As political unrest seethed in late Republican Rome, a series of violent acts were perpetrated against well-known buildings, public and private, by the people (the plebs) and their elected representatives, the tribunes. On the rare occasions when scholars mention these events, they tend to treat them as random, isolated acts of vandalism; conspicuously missing is any accounting for them in commentaries on Rome's built environment. In Vandalism and Resistance in Republican Rome, Penelope J. E. Davies assesses these acts against a broad spectrum of political activism over the ages, as well as in the narrower context of contemporaneous politics, when strict, exclusionary norms governed the sponsorship of public architecture. She argues that the destructive acts were, in fact, deliberate, ideologically driven attempts by Rome's less powerful to defy and circumvent the language of power established by the dominant class.

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