Home > Conferences, Mediterranean Archaeology in North Dakota, The New Media > Michael Fronda’s "Anarchy, Rivalry, and the Beginnings of the Roman Empire"

Michael Fronda’s "Anarchy, Rivalry, and the Beginnings of the Roman Empire"

For all of you who were unable to attend Michael Fronda’s lecture on Thursday, I have made a podcast of the lecture available.  Click here to download the Fronda Lecture.

Three things really stand out about Fronda’s lecture:

1. Modern Models and Ancient Evidence. The model that he used to understand the expansion of the Early and Middle Roman Republic called for the identification of so-called “enduring rivalries” between states that Rome exploited to enforce her hegemony over the Italian peninsula.  This model derived from international relations theory and had clear roots in the Cold War efforts to not only understand but also the justify the binary world of Soviet – US relations.  Despite the very clear historical context for the model’s development, it suited the ancient evidence admirably.  This was a remarkable example of how history draws upon the present to understand the past.  While this may seem like an obvious observation, it will be an excellent point of departure for our undergraduate methods students who often struggle to understand how the present molds the past without slipping into a kind of simplistic presentism.

2. Text and Landscape. Mike’s talk on Thursday (as well as his less formal talk on Friday afternoon in the Department of History) emphasized the role of texts in revealing the political landscape of Italy.  While Mike did not explicit use the word “landscape” in his talk and certainly did not employ the various models that scholars of the ancient landscape have recently come to favor, he nevertheless read the political topography of Italy in a way that linked very local relationships to regional (or even global) regimes of power.  He gave several examples of how the Romans became involved in adjudicating very local territorial disputes and highlighted how the looming threat of Roman political and military power could exacerbated or even produced local rivalries. The projection of Roman power on the local level and typically mediated through local concerns is surely a topic which would reward post-colonial theorizing.  More importantly, it showed how local landscapes could be shaped and “distorted” by the regional powers in ways that might not necessarily be apparent on the ground.

3. The crowd!  As I noted on Friday, Mike’s lecture attracted over 70 people and it is clear that others turned away at the prospect of standing throughout.  While we did what we could to promote the talk on campus, it was great to see folks in attendance who I would not have thought to be interested in Ancient Rome. 

Enjoy the lecture and thanks to everyone who helped make the talk a success.

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  1. November 2, 2009 at 5:03 am

    Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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