The Poise of Shame
Shame is a discipline of great power.
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Pudor and verecundia were the inhibiting emotions.2 “Shame hesitates, ” tardat pudor (Catullus 61.79). “Shame impedes, ” pudor praepedit (Livy 9.6.4). “Shame blocks, ” pudor opstat (Juvenal Satirae 3.60).3Pudor was the shyness that caused one to draw back before another, the fear or respect that caused one to make way for another even when one was within one's rights, one's libertas or ius. Pudor caused the citizen to retreat before the consul's lictors.4 It caused the worshiper to veil his or her head before the gods.5 It caused Statius to give way to Virgil.6
Pudor was the emotion that constrained speech, that bridled the tongue.7 “I'm too ashamed to say the other things that I saw him do, ” Plautus's Lydus declared, having caught his pupil Pistoclerus in the house of the courtesan Bacchis (Bac____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Roman Honor: The Fire in the Bones. Contributors: Carlin A. Barton - Author. Publisher: University of California Press. Place of publication: Berkeley, CA. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 202.
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