The Valle Giulia Dialogues

Monday 27 May 2013 18.00-19.30

The Valle Giulia Dialogues 

Dimitri Van Limbergen (Academia Belgica / Ghent University): ‘Oil and wine production in Roman Picenum. From intra-regional consumption to extra-regional export’

This presentation focuses on a research project that explores the possible role of intra-regional urban consumption of locally produced wine and olive oil in the agrarian economy of central Adriatic Italy (Picenum and the Ager Gallicus) in Late Republican and Early Imperial times (200 BC – AD 100). Intra-regional consumption remains an often underexposed topic in Roman economic scholarship and little attention has been paid to the possible role of the domestic Italian urban market in the transformations that occurred in Italy between 200 BC and AD 100. Instead, such studies have long focused on extra-regional export and provincial import replacement as driving forces behind economic changes in the countryside. Therefore, in order to refine our understanding of the balance between regional consumption and export of wine and oil over time, this project aims at comparing potential agricultural production with potential urban consumption of these two commodities.

Michelle Borg (BSR Coleman-Hilton Scholar/ University of Sydney): ‘Style as substance’: Pliny the Younger on oratory as a reflection of morality in post-Domitianic Rome

Words as weapons, a familiar idiom in literature, was an especially potent metaphor in the first century AD Roman mind: as intrinsically value-neutral as words were, they could be used by an orator for the benefit of good or evil. Indeed, for Quintilian the title orator itself could not be ascribed to the immoral man, regardless of his skill at speaking. In the wake of Domitian’s reign, and in particular the consequential rise of the delatores, the conjunction of ethics with rhetorical theory and practice attained especial significance for men, like Pliny, who wished retrospectively to align themselves with the group of those hostile to Domitian. This paper will explore Pliny’s attempt retrospectively to underline his affinity with the anti- Flavians through a discussion of oratorical style and delivery, which he asserted was indicative of one’s ethical allegiances.