Date

5-4-2020

Description

The cultural shift which occurred in the Roman West during the final century BC and first century AD marks a watershed moment in European history, as the inhabitants of Rome's vast imperial holdings began to abandon their old ways of life in favor of a new set of Greco-Roman customs and values, an event of indelible influence upon the languages, legal systems, and cultural traditions which arose following the collapse of the central government in 476. Numerous theories have been put forward to explain this dramatic shift in the cultural landscape of the period, from suggestions that the common people adopted these new fashions--whether in urban planning or entertainment--in imitation of their social betters, to speculation that Roman styles may simply have offered a more agreeable mode of living. Yet all too often these hypotheses have failed to assign to the common people of this world the agency and complexity with which sources suggest they were possessed. The product of extensive on-site research at early imperial cities in the United Kingdom, Italy, France, and Spain, this project thus attempts to synthesize the enormous body of literary, archaeological, iconographic, and epigraphic evidence on the subject into a systematic understanding of the economic factors which drove everyday individuals to quite literally buy into the violent spectacle of the arena, the unfamiliar world of the bathhouse, and the curious pageant of the theater which the process of Romanization brought to provincial communities.

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May 4th, 12:00 AM

Veni, Vidi, Vendidi: The Economics of Cultural Change in the Roman West

The cultural shift which occurred in the Roman West during the final century BC and first century AD marks a watershed moment in European history, as the inhabitants of Rome's vast imperial holdings began to abandon their old ways of life in favor of a new set of Greco-Roman customs and values, an event of indelible influence upon the languages, legal systems, and cultural traditions which arose following the collapse of the central government in 476. Numerous theories have been put forward to explain this dramatic shift in the cultural landscape of the period, from suggestions that the common people adopted these new fashions--whether in urban planning or entertainment--in imitation of their social betters, to speculation that Roman styles may simply have offered a more agreeable mode of living. Yet all too often these hypotheses have failed to assign to the common people of this world the agency and complexity with which sources suggest they were possessed. The product of extensive on-site research at early imperial cities in the United Kingdom, Italy, France, and Spain, this project thus attempts to synthesize the enormous body of literary, archaeological, iconographic, and epigraphic evidence on the subject into a systematic understanding of the economic factors which drove everyday individuals to quite literally buy into the violent spectacle of the arena, the unfamiliar world of the bathhouse, and the curious pageant of the theater which the process of Romanization brought to provincial communities.