Title of Abstract: Investigating the Relationship between Virtue and Political Violence in Roman and American Republic
Name of Mentor: Patrick Rael
Mentor’s Organization or Department: Department of History, Bowdoin College
Research Abstract: My research examines the propensity for political violence to emerge in republics, and how it is interconnected with the prominence of virtue-related discourses in republican theory. The history of the Roman Republic and the United States are the two focal points of this investigation, owing to their reputation as the paradigms of republican experiment. While political violence propelled the fall of the Roman Republic and overshadowed the Critical Period of the US with an intense paranoia, few scholars have explicated a crucial thread between the two phenomena. Namely, it is how the fixation on republican virtue can act as an agent in the outbreak of political violence. Given the enormous interpretive potential of virtue, and republicanism’s overreliance on such an ideal, acts of political violence often emerge as a result of politicians manipulating the concept of virtue to advance their personal agenda.