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Title: Sulla and the gods :religion, politics and propaganda in the autobiography of Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Authors: Noble, Fiona Mary
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Lucius Cornelius Sulla wrote an autobiographical account of his controversial career which, although it was left incomplete on his death in 78 BC, nonetheless had an incalculably significant influence on writers during the subsequent centuries. The Autobiography has not survived intact, but the twenty-three remaining fragments reveal a great deal about the original structure and contents of the work. Through the medium of commentaries on each of the fragments, this thesis considers the function and role of this lost text in Sulla’s self-representation strategy. Sulla was a man who was intensely interested in and concerned with managing the ways in which he was perceived both by his contemporaries and by posterity; although the evidence for this strategy is diverse and problematic, it is nevertheless possible to reconstruct the most important ways in which Sulla engaged with different groups. Through coinage, inscriptions, monuments, and nomenclature, Sulla exerted great effort in establishing a public image of himself as a man favoured by the gods, justified in his actions, and whose actions had brought great prosperity to Rome; this was so intricate and thorough that it can be termed ‘propaganda’. It was in the Autobiography, however, that Sulla was able to develop these themes. By presenting a comprehensive reconsideration of his life and career, Sulla was able to create a complex character portrait of himself, and engaged in self-justification, confronting many of the negative interpretations of his actions that had already begun to develop. Through analysis of the fragments of the Autobiography, therefore, this thesis asks important questions concerning the nature of self-representation and propaganda in the late Republic and the role of religious discourse within political negotiation in this period, and offers new insights into the intellectual world of Rome in the early first century BC.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Historical Studies

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