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Exemplary Ethics in Ancient Rome


  • Date Published: December 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108971645

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About the Authors
  • This ground-breaking study conveys the thrill and moral power of the ancient Roman story-world and its ancestral tales of bloody heroism. Its account of 'exemplary ethics' explores how and what Romans learnt from these moral exempla, arguing that they disseminated widely not only core values such as courage and loyalty, but also key ethical debates and controversies which are still relevant for us today. Exemplary ethics encouraged controversial thinking, creative imitation, and a critical perspective on moral issues, and it plays an important role in Western philosophical thought. The model of exemplary ethics developed here is based on a comprehensive survey of Latin literature, and its innovative approach also synthesizes methodologies from disciplines such as contemporary philosophy, educational theory, and cultural memory studies. It offers a new and robust framework for the study of Roman exempla that will also be valuable for the study of moral exempla in other settings.

    • Provides the first full-length study of the role of Roman exempla in ethics and education to 100 CE
    • Articulates a new and comprehensive model of Roman 'exemplary ethics' as exciting, critical, and philosophically interesting
    • Bases arguments on a comprehensive survey of Latin literature and extensive close readings of key works
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… [This] exemplary book enriches the study of Roman exempla and of exemplarity as such. It opens many paths of productive debate, and will provide a trove of ideas and prompts to further research.' Matthew Roller, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2020
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108971645
    • length: 380 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.511kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Roman values and the archetypal exemplum
    2. The special capacity of exemplary stories
    3. Exploitation, participation and the social function exempla
    4. The experience of learning from exempla
    5. Multiplicity, breadth, diversity and situational sensitivity in exemplary ethics
    6. Working consensus around Roman exempla
    7. Indeterminacy of exempla: interpretation, motivation and improvisation
    8. Sites of exemplarity: referentiality, memory, orality
    9. The dynamics of cultural memory: forgetting, rupture, contestation
    10. Changing sites of exemplarity: two case studies
    11. Diachronic overview of the exemplary terrain
    12. Controversial thinking through exempla
    13. Philosophical and literary adventures in the exemplary terrain

  • Author

    Rebecca Langlands, University of Exeter
    Rebecca Langlands is Professor of Classics at the University of Exeter. Her books include Sexual Morality in Ancient Rome (Cambridge, 2006) and Sex, Knowledge, and Receptions of the Past (2015). She is also a founder and director of the award-winning Sex and History project, which works with museums, schools, charities and young people to promote empowering discussion of contemporary sexual issues.

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