Lecture Series - The Grandeur that was Rome

March 28, 2022


We regret that we have had to change the dates from those originally published.

Lecture 1 will now take place on Tue 12 April & Lecture 2 on Wed 20 April. We apologise for the inconvenience.

If you are unable to attend the live session, do not worry - all those who register will automatically be sent copies of the lecture to view in your own time.

The Grandeur that was Rome

The Glory that was Greece, and the Grandeur that was Rome runs Poe's poem, but Dr Christopher Smith, recently retired as Director of The British School at Rome, has always been perplexed by this comparative, indeed seductive pairing. As he will explain, most of the Glory is based on Athens and a lot of the Grandeur is to be found in Italy. His two illustrated lectures will focus on important aspects of the Italian background to Roman success. It will trace a history of over 800 years during which some remarkable monuments and works of art were created, many of which remain to intrigue and dazzle us - not least the great Ara Pacis, pictured above, the Altar of Peace which celebrates a new age of prosperity ushered in by Augustus and his family.

Tuesday 12 April 2022 11am (BST)
Lecture 1 - Rome on the Rise: What happened to the Etruscans?
The great civilisation of the Etruscans, centred north of Rome was characterised by a brilliant material culture, a complex and fascinating religion and a powerful empire. This reflects the astonishing range of cultural contacts establised by the cities of Etruria (moden day Lazio and much of Tuscany) via their trading links stretching from the Phoenician cities on the Leantine coast to Greek traders and colonists. The Etruscans could easily have remained a dominant power in their part of the Mediterranean world, but they were overcome by Rome. Why did they fail, and what did Rome take from the civilisation which was both so geographically close and yet so culturally distinctive?
Wednesday 20 April 2022 11am (BST) 
Lecture 2 - Augustus: First Amongst Equals
The figure often seen as quintessentially Roman is the first emperor, Augustus. Out of the chaos of the late Republic's period of civil war, one man emerged victorious, the young kinsman of the recently murdered Julius Caesar, Octavion. Soon to be transformed by the Senate into the 'first amongst equals' and given the honorific title of Augustus, he was a champion of Italy. His culture minister Maecenas was an Etruscan, and his life and the city he so triumphantly adorned; finding it brick and leaving it marble, was only part of a wider Italian programme of work and benefaction. It is an extraordinary story by any standards.
Lecturer: Christopher Smith 
Christopher Smith is Professor of Ancient History at the University of St Andrews and was Director of the British School at Rome from 2009 to 2017. He studied at Oxford University and has written extensively on the beginnings of the city of Rome and on Roman historical writing. He has published a book on The Etruscans for Oxford University Press for their Very Short Introductions series, and in 2017 was awarded the prestigious Premio “Cultori di Roma” as well as a Leverhulme Research Grant, and will be spending time in Germany, Italy and France, to learn more about the ancient world.

Format for Lecture

Christopher will give two one-hour illustrated lectures for £23.50. During the lecture you will have the chance to submit written questions which Christopher will answer at the end - if time permits.

You will not need to download any software and the lecture will work in any browser. For the best experience use a desktop or laptop - but it will also work on an iPad or similar tablet. You will be also able to re-watch or watch a recording after the lecture.

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