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Tacitus, Dio, and the “Sophist” Maternus

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The article presents new arguments for identifying Maternus in Tacitus' Dialogus with the homonymous sophist whose execution under Domitian in c. 91 is mentioned by Dio. Re-examining alleged obstacles to acknowledging identity, it is argued that parallels in Dio show the term “sophist” to be so broadly applicable that it might also include Tacitus' senator-cum-dramatist. The time gap between “crime” and punishment is shown to correspond closely to what happened in seven other such Domitianic treason trials. Finally, Dio's epitomes are, when seen together, shown to agree with Tacitus' depiction of Maternus offending the potentes with his recitation of a script.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2012

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  • Historia, first published in 1952 by Karl Friedrich Stroheker and Gerold Walser is an international, peer-reviewed journal on Greek and Roman antiquity. Articles are in English, German, French and Italian. It features original articles on Greek history, the Roman Republic and Empire as well as late antiquity. It covers all aspects of political, economic, religious and social life and deals with legal, archaeological, numismatic and epigraphical questions.
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