The Three Cities of Dio Chrysostom: Conflict and Utopia in the Roman East
John Ma, Columbia University
April 29, 2019 · 4:30 pm—6:00 pm EDT · 106 McCormick Hall
Program in the Ancient World-Magie Lecture
Among the manifold literary production of celebrity lecturer and philosopher Cocceianus Dio (later nicknamed “Goldenmouth” for his style), a body of speeches stands out: those he gave in his hometown of Prousa (modern Bursa), in the late first and early second centuries CE. These speeches, almost certainly authentic fragments of political oratory delivered before the decision-making institutions of a post-classical polis, offer a striking picture of utopian aspiration, and structural, inescapable conflict (of a type known for other pre-modern urban regimes). Utopia and conflict: the dynamic relations between speaker and polis illuminate the old problems of mass and elite in the polis, within a world empire.