciation of amicitia and the fundamental role it played in generating and maintaining aristocratic social consensus. The amici of a Roman noble were not (only) important because of their value as political allies. They were important because almost every aspect of aristocratic life was governed by amicitiae, and vital parts of it could only function because of them. [Abstract dal sito della rivista]
Author initials: Rollinger 2017