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Chapter 5 - Portable Retreats: Lectica

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2021

Jared Hudson
Affiliation:
Harvard University, Massachusetts
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Summary

This chapter examines the role played by lectica (litter) in Roman literature. Investigating Roman accounts of the conveyance's origins, it shows how lectica was repeatedly framed as an exotic import from the Near East, only available to Romans upon their exposure, through the process of imperial expansion, to Eastern softness. But such a projection involved carefully distinguishing this ‘decadent’ litter from already existing, sanctioned litter use (including its use as a 'stretcher'). The litter’s status as a newfangled import is moreover belied by coexisting narratives of republican-era patriarchs riding in lectica because of injury, old age, or disability, and numerous able-bodied Roman commanders who take the field in a lectica. That Cicero could at one moment lambast his juridical or political opponents for employing the litter and then invite a friend for a lectica joy-ride points up how such an object was used to focalize moral discourses in conflict. The chapter ultimately argues that the vehicle's configuration as an awkward boundary-crosser, constantly out of place whether in public or in private, helps shore up other more dominant categories, vehicular and otherwise.

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Chapter
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The Rhetoric of Roman Transportation
Vehicles in Latin Literature
, pp. 248 - 311
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Portable Retreats: Lectica
  • Jared Hudson, Harvard University, Massachusetts
  • Book: The Rhetoric of Roman Transportation
  • Online publication: 20 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108667678.007
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  • Portable Retreats: Lectica
  • Jared Hudson, Harvard University, Massachusetts
  • Book: The Rhetoric of Roman Transportation
  • Online publication: 20 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108667678.007
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.

  • Portable Retreats: Lectica
  • Jared Hudson, Harvard University, Massachusetts
  • Book: The Rhetoric of Roman Transportation
  • Online publication: 20 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108667678.007
Available formats
×