Figures of Silence in Dio Chrysostom's First Tarsian Oration (Or. 33): Aposiopesis, Paraleipsis, and Huposiôpêsis

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Dio Chrysostom's First Tarsian Oration (Or. 33) is arguably one of his most entertaining works; it is certainly one of the most peculiar. The speech, which some scholars date to the reign of Vespasian (69–79 CE) and others to that of Trajan (98–112 CE), is addressed to the citizens of Tarsus, a prosperous city in the province of Cilicia in south-eastern Asia Minor. In terms of content and structure, the First Tarsian bears less resemblance to the more ‘political’ Second Tarsian (Or. 34) than to two of Dio's better-known speeches, the Rhodian (Or. 31) and the Alexandrian (Or. 32). In these, as in the First Tarsian, Dio severely criticizes his putative addressees – the given city's inhabitants – for practising an activity that he finds reprehensible and symptomatic of deeper moral failings. For the Alexandrians it is their uncontrolled and wanton behaviour at public performances; for the Rhodians their economically profitable but ethically suspect habit of re-dedicating statues by changing their labels. The First Tarsian's similarities with the Alexandrian are particularly striking: both feature a long exordium in which Dio explains why he has decided to blame and chastise, rather than praise, his listeners, followed by a sustained attack on the vice in question that employs a battery of remarkably parallel mythological allusions, rhetorical analogies, and anecdotes.


Published for the The Classical Association by Cambridge University Press.


Lena Sonemann




Cambridge University Press


Cambridge, England

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Greece and Rome