"Cultivating Rome and Its Estate: Farmers and Farms in the Late Roman Republic," a Classics department public lecture
Date: Thursday, February 28th, 2013
Time: 4:00 pm
Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Location: Room 150, Center for the Sciences
Sponsored by: Classics
Contact: email@example.com, Contact: Lisl Walsh
Grant Nelsestuen (Classics, UW-Madison) will give a lecture titled "Cultivating Rome and Its Estate: Farmers and Farms in the Late Roman Republic."
Modern classics and political theory tends to focus on the origin, nature, and character of Roman imperialism, yet the Romans’ own conceptions of empire remain relatively understudied. I argue that Varro’s De Re Rustica (37 BC), a dialogue on farming composed during the tumultuous transition from Republic to Principate, is one such attempt to conceptualize the city-state-turned-empire. Drawing on a number of intellectual antecedents, including Greek treatments of household relations, Roman thought on the farmer as ideal statesman, and Cynic-Stoic cosmopolitanism, this text allegorizes the Roman empire as an agricultural estate. In so doing, it provides both a model for the governance of the empire as a territorial state and an exposition of the principles that are to structure the relationships between the empire’s center and its periphery of the provinces. Thus, Varro’s dialogue anticipates Augustus’ subsequent transformation of Roman dominion over the Mediterranean into a coherent territorial state. In turn, it provides us with a major Roman intellectual’s conception of empire as well as a heuristic model of ancient imperialism.
This event is free and open to the campus and community.