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Kangaroo Courts: Displaced Justice in the Roman Novel

From the book Cultural Crossroads in the Ancient Novel

  • John Bodel


Mock trials in the Roman novels, notably Eumolpus’s defense of Encolpius and Giton aboard Lichas’s ship in Petronius’s Satyrica (107-109) and the Risus festival at Hypata in Apuleius’s Metamorphoses (3,1-12), center on the inability of law to provide order when justice is displaced from its proper setting. In the first, an effort to regularize an impromptu trial on shipboard dissolves into brawling when declamatory rhetoric withers in the face of a judge’s direct interrogation. In the second, a trial becomes a farce when the proceedings are transferred from the forum to the theater and the defendant absolves himself by declamation.

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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