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Greek Myth and Roman Empire 146 to 240 BCE

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Lunch Lecture


October 29, 2021

Event Subtitle / Short Description

This event is open to Princeton faculty, staff and students


Pre registration is required.  

Lunch will be provided for in-person attendance.

Face coverings are required when not actively eating or drinking


In-Person attendance - Click here to register

Zoom Registration -  Click here to register




Speaker & Affiliation

Jay Fisher, Rutgers University


12:00 pm - 1:20 pm
161 East Pyne


When Scipio Aemilianus quoted Homer as he watched Carthage meet a fiery end in 146 BCE, he did not simply demonstrate his Greek cultural competence, he was also making a commentary on empire as the Romans practiced it. As I hope to demonstrate, the Romans had been using Greek myth in Latin and Greek as one way of understanding their rapidly acquired empire in a world of empires for some time before the sack of Carthage. Aemilianus’ use of Homer at a moment of imperial violence not only addresses an obvious aspect of empire, but also the sack of a city where the Carthaginians once ruled an empire controlled by an oligarchy from their imperial center, a form of empire that bore significant similarities to the Roman empire of the middle Republic. Although there is much less evidence for the use of Greek myth to think with about empire in 240 BCE, there is enough to say that the presentation of the first tragedy in Latin in that year was yet another imperial moment. The Romans first obtained an overseas empire after the First Punic War ended in 241 BCE and appear to have adopted the Carthaginian model of empire in their newly acquired overseas provinces. These circumstances, I suggest, made the Romans willing to accept Livius Andronicus’ first attempt at a Greek tragedy in Latin and to continue to produce literary versions of Greek myth in Latin that would serve a part of a larger bricolage of empire.