The following paper is concerned with the practice of holding contiones in the Late Republic and the political benefits that flowed from this form of assembly. It will be suggested that the surviving evidence is not adequately representative for a study of contional rhetoric, but that an analysis of the many ““attested”” rather than ““extant”” contiones will likely reveal important patterns of practice thanks to its wider sample. In testing the results of this theory, the first section will argue that there was an important and marked imbalance between the exploitation of the contio by populares and by their opponents. In the second section it will be asserted that this was a logical result of the strong attendance of contiones by members of the urban plebs, and the third section will deal with the causes and effects of this phenomenon and the importance of differences between political activity in the senate and political activity in the assemblies.
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