Cassius Dio on Perusia: A Study in Human Nature During Civil War

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From Thucydides to Kalyvas, civil war is associated with wickedness and personal animosities. This contribution seeks to view the violence of the Late Republican civil war through the lens applied to it by Cassius Dio. It focusses on Dio’s portrayal of the use of violence by Young Caesar upon the fall of Perusia early in 40 BCE—allegedly followed by the killing of three hundred Senators and equites as well as the Perusine citizens. Violence was not only a conspicuous part of civil war, but also had a distinct purpose—viz. the elimination of personal enemies and the confirmation of power. This use of indiscriminate as opposed to selective violence speaks volumes about the balance of power in Italy: Young Caesar was not in total control in 41-40 BCE. Dio did not wholeheartedly commit to the story of the three hundred, but he still mentions it: clearly this concerns not only Dio’s wish to understand human nature and the leading civil war protagonists; it concerns also the impact of civil war, and the historian’s approach to it through narrative.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIn Jesper M. Madsen & C.H. Lange (eds.) Cassius Dio the Historian: Methods and Approaches
EditorsCarsten Hjort Lange, Jesper Majbom Madsen
Number of pages26
Place of PublicationLeiden and Boston
Publication date27 May 2021
ISBN (Print)978-90-04-46148-2
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-46160-4
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2021
EventCassius Dio the Historian: Methods and Approaches/Call for papers - SDU, Odense , Denmark
Duration: 7 Dec 20169 Dec 2016


ConferenceCassius Dio the Historian: Methods and Approaches/Call for papers
SeriesHistoriography of Rome and Its Empire


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  • Cassius Dio: Between History and Politics (Forskernetværk, FKK)

    Lange, C. H., Madsen, J. M., Hinge, G., Osgood, J., Kemezis, A., Coudry, M., Allen, J., Ando, C., Asirvatham, S., Baron, C., Burden-Strevens, C., Gowing, A., Jones, B., Kuhn, A., Kuhn, C., Langford, J., Mallan, C., Markov, K., Mastrorosa, I. G., Rich, J., Scott, A. G., Schultz, V., Urso, G. & Vaahtera, J.


    Project: Research


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