Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 January 2021
This introduction explores the widespread moralizing rhetoric that constitutes – both underlies and articulates – literary representations of problematic forms of Roman transit, first surveying portraits of the outrage voiced by disapproving observers when confronted with luxurious or ostentatious transportation, and then homing in on a special, written variety of this broader discursive phenomenon: the set-piece account of the staged confrontation between opposing embodiments of transportational ethics. The next section unravels the rhetoric of depictions of Romans whose involvement in their mode of transport is conspicuously physical, and examines the unequal distribution of praise and blame on travelers for such behavior. This is followed by a discussion of the underlying tendency of such portrayals to employ them as a means of promoting a higher, ethical ideal that transcends such bodily concerns: the rhetoric of Roman transportation uses such representations as a way to reach another end. An analysis of depictions of Roman traffic follows next. Finally, the introduction is concluded by a catalogue of the full fleet of attested Roman vehicles.