Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Cassius Dio the Orator: Approaches to Rhetoric in the 'Roman History', Books 1-53

Burden-Strevens, C. W. (2021) Cassius Dio the Orator: Approaches to Rhetoric in the 'Roman History', Books 1-53. In: Madsen, J. M. and Lange, C. H., eds. Cassius Dio the Historian: Methods and Approaches. Historiography of Rome and Its Empire . Brill, Leiden & Boston. ISBN 978-90-04-46148-2. E-ISBN 978-90-04-46160-4. (doi:10.1163/9789004461604) (KAR id:80050)


This chapter surveys the speeches of Cassius Dio’s Roman History up to the Augustan Settlement in Book 53. It shows that the historian’s approach to the composition and arrangement of his speeches was highly varied. Beginning with an overview of the historian’s sources, it argues that Dio had four primary methods in the composition of his speeches, drawing to varying degrees from pre-existing written versions. Then, turning to the distribution and themes of the formal orations, this study demonstrates that we can draw a relatively sharp distinction between the historian’s use of speeches in the earlier books compared to the Middle and Late Republican narratives: a significant turning-point appears to be the Second Punic War and the figure of Scipio Africanus. However, even where the length, frequency, and range of topics discussed in Dio’s speeches increases from this point, one major historical premise of Dio’s is consistent throughout: the dangerous power of rhetoric itself. This theme, introduced from the very beginnings of the Republic in Book 3 with the speech of Brutus, exerts significant historical ramifications in the historian’s narrative of the final decades of the res publica, alongside other important historical factors and causes discussed in the speeches to be surveyed here.

Item Type: Book section
DOI/Identification number: 10.1163/9789004461604
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D51 Ancient History
D History General and Old World > DE The Greco-Roman World
P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Christopher Burden-Strevens
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2020 11:45 UTC
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2023 12:02 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Burden-Strevens, C. W..

Creator's ORCID:
CReDIT Contributor Roles:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.