An inter-disciplinary examination of the use of role models in articulating social and cultural identities in the Roman world


The tendency of ancient Romans to look to mythical and historical figures for role models is everywhere evident in their surviving literary and material culture. This book broadens the horizon of the long-standing scholarly interest in role models in several ways, looking beyond the more familiar famous heroes---such as Achilles and Alexander the Great---and the paternal figures, both mythological and historical, that gave inspiration to later leaders and authors. From the adoption of specific aspects of a favored role model, to the creation of new visual languages for different social groups, to the deliberate counter of common models, this collection demonstrates the importance of exemplary figures in inspiring imitation and assimilation in the creation of new identities.

Featuring world-renowned scholars and essays from a broad range of fields, including literature, art, and historiography, Role Models in the Roman World is a groundbreaking collection at the cusp of the newest scholarship of the classical world.

"Role Models in the Roman World is an exciting collection, striking for the interdisciplinary range of its contributors and for their vigorous debates---indeed, strong disagreements---about ideas that are currently of fundamental importance in Roman studies: identity construction, exemplarity, memory, monumentality. In framing these crucial issues, and in displaying the range and diversity of current approaches to them, this collection will be useful to every student of the Roman world."
---Matthew Roller, Professor of Classics, Johns Hopkins University

"This collection covers a full range of topics, from how the Romans interpreted their origins from the ashes of Troy on through themes in Roman literature, historiography, declamation, and art, ending with how Christians may have defined their self-presentation in part through reference to earlier, non-Christian models. The editors have shown themselves wonderfully adept at their task, and the result is a uniformly fine volume that will be widely consulted."
---Anthony Corbeill, Professor and Graduate Advisor, Department of Classics, University of Kansas

"Significant essays by leading archaeologists, philologists, and art historians on a theme of central importance in the Roman world."
---Barbara Kellum, Professor and Chair, Department of Art, Smith College

Jacket illustration: Side view of statue of Togato Barberini © Araldo de Luca/CORBIS

Sinclair Bell is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome.

Inge Lyse Hansen is Publication Manager at the Butrint Foundation; Assistant Professor of Art History at John Cabot University; and coeditor of The Long Eighth Century: Production, Distribution and Demand (2000), San Vincenzo Al Volturno 3: The Finds from the 1980--86 Excavations (2001), Roman Butrint: An Assessment (2007), and Butrint Archaeological Museum: A Catalogue of the Collections (forthcoming).

"...the volume offers an exemplary demonstration of the appeal of exemplarity as an approach to antiquity."
—Cynthia Damon, Journal of Roman Studies

- Cynthia Damon