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Suetonius on the buildings of Rome

Chris Siwicki (Norwegian Institute in Rome)

Written in the 2nd century AD, Suetonius’ The Lives of the Twelve Caesars – biographies of Rome’s rulers from Julius Caesar to Domitian – is an invaluable reference for details about, and attitudes towards, the ancient city and the building project of its emperors. Suetonius was not purposefully providing readers with this information from a wish to document building activity for its own sake; rather, the material was selected, framed, and cynically edited to serve wider aims in the biographies. Recognising such influences are central to interpreting Suetonius’ remarks on Rome’s buildings and this lecture explores the patterns and variance in his treatment of the subject.

Christopher Siwicki is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The Norwegian Institute in Rome. Much of his research focuses on the city of Rome and ancient architecture, with a particular interest in understanding how meanings become invested in structures, and how people in antiquity viewed their built environments. His publications include the monograph Architectural Restoration and Heritage in Imperial Rome (Oxford University Press, 2019). He has previously held lecturing posts at The Universities of Lincoln, Exeter, and John Cabot, and research fellowships at The British School at Rome and The Warburg. He is currently researching the project ‘The Darkside of Monuments,’ which examines the detrimental effects of, and opposition to, building activity and urban development in ancient Rome.

May 5, 2021 06:00 PM in Rome

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