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Faculty of Classics



I am interested in the social, cultural and economic history of Roman élites. The questions which drive my research are: How does inequality arise? How can it be measured? How is it maintained across generations? And how has it (at times) been mitigated in the Roman world?

I have recently completed a history of the Roman imperial élite, From Republican Empire to Universal State: Emperors, Senators and Local Élites in Early Imperial and Late-Antique Rome (c. 25 BCE - 400 CE), to appear with Pennsylvania University Press in 2022. Bridging the gaps between Early Empire and Late Antiquity, and between cultural and economic history, this book explores the differences that separate the Roman senate from the ruling groups of other pre-modern states.

My current project explores the history of wealth in Rome. It examines the extent to which contemporary theories on the origins of inequality can usefully be applied to the largest empire of ancient Eurasia. For this purpose, it will assess the size and distribution of the Roman capital stock. It focuses on the role played by public and other collective institutions in constraining the concentration of private wealth.

Finally, I am interested in comparative history. I have co-edited a volume on the relationship between local and imperial élites in different ancient empires and another edited volume (inspired by the oeuvre of David Graeber) on the history of value in Antiquity. Taken together, these projects seek to sharpen our understanding of what is distinctive about the history of the Roman Mediterranean by situating it in a larger comparative context.



Key publications: 

From Republican Empire to Universal State: Monarchy, State Formation and Elite Power in Early Imperial and Late Antique Rome (27 BCE-476 CE), Empire and After, Pennsylvania University Press, Philadelphia, 2022.

Edited Books
Debt in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East: Credit, Money and Social Obligation (c. 700 BCE – 700 CE), Oxford University Press, New York, 2022.

Myles Lavan, Richard Payne and John Weisweiler (eds), Cosmopolitanism and Empire: Universal Rulers, Local Élites and Cultural Integration in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East, Oxford Studies in Early Empires, Oxford University Press, New York 2016.

Articles (selection)
'Capital Accumulation, Supply Networks and the Composition of the Roman Senate', 14-235 CE', Past & Present 253 (2021).

'The Heredity of Senatorial Status in the Early Empire', Journal of Roman Studies 110 (2020) 29-56.

'El capital en el siglo IV: Poder aristocrático, desigualdad y estado en el imperio romano', in: M. Campagno, J. Gallego, C.G. García Mac Gaw (eds), Capital, deuda y desigualdad: Distribuciones de la riqueza en el mediterráneo antiguo, Estudios del Mediterráneo Antiguo 12, Miño y Dávila, Buenos Aires 2017, 147-158.

'Unraveling the Fall: Republicanism, Monarchism and the History of Decline and Fall in Rome', in: Takashi Minamikawa (ed), Decline and Decline Narratives in the Greek and Roman Worlds, Kyoto University, Kyoto 2017, 87-101. 

'Populist Despotism and Infrastructural Power in the Later Roman Empire', in: Clifford Ando und Seth Richardson (eds), Ancient States and Infrastructural Power: Europe, Asia and America, Empire and After, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia 2017, 149-178.

'From Empire to World-State: Ecumenical Language and Cosmopolitan Consciousness in the Later Roman Aristocracy', in: Myles Lavan, Richard Payne and John Weisweiler (eds), Cosmopolitanism and Empire in Ancient Eurasia: Universal Rulers, Local Elites and Cultural Integration, Oxford Studies in Early Empires, New York 2016, 187-208. 

(with Myles Lavan and Richard Payne:) 'Cosmopolitan Politics: Assimilation and Subordination in Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Empires', in: Myles Lavan, Richard Payne and John Weisweiler (eds), Cosmopolitanism and Empire: Universal Rulers, Local elites and Cultural Integration in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East, Oxford Studies in Early Empires, New York 2016, 1-28.

'Honorific Statues and the Formation of a Global Memoryscape in the Later Roman Empire', in: Karl Galinsky and Kenneth Lapatin (eds), Cultural Memories in the Roman Empire, Getty Trust Publications, Los Angeles 2016, 66-85.

'The Roman Aristocracy between East and West: Divine Monarchy, State-Building and the Transformation of the Roman Senatorial Order (c. 25 BCE – 425 CE)', in: Takashi Minamikawa (ed), New Approaches to the Later Roman Empire: Proceedings of a Conference held at Kyoto University on 8 March 2014, Kyoto University, Kyoto 2015, 31-52. 

'Domesticating the Senatorial Elite: Universal Monarchy and Transregional Aristocracy in the Fourth Century AD', in: Johannes Wienand (ed), Contested Monarchy: Integrating the Roman Empire in the Fourth Century AD, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2014, 17-41.

'From Equality to Asymmetry: Honorific Statues, Imperial Power and Senatorial Identity in Late-Antique Rome', Journal of Roman Archaeology 25 (2012), 319-350.

'The Price of Integration: State and Élite in Symmachus' Correspondence', in: Peter Eich, Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner and Christian Wieland (eds), Staatlichkeit und Staatswerdung in Spätantike und Früher Neuzeit, Universitätsverlag Winter, Heidelberg 2011, 346-375.

'Christianity and War: Ammianus on Power and Religion in Constantius' Persian War', in: Andy Cain and Noel Lenski (eds), Seventh Conference on Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity, Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot 2009, 383-396.

(with Christoph Riedweg:) ‘Gute Freunde, schlechte Freunde: Nochmals zu Plaut. Bacch. 540-51’, Hermes 132.2 (2004), 141-151.

University Lecturer in Classics
Fellow and Director of Studies at St John's College
Not available for consultancy


Latest news

Corbett Lecture 2021, “Sympathy and the Problem of Nature”

6 October 2021

Professor Brooke Holmes, Princeton University, will deliver this year’s Corbett Lecture in G19 on Thursday October 21 at 5.00 p.m.

Collaboration between the Faculty of Classics and the University of Ghana

20 October 2021

We are proud to announce that the Faculty of Classics has established a collaborative link with the University of Ghana, generously funded by the Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research fund. Developing new connections with Ghana promises to open up new possibilities for research and teaching, which will be beneficial for both...


19 October 2021

The podcast for Aldborough Roman Town , written and presented by Dr Rose Ferraby, is now available. See the project page for more information .

Onassis Foundation endowing a fellowship for the creation of a new post in Classics

12 October 2021

A new University post linked to Newnham will continue a College tradition of teaching, research, and taking Classics out into the wider world that goes back more than a century to Jane Harrison. Newnham College, Cambridge is launching the Onassis Classics Fellowship in order to secure a permanent position for the teaching...