Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision
Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.
This dissertation examines Roman spectacles from the Severan period as a medium for dynastic promotion. Recently scholars have shown a renewed interest in the Severan age. It is the intention here to investigate how the Severan emperors used spectacles to legitimize themselves and to maintain their power, authority, and control over Rome, something especially important given the tumultuous nature of the period. My investigation includes analysis of the literary sources, epigraphy, numismatics, mosaics, reliefs, and archaeological remains in order to better understand spectacles and their use for dynastic promotion. The introductory chapter outlines the issue of Severan spectacles, demonstrating the importance of further investigation in this area. It also includes a discussion of definitions of spectacle, a commentary on the main literary sources (Cassius Dio, Herodian, the Historia Augusta, and Tertullian), and an exploration of the events that led to the establishment of the Severan dynasty. Chapter 2 examines annual ludi (festivals) and the Secular Games (ludi saeculares) of Septimius Severus held in 204 CE. Also included is an analysis of the revival of Greek-style athletics and competitions (agones) in Rome and Elagabalus’ midsummer festival. Chapter 3 looks at festival buildings in Rome, while Chapter 4 studies spectacles and pomp, focusing on processions (pompae) preceding the games, triumphal processions, and the profectio and adventus in Rome. Chapter 5 investigates dynastic events including birthdays (dies natales), funerals (funera censoria), and weddings (nuptiae). Chapter 6 focuses on an examination of spectacles in the provinces, including the revival of the Pythian Games under Severan influence, local agonistic festivals held in honour of the emperor, provincial adventus and festivals coinciding with imperial visits to provincial areas and military spectacles. This dissertation expands our understanding of spectacles in the Severan age. In a period, fraught with civil strife and conflict, spectacles offered an opportunity for the emperor to demonstrate his benefaction, to create a positive public image for himself, and to associate himself with the great emperors of the past, especially Augustus. Through its use of spectacles, the Severan dynasty left a lasting impression on the Roman world.
Master's Student Supervision
Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.
Following its disastrous defeat to Hannibal at Lake Trasimene in 217 BCE, Rome appointed Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus as dictator, with a mandate to do whatever was necessary to protect Rome. The strategy of delay and containment which Fabius created was effective but extremely unpopular, and caused the dictator’s political opponents to attack his slow prosecution of the war. As his unpopularity mounted and he faced mutiny from his own army, Fabius badly needed to rescue his reputation. A little-studied episode gave him the opportunity when Hannibal demanded a ransom for his captured Roman prisoners. Fabius negotiated the captives’ release, but when the Senate refused to fund the ransom, Fabius sold his estates and paid it personally. In doing so, he gained the personal loyalty of the troops he freed, and set a precedent which would have ramifications for the relationship between soldiers and their generals for generations to come. Fabius was the first Roman commander to find himself in a position of personal responsibility for a large-scale ransom of Roman prisoners. An adroit politician, he was quick to recognize the potential benefits to his own career. Fabius’ military strategy has been well studied, but less attention has been paid to examining his dictatorship in terms of the performative nature of Roman command. Too often viewed as simply an altruistic man and a passive commander, Fabius deserves greater credit for his political acumen and the effectiveness with which he curated his reputation in the midst of crisis. This thesis examines the tensions which arose between the Senate and Fabius, and the means by which the dictator was able to manipulate existing social systems, including patronage and religious duty, to restore his reputation among the army and the people of Rome. It also examines how the close bonds established between Fabius and his ransomed troops forged a pattern of army loyalty to an individual general rather than to the state, a pattern which had dangerous ramifications for the later Republic.
No abstract available.