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Petition and Performance in Ancient Rome

The Apologies of Justin Martyr


The system of petition and response was part and parcel of life in the Roman Empire. This book contextualizes Justin Martyr’s Apologies within this system of petition and response, arguing that Justin, in a fertile moment in the history of administrative practice, took a well-scripted form of imperial supplication and public display and boldly transformed it into a uniquely stylized statement of voiced injustice and Christian transparency. Using the heuristic of performance, this book not only compares the Apologies to extant petitions but draws attention to Justin’s strategies of elaboration and to the qualities of his work as a staged enactment within wider political, social, and literary contexts. The result is a reading of the Apologies as an opportunistic combination of petitionary, apologetic, and protreptic discourses by which Justin sought to address both his procedural objections to Christian trials and the popular and philosophical prejudices of his learned contemporaries.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-3918-3
Publication Status: In Print
Publication Date: Nov 17,2020
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 292
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-3918-3
$114.95
Your price: $91.96

This study advances a suggestive reading of Justin Martyr's Apologies as a subjective appropriation of the forms and practices of the Roman system of petition and response. It offers an historical contextualization of the Apologies within both contemporary administrative culture and the wider literary environment. It compares the Apologies with extant Roman-era petitions, using this comparison to shed light on Justin's transformations of the genre and their communicative significance. Using the heuristic metaphor of performance, it suggests that Justin performs in the Apologies the genre of the administrative petition, but he performs it multiply, as an integral part of a hybrid literary composition that weaves together apologetic and protreptic discourses in a way that finds precedent in the genre-bending literary strategies of the Second Sophistic. Justin's hybridization of the administrative petition is a uniquely stylized performance by a Christian philosopher and literary aspirant, one that both activates the form's potential for administrative redress and exploits it as a daring enactment of voiced injustice and Christian disclosure.

This study advances a suggestive reading of Justin Martyr's Apologies as a subjective appropriation of the forms and practices of the Roman system of petition and response. It offers an historical contextualization of the Apologies within both contemporary administrative culture and the wider literary environment. It compares the Apologies with extant Roman-era petitions, using this comparison to shed light on Justin's transformations of the genre and their communicative significance. Using the heuristic metaphor of performance, it suggests that Justin performs in the Apologies the genre of the administrative petition, but he performs it multiply, as an integral part of a hybrid literary composition that weaves together apologetic and protreptic discourses in a way that finds precedent in the genre-bending literary strategies of the Second Sophistic. Justin's hybridization of the administrative petition is a uniquely stylized performance by a Christian philosopher and literary aspirant, one that both activates the form's potential for administrative redress and exploits it as a daring enactment of voiced injustice and Christian disclosure.

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ContributorBiography

Brandon Cline

Brandon Cline earned his PhD in New Testament and Early Christian Literature from the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago and an MDiv from the University of Chicago Divinity School. His research interests range widely in Greek, Roman, and early Christian studies. He teaches Latin at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, Texas.

Acknowledgments. ix

Abbreviations. xi

Ancient Texts. xii

Additional Corpora and Editions. xv

Introduction: Petition and Performance. 1

Mise-en-scène. 1

Scope and Contributions of this Study. 4

Petition and Performance. 10

Chapter 1. Justin’s Performance Context: Petition and Response in the Roman Empire  19

The Administrative Context of the Apologies19

Building a Generic Inventory: Example Petitions. 32

SIG3 820: Petition to the Proconsul of Asia (88/9 ce). 35

SB XVI 12678: Petitions to a Regional Governor (epistrategos) and the Prefect of Egypt (179 ce)  36

Skaptopara: Petition to Emperor Gordianus III (238 ce). 38

P.Euphrates 1: Petition to the Prefect of Mesopotamia (III ce)  43

A Generic Inventory for Administrative Petitions46

Request. 46

Administrative Context. 48

Form and Structure. 49

Length.. 55

Rhetorical and Argumentative Strategies. 56

Conclusion.. 64

Chapter 2. Literary Self-Description in the Apologies65

Generic Description in the Apologies66

The Language of Petition: ἔντευξις, ἀξίωσις, and βιβλίδιον. 68

The Language of Address and Declaration: Προσφώνησις. 86

The Language of Exposition: Ἐξήγησις. 97

The Language of Composition: Σύνταξις and Other De­scrip­tors101

‘Conversing in Writing with Caesar’ (Dial. 120.6). 106

Conclusion.. 107

Chapter 3. A Literary Comparison of the Apologies with Admin­istrative Petitions  109

Request: Combining the Work of a Petition with a Strategy from Classical Oratory  110

Administrative Context: Invocations of Procedural Proto­cols. 120

The Medium as Message: Justin’s Emphasis on Public Display  124

Administrative Context in the Early Christian Reception of the Apologies132

Form and Structure: The Opening Address in 1 Apol. 1.1136

Length: The Significance of Size. 144

Macrologia as a Performative Gesture. 145

A Monumental Performance: The Case of Diogenes of Oinoanda  149

Rhetorical and Argumentative Strategies: Petitionary Tropes in the Apologies152

Conclusion.. 158

Chapter 4. Generic Hybridity in the Apologies161

The Apologies as a Speech of Defense (ἀπολογητικὸς λόγος). 162

Forensic Situational Context. 166

Forensic Argumentative Strategies and Issue Theory. 173

Apologetic Rhetorical Commonplaces. 179

The Apologies as a Speech of Philosophical Exhortation (προτρεπτικὸς λόγος)  184

Self-Description as a Protreptic Text. 188

The Protreptic Aims of the Apologies189

Protreptic Commonplaces in the Apologies195

The Apologies and Generic Hybridity. 201

Hybridity and the Marks of Literary Sophistication.. 208

Genre-Bending, Philosophy, and the Performance of Supplication   211

Conclusion.. 221

Conclusion: Summary of the Argument. 223

Appendix: How Many Apologies Did Justin Write?. 227

External Evidence. 228

Internal Evidence. 233

Bibliography. 247

General Index. 267

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