Monday 10 September 2012

Compliments, Criticisms and What They Tell Us About Ourselves

In my post-degree euphoria, I feel that now is the perfect time to show off some of my recent work while my enthusiasm still lasts.

Here, therefore, is a copy of my masters dissertation, which I am quite proud of. It admittedly makes very heavy reading for those who are not so classically-minded, though it has a great deal to say that applies well to modern society.

What it offers is a very different way of looking at things: the waning reign of the last lord of a decaying imperial house is viewed through the eyes of a poet with lofty aspirations but little access to the political sphere, who seeks to glorify his friends in a way that fashionably echoes the style of the Emperor. The Roman Empire at the end of the 1st century AD is also at times compared to a 21st century corporation for the purposes of understanding the role of power and self-image in both.

The failing Emperor abuses his authority to better secure his position at the top of the social order. The result of this is a society that ostensibly seems more fluid, although this is eventually revealed to be only an illusion of social mobility disguising the same sort of wealth-based aristocracy that existed before. Through his efforts Domitian loses any kind of relationship with the rest of society that he might have had otherwise and makes his own position entirely untenable. This is a warning that might equally apply to corporate leaders today.

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