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Prof. Christopher Smith

Professor of Ancient History
On leave 2017-2020

Research profile

Research Interests

The social and economic development of early Rome & Latium, particularly as evidenced through archaeology and comparative developments in the southern and eastern Mediterranean.  Within this, I have addressed general aspects of urbanization and state formation.

The evolution and legal and symbolic significance of republican political institutions, particularly the gens, and how these were characterised by contemporary sources  and interpreted in the modern historiography of the subject from Sigonio to Vico, Lewis Henry Morgan, Engels and Marx to the current day.

My interest in historiography, with a specific interest in fragmentary Roman historians, extends to Greek historiography and to writers such as Plutarch, Pliny the Elder and Aulus Gellius, who are our sources for much fragmentary literature, as well as the periods of the late Republic which generated the most substantial historical accounts. This in turn has led to work on Cicero.

My next project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, uses Roman kingship as a point of departure for a broader study of power in archaic societies, and the legacy of Roman ideas about sovereignty in the modern day.


For further information on publications, please view my profile on the university's research portal.

Research students

I have supervised successful doctoral theses on Women in the 5th century Greek myth and tragedy, and Rome and Sicily during the Punic Wars; Roman provincial administration in Sicily in the time of Verres; and the language of popular politics in the late Republic

I have engaged my research students in publication and other research activity and I believe this is a very important part of my role as a supervisor. Two of my research students have edited conference proceedings with me for publication; and others have been involved in digitisation projects, running conferences, or in editorial assistance.

I am very interested in creating groups of students to work together. Areas where I think there could be exciting work for us include Roman historiography and oratory, and all aspects of Republican Roman history, but especially early Rome, and the politics of the middle and late republic. Roman religion in the Republic is an area where I have published and hope to continue to work.

I would welcome approaches from any student, including international students, to discuss their ideas for potential research topics.

Religion in the Roman Empire

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