Jon Hall has just completed a book on Cicero’s use of emotional theatrics in the Roman law courts (published by University of Michigan Press). The work examines in particular Cicero’s exploitation of tears and supplication during the perorations of his speeches, and the wearing of specially dirtied attire (sordes) by participants in the proceedings. The prevalence of such devices in the courts arguably derives, not from Greek rhetorical theory, but from the native theatricality of political life in ancient Rome, where similar techniques were regularly exploited.
Epicurean Social and Political Thought
Sean McConnell is currently writing articles on Epicurean social and political thought, focusing on the virtue of greatness of soul and the topic of parental love. One article explores the ways in which the Epicureans critique Aristotle’s elitist conception of greatness of soul and develop a distinctive position in which the virtue is accessible to every human being. Two articles explore Epicurean views on parental love and affection: one focuses on Lucretius’ strained treatment of the topic in De rerum natura and the other on Demetrius of Laconia’s support for Epicurus’ claim that parental love is not natural, which involves a revealing dialectical argument against the Stoics.
Demetrius the Besieger
Pat Wheatley is currently writing a book on Demetrius Poliorcetes, “The Besieger of Cities“ (336-282 BC), the most outstanding of the Diadochoi, or Successors to Alexander the Great. As his name suggests, Demetrius was prodigious in his military adventures, and profligate in his private life. However, he was an enigmatic character, oscillating wildly between successful and catastrophic ventures, and his intrinsic qualities remain debatable to this day. Demetrius' endeavours resulted in the fusion of Asiatic and Greek cultures, producing the hybrid Hellenistic kingdoms which dominated the ancient world until the rise of the Roman empire. Research on Demetrius’ life is beset by pernicious historiographic difficulties: the last scholarly book on him was in French in 1968, and no work in English has ever been attempted.
Arlene Allan is currently completing a book-length study of the god Hermes and his various manifestations in Greek culture.
Dan Osland is currently working on a project that uses the archaeological record from the city of Mérida, Spain, in order to illustrate the kinds of changes that took place in the urban setting across the period of Late Antiquity. The overarching idea behind this work is to add to the published body of evidence as to what factors were most influential in causing urban change in the fourth through eighth centuries AD.
Political uses of Roman Myth
Gwynaeth McIntyre’s current projects focus on the political uses of myth in the Roman imperial period. She is co-editing a volume on Anna Perenna, a goddess whose identities range from Anna, the sister of Dido who became a nymph through a transformation in the river Numicius, to Anna of Bovillae, an old woman who gave cakes to the plebs in their time of need. She is also conflated with other deities such as the Moon, Themis, or the Inachian cow. This project examines how this elusive and enigmatic figure appears in literary, archaeological, numismatic, and epigraphic sources and explores the ways in which Roman mythological figures are adopted and adapted in various media. A smaller project, on the use of Castor and Pollux by Maxentius as a means to legitimize his claim to power in Rome, also addresses similar themes.