The Two Faces of Cincinnatus: A Rhetorical Theory of the State of Exception

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This article offers a rhetorical theory of what Giorgio Agamben has called the “state of exception” through a genealogy of the figure of Cincinnatus. In classical Rome, Cincinnatus was named dictator not once, but twice; first to save the city from invaders, and second to put down a popular, democratic uprising. Here we see the two sides of exception, or what I call the two faces of Cincinnatus: enemyship, and sovereign violence. These two faces are linked by an anti-democratic logic that is premised on the will of “the people,” as becomes clear in the counter-revolutionary writings of the founders of the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-64
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in the History of Rhetoric
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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