What is Civil About Civil War? Political Communication and the Construction of ‘The People’ on the Eve of Civil War (49-48 BCE)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


What role did ordinary Romans play in civil war? Although the sources present the imagery of a divided community, to what extent the civic body was divided during the civil wars remains unclear. This chapter addresses strategies devised by political actors to gain the masses’ support and legitimise their claims to power in the context of the civil war between Caesar and Pompey. Kurt A. Raaflaub has employed the model of ‘coalition building’ to analyse the construction of Caesar’s camp. This chapter proposes deploying instead the constructionist model of the People laid out by Ernesto Laclau in On Populist Reason (2005). After introducing Laclau’s theory and its Gramscian origins, three basic conditions are selected for its application. These conditions are then used to analyse sources describing the political situation in Rome and Caesar’s political and communicative strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Perspectives on the Roman Civil Wars of 49-30 BCE.
EditorsRichard Westall, Hannah Cornwell
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages35
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

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