The contemporary books of Cassius Dio's Roman History are known (to the extent that they are read) for their anecdotal quality and lack of interpretive sophistication. This paper aims to recuperate another layer of meaning for Dio's anecdotes by examining episodes in his contemporary books that feature masquerades and impersonation. It suggests that these themes owe their prominence to political conditions in Dio's lifetime, particularly the revival, after a hundred-year lapse, of usurpation and damnatio memoriae, practices that rendered personal identity problematic. The central claim is that narratives in Dio's last books use masquerades and impersonation to explore paradoxes of personal identity and signification, issues made salient by abrupt changes of social status at the highest levels of imperial society.
- © 2011 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.