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Classics professor speaks on ‘Cultivating Rome and its Estate’

February 27, 2013

This Thursday Grant Nelsestuen, an assistant professor of classics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be lecturing about his research on the political philosophy of the late Roman Republic. He will also speak about the kinds of research that classicists typically conduct.

Assistant Professor of Classics Lisl Walsh says she invited Nelsestuen to campus because he has found a profound body of evidence for political philosophy in a text which most experts had assumed was about agriculture, not politics.  

“His scholarship exemplifies the ways in which classicists must often approach questions about the ancient world through many different disciplines and pieces of evidence,” says Walsh. “It provides—for non-classicists as well—a useful model of creative and interdisciplinary problem-solving.”  

The lecture will be especially of interest to students who are curious about political philosophy, ancient Roman society, Roman farming, or the field of classics, but Walsh encourages all students to attend.

“I think that there are striking comparisons to be made between the way Ancient Roman authors wrote about running complex organizations (whether that be a farm or a country) and the way we (modern American capitalists) think about the organization and management of clubs, colleges, governments, and corporations,” says Walsh of the subject’s broader relevance.

Nelsestuen’s forthcoming book is titled Varro the Agronomist: Political Philosophy, Satire, and Agriculture in the Late Roman Republic. His lecture “Cultivating Rome and Its Estate: Farmers and Farms in the Late Roman Republic” will take place Thursday at 4 p.m. in SCI 150.