Respectable Retirement or Disgraceful Ambitions: Political Withdrawals and Returns of Elderly Consulares in the Roman Republic

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This paper examines the end-of-career paths taken by elderly consulares (ex-consuls) during the early and middle Roman Republic. It proposes the existence of a post-consular archetype that can be separated into three-stages that are largely age-based. The first stage is the early consular stage, around the age of forty to fifty, where the individual still actively pursued magisterial offices commonly ending with a “crowning event”. The second stage is the “semi-active” stage, in their fifties to sixties, where the individual mainly held minor, religious, or extraordinary offices. As the consulars approached their sixties the majority would enter a third and last career stage, retirement. Retirement usually meant a reduced participation within the senate and complete discontinuation of pursuing magisterial offices. For a few individuals this retirement was put on temporary hold as they, forced or voluntary, were called back to active magisterial service to the Roman state. Not all returns were successful and some who returned would see themselves shunned, exiled or even facing execution for what was perceived as ambitions that were deemed disgraceful on account of their old age. This paper is based on quantitative and qualitative data compiled from different fasti and from annalistic sources such as Livy which is compared with the ideal ambitions and dealings of the elderly as found in De Senectute by Cicero, Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium by Seneca, and An seni respublica gerenda sit by Plutarchos.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date10 Jul 2024
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2024
EventCeltic Conference in Classics - Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Jul 202412 Jul 2024
Conference number: 15


ConferenceCeltic Conference in Classics
LocationCardiff University
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Old age, Roman Republic, Roman magistrates, Cicero, Marcus Tullius, Seneca, Lucius Annaeus, Plutarch

ID: 393706924