Tacitus' prism: the reality of Roman Egypt

Posted by pt91 at Oct 31, 2011 10:23 AM |
The origins of prevailing stereotypes of Egypt to be explored in public lecture

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 31 October 2011

The true face of life in Roman Egypt will be laid bare in a lecture by a former University of Leicester historian on 1 November.

Dr Colin Adams will be giving the 11th Dorothy Buchan Memorial Lecture, 'Tacitus' prism: the reality of Roman Egypt', for the University’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History. It will take place at 5.30pm in Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre 2 and is free and open to the public.

The lecture offers a new insight into Tacitus, a famous Roman historian of the Imperial period (living in the early second century AD) and a key resource for historians of the Roman period, who was quite a polemical and tendentious writer.

The subject matter promises to show how we can escape from prevailing stereotypes about Egypt - in modern times no less than ancient - and the kind of misleading assumptions about 'The Orient' in general that scholars in recent years have been working to overthrow.

Dr Adams said; “Tacitus saw Egypt as one of the secrets of empire, on which the autocratic position of the emperor Augustus and his successors was based. The richest and most populous of Rome's provinces, the traditional picture is of Egypt as the granary of Rome, but an unruly province, populated by barbarous animal-worshipping Egyptians, ignorant of law and civil government.

“That is Tacitus' view, and that of some modern scholars! However, when considered in the light of papyrological evidence, and when we take into account and explain Tacitus' prejudices, the reality is very different indeed.”

Dr Colin Adams, now senior lecturer at the University of Liverpool, was a Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Leicester from 2000 to 2005.

Professor Graham Shipley, Professor of Ancient History at the University, said “We are delighted that Colin has returned to give this year’s Dorothy Buchan Memorial Lecture. His world-class research in Ancient History played its part in building the successful, integrated research profile of the School of Archaeology & Ancient History that we see today.

“The Buchan Lectures commemorate Mrs Dorothy Buchan, headteacher of Leicester High School for Girls, who studied part-time in the School during her retirement and died unexpectedly at the age of 69 in the year 2000.

“We are grateful to her family and friends, as well as colleagues in the University and elsewhere, for their generous donations to the fund endowing the lecture, which now also supports an undergraduate dissertation prize in Ancient History named after Dorothy as well.”

The lecture is funded by the Dorothy Buchan Fund and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies and is also held under the auspices of the Classical Association.

For further enquiries on the lecture contact Rachel Godfrey in the School of Archaeology & Ancient History on 0116 252 2611.

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