The contemporary books of Cassius Dio's Roman History are known (to the extent that they are read) for their anecdotal quality and lack of interpretive sophistication. This paper aims to recuperate another layer of meaning for Dio's anecdotes by examining episodes in his contemporary books that feature masquerades and impersonation. It suggests that these themes owe their prominence to political conditions in Dio's lifetime, particularly the revival, after a hundred-year lapse, of usurpation and damnatio memoriae, practices that rendered personal identity problematic. The central claim is that narratives in Dio's last books use masquerades and impersonation to explore paradoxes of personal identity and signification, issues made salient by abrupt changes of social status at the highest levels of imperial society.
Identity Theft: Doubles and Masquerades in Cassius Dio's Contemporary History
I am grateful to the Classics Faculty of the University of Cambridge whose invitation to deliver the J. H. Gray lectures in 2005 inspired me to begin this project. I would like to thank audiences in Cambridge, Oxford, Bloomington and Ann Arbor for comments and suggestions. My friends and colleagues have generously given me advice and feedback at various stages: Alessandro Barchiesi, Fernanda Bashaw, Susanna Braund, Riet van Bremen, Joan Burton, Alain Gowing, Mark Griffith, David Halperin, Patricia Larash, Marden Nichols, Andrea Nightingale, Josiah Osgood, Grant Parker, David Potter, Susan Stephens, and a very helpful reader who reviewed this manuscript for Classical Antiquity.
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Maud Gleason; Identity Theft: Doubles and Masquerades in Cassius Dio's Contemporary History. Classical Antiquity 1 April 2011; 30 (1): 33–86. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/CA.2011.30.1.33
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