This article discusses the Attic orators’ allusion to the past, to poetry and in general to shared cultural and historical memory. Much scholarship has argued that because of a strong distinction in Athens between mass and elite, it was important for an orator not to present himself as elitist and too cultured, in order not to alienate the audience. The paper will argue that there is no sign of such caution in the sources, and that on the contrary the orators strive to present themselves as learned and well-aware of the cultural memory of the city, because that is what their audience expected. The Athenians saw themselves as knowledgeable of their culture, past and laws. The paper will also show that the orators were aware of the discrepancy between what their audience thought they remembered, and believed they should remember, and what they actually did remember. They had strategies to exploit this discrepancy for their purposes. The interplay between memory, cultural expectations and rhetorical strategies to exploit them help shedding light on the dimension of ‘public forgetting’ that is key for the creation and the development of a social memory, a battleground for conflict as well as for the building of the community.
|Title of host publication||Conflict in Communities. Forward-looking Memories in Classical Athens|
|Editors||E Franchi, G Proietti|
|Publisher||Universita di Trento|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|
|Name||Quaderni del Dipartimento di Lettere e Filosofia dell’Università degli Studi di Trento|