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Roman Culture & Society


CX 110

"All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?" Reg, in Monty Python's Life of Brian. 

What have the Romans done for us... and who were "the Romans"?

Come and explore how the Romans have shaped the modern world through their literary and material cultures. This module will asses how we define terms such as "Roman" across the broad spectrum of time and geography in the Roman Empire. The material evidence focuses from the start of the Empire under Augustus to its zenith and decline in the late 2nd/ 3rd century AD (with some analysis of Christianity into the 4th century AD). From Britain to Bulgaria and from the Nile to the Euphrates, we will consider how societies were united in Roman culture, and equally, how a number of different cultures would contribute to the concept of what is "Roman". From high literature in Rome to graffiti in a Pompeian Latrine, from massive Imperial monuments (e.g. the Colosseum) to an epitaph of a maligned Gladiator, from Trajan's column depicting the defeat of the Dacians in Rome to an altar for a Palmyrene deity in Roman Britain, we will observe and analyse Roman culture at its best (engineering aqueducts, fountains, and bathouses across an Empire).. and its worst (engineering a volcano to shoot a man into a pack of hungry dogs at a public execution). This module will illustrate how we analyse different sources from the ancient world and what these sources can reveal about the development of culture in ancient and modern contexts.

This module runs every year. See Below for Summer Reading Suggestions

Module Convenor: Dr. Abigail Graham

*Office Hours: Thursday 12-2pm, Friday 11-12pm.*

* Office hour meetings> Help me help you: to get the most out of a meeting: send an email in advance to to set up a meeting (a timeslot) and the issue that you would like to discuss. Then I can come to the meeting prepared and assure that your preferred time is available. I have ca. 90 students between two modules, so it can get quite busy.

Tutors: Prof. Zahra Newby, Dr. Elena Giusti, Dr. Dario Calomino, Denise Wilding.


Making Rubbings of inscriptions on site in OstiaTomb of the Scipios

Warwick Students at the Tomb of the Scipios (Rome, 2014)

Reconstructing an inscription at the Main Gate in Ostia (2014)

 Dedication of the Main Gate at Ostia