Friday, April 03, 2009

Rome's Cultural Revolution




I always love watching Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill discuss ancient Rome on the History Channel because he so obviously enjoys his work and is genuinely fascinated by Roman culture and civilization. Every time I visit Pompeii I hope I will run into him there but so far I have not been so fortunate!

The period of Rome's imperial expansion, the late Republic and early Empire, saw transformations of its society, culture and identity. Drawing equally on archaeological and literary evidence, this book offers an original and provocative interpretation of these changes. Moving from recent debates about colonialism and cultural identity, both in the Roman world and more broadly, and challenging the traditional picture of 'Romanization' and 'Hellenization', it offers instead a model of overlapping cultural identities in dialogue with one another. It attributes a central role to cultural change in the process of redefinition of Roman identity, represented politically by the crisis of the Republican system and the establishment of the new Augustan order. Whether or not it is right to see these changes as 'revolutionary', they involve a profound transformation of Roman life and identity, one that lies at the heart of understanding the nature of the Roman Empire.

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill is Professor of Classics at the University of Reading and has been Director of the British School at Rome since 1995. His previous books are Suetonius: The Scholar and his Caesars (1983), Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum (1994) and Domestic Space in the Roman World (co-edited with Ray Laurence, 1997). He is currently directing a major project on a Pompeian neighbourhood with Michael Fulford and, since 2001, has directed the Herculaneum Conservation Project. He frequently contributes to radio and television programmes on various aspects of Roman life and in 2004 was awarded an OBE for services to Anglo-Italian cultural relations.
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