We may have underestimated the ways in which a Roman popularis (s.) could motivate the passions of the people. Populares (pl.) were individuals who, in the last years of the Roman republic (133-49 BCE), were able to successfully use the concerns of the Roman populace — that is to say, the population at Rome — to their political advantage. In practice, they would circumvent the authority of the Roman Senate and magistrates by making proposals directly to the popular assembly, thereby forcing the Senate to either accept or be seen to oppose the populace.
I wrote this in response to a reader’s question on Academia.edu. The reader had been reading an excerpt from my undergraduate thesis when she asked to know more about soldiers stationed in the city of Pompeii at the time of Mt Vesuvius’ (in)famous eruption of 79 CE. The original text of my response has been edited and expanded to include additional commentary, as well as images. Continue reading “Soldiers in the city of Pompeii”