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Chapter 5 - Fabius Cunctator

Competing Judgments and Moral Change

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 March 2018

Matthew B. Roller
Affiliation:
The Johns Hopkins University
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Summary

Chapter five examines Fabius Cunctator, the proponent of military non-engagement or “delaying” during the Hannibalic war. According to legend, Fabius was criticized for cowardice until his strategy was vindicated by events; then he was glorified for his foresight and concern for the commonwealth’s safety. This striking revaluation of his performance from “bad” to “good” within a single moral category (gloria) comes about because Fabius is presented as recognizing, alone, a moral nuance in the Hannibalic war: that displaying valor in battle does not, for the moment, support the commonwealth’s long-term survival. The Fabian exemplum schools audiences in distinguishing among related but distinct moral concepts (especially gloria and virtus), and in understanding what kinds of actions truly serve the community. This moral refinement has rhetorical and political consequences, as later generals and statesmen invoke Fabius to justify disregarding traditional values when they believe circumstances require it.
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Models from the Past in Roman Culture
A World of Exempla
, pp. 163 - 196
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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  • Fabius Cunctator
  • Matthew B. Roller, The Johns Hopkins University
  • Book: Models from the Past in Roman Culture
  • Online publication: 21 March 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316677353.007
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  • Fabius Cunctator
  • Matthew B. Roller, The Johns Hopkins University
  • Book: Models from the Past in Roman Culture
  • Online publication: 21 March 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316677353.007
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Fabius Cunctator
  • Matthew B. Roller, The Johns Hopkins University
  • Book: Models from the Past in Roman Culture
  • Online publication: 21 March 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316677353.007
Available formats
×