Rhetoric of Fear in Republican Rome: the Ciceronian Case

Arts Building, Room 305 (Museum)
Wednesday 28 June 2017 (15:00-17:00)

Henriette van der Blom:  h.vanderblom@bham.ac.uk


Network for Oratory and Politics Special Lecture

Speaker: Professor Francisco Pina Polo (University of Zaragoza, Spain)

  • The lecture will be followed by refreshments.
  • The event is free and open to all. Please register by email: h.vanderblom@bham.ac.uk


Fear is an emotional reaction against a real or imagined threat that it is supposed it will bring pain and suffering to an individual or to a group of people. Fear is therefore linked to uncertainty towards the future, and it appeals to self-preservation and survival. Fear can be useful to promote collective action and internal social unity, reducing or eliminating dissenting opinions. To mobilise a group, or at least to get their tacit support, it is essential to persuade them that there is actually a collective threat. The menace may not be real, but it must appear real, since the imagined fear looks real for an individual and seems to have real consequences.

With modern mass media, oratory was the main means for public communication in the ancient world. This paper focuses on the Roman orator and statesman, Cicero, and his use of the rhetoric of fear in his political speeches, and will also make parallels to modern political speech in relation to Brexit and international politics.

Speaker biography

Professor Pina Polo is a leading expert on Roman oratory and politics, the author of fundamental studies into the Roman popular assembly (the contio), the Roman consulship, and the place of oratory in republican Rome. He has led a number of major research projects on these themes and is currently involved in a project to collect all available fragments and testimonies of Roman republican oratory.

The Network for Oratory and Politics

The Network for Oratory and Politics is an interdisciplinary research network focusing on the relationship between oratory and politics across historical periods and geographical areas. The network connects, develops and communicates research in this field through public lectures, seminars, workshops and its website (www.birmingham.ac.uk/nop). Its Director, Dr Henriette van der Blom, is happy to answer questions about the lecture or the Network, and invites new members to the network.