Penelope's Weavings and Unpickings

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Lecturing in Rome without the Rome

Posted by weavingsandunpickings on February 16, 2021

A couple of weeks ago I delivered the annual joint British School at Rome / Institute of Classical studies lecture, on ‘Thinking about encroachment in the cities of the Roman west’. Alas for me, it was via Zoom rather than in Rome 😭, but on the plus side that means it was recorded and you can watch it here!

I am thrilled that they made the title slide purple for me, without me having said anything to suggest such a preference.

The paper basically argues that encroachment happens in every society which recognises property-ownership, that it has become seen as characteristic of late antiquity but actually occurred in the high empire too, and that we could do with reflecting on what we mean by it anyway.

There are examples from Timgad, Pompeii, Caerwent and Bulla Regia, covering ‘encroachment’ clearly done with the knowledge and permission of the local authorities, more clandestine appropriations of space (what most people really mean by ‘encroachment’) and one case which the perpetrator may have been forced to remove.

I enjoyed giving the lecture and a very lively discussion afterwards (not included on the recording) and it was a huge honour to be asked. I quaked hearing the names of the UK scholars who’d gone before me during the intro, though: Michael Crawford, John North, Roy Gibson, Greg Woolf, Catharine Edwards. These are some of the foremost eminences in my field, so quite a set of acts to follow.

However, the hosts were lovely and the questions (and a few emails over the next few days) expressed a lot of appreciation for the talk, so I think I delivered as expected. Just a bummer that I missed out on dinner and drinks in Rome afterwards!

Posted in pompeii, roman cities, roman history, rome, Uncategorized, urban geography | Leave a Comment »

Iris Project publication: How to win an election in the Roman Republic

Posted by weavingsandunpickings on April 24, 2015

It’s General Election season, and the Iris Project, which promotes Classics to schools and young people, are seizing the opportunity to run some topical articles on how ancient election campaigns compare and contrast with what we do today. I was asked to cover the case of Republican Rome, and my article has gone up online today. I will put the first couple of paragraphs up here as a teaser:

The UK is deep in the grip of election fever. Party leaders are touring the country in battle-buses, shaking hands, announcing policies, and chasing photo opportunities – all in the hope of winning over voters. But what did aspiring politicians need to do to get elected in ancient Rome? To answer this question we first need to understand some of the differences between the Roman political system and our own. While some aspects of campaigning persist across the ages, different systems reward different behaviours. In other words, it took different tactics to win a Roman election than it does a British one.

For one thing, there were no party leaders – or indeed political parties – in ancient Rome. Politicians stood for election as individuals, running largely on the basis of personal reputation rather than any policy platform. This is extremely clear from the Commentariolum Petitionis (‘Little Guide to Electioneering’), an ancient text giving advice to Cicero in his campaign for the consulship of 63 BC. Cicero (figure 1) is told that while a candidate he “must not pursue political measures, either in the senate-house or in public meetings” (Comm. Pet. 13). Instead, he should hold back, and allow himself to be judged on his established reputation and character. To win, then, it was more important to be seen as a good sort, generally capable of running the state, than it was to put forward particular ideas about how this should be done.

And you can read the rest here. I’m really pleased with how it has come out.

Posted in cicero, julius caesar, politics, publications, roman history, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

 
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