McClanahan Lecture Series
Lampreys and the Birth of Roman Imperial Jurisdiction
Dr. Zach Herz, University of Colorado Boulder
Thursday, February 17th, 2022 | 7:00 p.m. | Hybrid
Vedius Pollio liked feeding people to lampreys. According to an urban legend that circulated in Imperial Rome, the emperor Augustus saved one of Pollio’s slaves from this grisly fate and punished Pollio for his brutality. In this talk, Dr. Herz considers what the Pollio story can tell us about how emperors worked. It reveals the complex mechanics of Augustan messaging, and offers a glimpse into the freighted moral questions raised by imperial power. What does it mean to go to the emperor for justice? What can he offer that other decisionmakers can’t? And what could justice even mean in the autocracy of the enslaving household, on one hand, or of the Principate on the other? Come for the man-eating fish, stay for the jurisdictional conflict.
This lecture is free and will be given in person (Eaton Humanities 250) and simultaneously hosted on Zoom.
This lecture is sponsored by Mary E.V. McClanahan. CU Classics is grateful for her generous support.