skip to content

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 through which means has it been mitigated in the Roman world?

I am currently finishing 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), under contract with Pennsylvania University Press. 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 next 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. I will focus 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 am currently finishing another edited volume 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, under contract.

Edited Books
Debt in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East: Credit, Money and Social Obligation in David Graeber's Axial Age (c. 700 BCE – 700 CE), Oxford University Press, New York, under contract.

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
Dr John  Weisweiler
Not available for consultancy


Latest news

Language Teaching Assistant

25 July 2021

Details of how to apply for this part time teaching post are now avilable online . Deadline Monday 23rd August 2021.

Open letter on anti-racism: a response from the Faculty Board of Classics

16 July 2021

The response to the Open Letter on anti-racism, together with an action plan outlining the Faculty’s strategy, is now available online. Read here for more details

Martin Millett elected as President of the Society of Antiquaries of London

7 July 2021

Professor Martin Millett FBA, Laurence Professor of Classical Archaeology and Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, has been elected as President of the Society of Antiquaries of London (2021-24). Founded in 1707, the Society of Antiquaries of London is an educational charity that promotes the understanding of the human past and...

Classics student Lylaah Bhalerao receives a Fulbright Award

5 July 2021

Classics MPhil student Lylaah Bhalerao (Murray Edwards 2017), has received an All Disciplines Fulbright Award to enable her to study at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University. Lylaah has been selected from a strong applicant pool to pursue doctoral research into how to decolonise ancient...