Roman Decline and American Carnage: Considering Decline and Renewal in the Age of Trump

Lecture | October 24 | 1-2:30 p.m. | 3335 Dwinelle Hall

 Edward Watts, Professor, Department of History, UC San Diego

 Department of History

The twinned notions of Roman decline and renewal are one of the few features of Roman life that link the Republic of Cato the Elder, the empire of Trajan Decius, the regime of Justinian, and the Frankish court of Charlemagne. This continuity is particularly striking because the causes of Roman decline, the ways in which it is measured, and even the very concept of Rome all shift as decline and renewal are adapted to suit new contexts. But one other thing is constant. Roman decline and renewal are repeatedly deployed to justify reactionary policies and acts of aggression. This talk shows the danger of allowing figures to invoke decline and renewal by tracing how these notions evolve violently across Roman history—and then considering how similar concepts are being deployed in the US right now.

 samuel_stubblefield@berkeley.edu, zhengyuan.zhang@berkeley.edu, elm@berkeley.edu