Asinius Pollio

Susan Lutton

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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From 49 until 31 BC the people of Rome were embroiled in civil war. The onset of this conflict is often dated back to 60 BC with the formation of the first triumvirate of Caesar, Pompey and Crassus. And prior to this date Rome had only just recovered from the Social War and the horrific proscriptions of Sulla, a starting point that takes us back to at least 90 BC. A sense of peace and stability would only return to Rome in 27 BC when Octavian was named Augustus. The deeds of individuals throughout this period have come under intense scrutiny as they themselves sought to make sense of their world and survive. Gaius Asinius Pollio was one such individual. He was born in 76 BC and died ten years before Augustus in AD 4. Interest in Pollio in modern scholarship has focused on his political ideology and his writing of a contemporaneous history of the civil wars. Syme, in his enormous contribution to this field with his study the Roman Revolution, was particularly enamoured of Pollio. He perceived an individual who throughout remained independent, a strong republican, and holding the voice of libertas. Pollio’s name is also recorded in history for building the first public library in Rome, and as a patron of Vergil. Nevertheless, we must also contend with the evidence that Pollio appeared to procrastinate significantly when his involvement in the war might have changed the outcome. He is also associated with the proscriptions and by implication with the murder of Cicero, whom Pollio attacks through most of his life. He is also known for his ferocia and generally acerbic and critical personality. Debate has emerged as to whether he truly remained a republican as described by Syme, never submitting to the regime of Augustus, or whether he did indeed turn from Antony and support the future principate as suggested by Bosworth in 1972.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012


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