What’s Greek about Roman architecture? Attaching labels to buildings in Imperial Rome

WEDNESDAY 22 MAY 18.00–19.30 

Christopher Siwicki (BSR; Exeter)

This lecture examines how the ancients attached meaning to architecture; specifically, the extent to which audiences in the city of Rome associated particular forms, styles, and materials with Hellenic culture. While robust, though often overly simplified, typologies of what we recognise as ‘Greek’ and ‘Roman’ styles have been established, it is far from apparent that the distinctions were recognised in antiquity. This is especially true of the mid-Imperial period, when designs and materials that at an earlier date were distinctly Hellenic in origin had become standard in buildings across the Roman Empire. Yet the second century AD was also a period of renewed interest in expressions of Hellenic identity – how was this achieved in the built environment? Focusing on the reign of Hadrian, the lecture reassesses the labelling of architecture as ‘Greek’, ‘Roman’, ‘Hellenic’, and explores how statements about identity and culture were invested in buildings.