It has by now become a commonplace among the historians of the republic that optimates and populares were not political parties in any modern sense. Nevertheless the ghost of the ‘popular party’ still lingers in subtle disguises, the most insidious of which is donned whenever populares is translated as ‘the populares’, with all that the definite article may imply.
This paper essays a reconstruction of Livy's attitude to and treatment of the major ‘popularis’ figures of the late republic, from Ti. Gracchus to Cinna and Carbo. The opening section examines four situations involving ‘popularis’ prototypes: the careers of Sp. Cassius, Sp. Maelius, and Manlius Capitolinus and the fall of Ap. Claudius the decemvir. It first considers Livy's use of what by his time had become standard themes in writing about ‘populares’, then attempts to establish the possible antiquity of these (...) modes of expression. In passing it should perhaps be stressed that the attention directed in this section to terminology is not intended to imply that Livy's attitudes can be determined simply from the mere occurrence in his work of certain slogans or catchwords. That is one reason why there is little profit in asking how a ‘popularis’ historian might have handled the same or similar events. (shrink)
In an earlier paper Christopher Tuplin and I attempted to establish the date and circumstances of the emergence of the concept of ‘the Greeks of Asia’ and the consequent appearance of ‘the freedom of the Greeks of Asia’ as a political slogan. It was there suggested that concept and slogan first crystallized shortly before the Peace of Antalcidas, and that the freedom of the Greeks of Asia first acquired its full force as a catchword when that freedom had been signed (...) away, apparently for ever. The present paper traces the further history of the slogan, first under Alexander and the Diadochi, then at the time of the Roman conquest of the eastern Mediterranean. No attempt is, however, made to deal with every unanswered question raised by either Macedonian or Roman dealings with Greece. The Greeks of Asia languished under Persia till the time of the Macedonian invasion. Yet when that invasion came, the freedom of the Greeks of Asia was to play little part in Macedonian propaganda, still less in Macedonian practice. The expedition was conceived by Philip as an act of revenge for the Persian invasions of Greece. This theme of revenge was taken up by Alexander at the time of his appointment to command, and recurs in his letter to Darius and his words to Parmenio after the taking of Persepolis. The even broader theme of a crusade of Greeks against Persians to achieve the conquest of Asia is still more frequent. It dictates the sedulous manufacture of parallels with the Trojan war and the inscription on the spoils sent to Athens after the battle of the Granicus; it was also used to justify Alexander's hatred of Greeks who fought on the Persian side. By comparison with these motifs the freedom of the Greeks of Asia receives little attention. When Philip sent out his advance expedition under Parmenio and Attalus, his instructions to them were to free the Greek cities. But just how flexibly that order could be interpreted is shown by Parmenio's treatment of Grynium. Alexander too showed himself ruthlessly pragmatic in his attitude to Greek cities, until the appointment of Alcimachus to liberate the Aeolian and Ionian cities. Yet this development receives little attention in the sources, and the only trace of it in subsequent propaganda is the claim ascribed to Alexander when he was on his way from Miletus to Caria that he had undertaken the war for the sake of the freedom of the Greeks, the only occasion in the surviving evidence on which Alexander makes this assertion. (shrink)