Virtual Tour

Ancient Rome and its People: of Bread and Circuses – Wednesday 9 September

Wednesday 9 September


With Dr. Eireann Marshall

While ancient Rome was a city of splendour, most of its inhabitants lived in relative squalour. Impossibly tall apartment blocks which threatened collapse, an overwhelmed sewage system and a polluted River Tiber which flooded periodically, made the every day lives of ordinary Romans precarious. Considering these difficult living conditions and that ancient Rome was a city of more than a million people, one can see how Roman emperors were perennially worried about unrest and the mobs rioting. It is no wonder, then, that emperors spent fortunes on offering the plebs Romana distractions, from magnificent bath complexes to mind boggling spectacles, as well as ensuring a constant supply of food. As Juvenal says in his Satire 10, people were all too easily made happy if they were offered bread and circuses.

In this tour, we will explore the extraordinary lengths Roman emperors went to feed its people. We will be considering the economics of getting grain and oil to the plebs Romana, exploring the statio annonae, now the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, where people received their portions of free dole, as well as the Montetestaccio, the hill made from discarded olive oil sherds. The tour will also explore the incredible engineering which went into constructing the many aqueducts which fed Romans and supplied their enormous bath complexes. A virtual tour of the imperial baths, which are still visible, will consider why they played such an important part in ancient Rome. We will end the tour examining the Flavian Amphitheatre, which still dominates the historic centre of Rome, pondering why the deaths of animals and gladiators were so popular. While life in ancient Rome can’t have been straightforward, its citizens were able to partake in public activities on a scale which weren’t seen again until the Industrial Revolution.

Virtual Tour

Our virtual tours cover a wide array of historical and art-history topics, ranging from antiquity to the early modern period. We explore a variety of historical topics, from the every day life in ancient and early modern cities to representations of power. Exploring both world famous sites and those unknown to most, these lectures will bring history and the history of art to life through tailor made HD filming, as well as perceptive lecturing and lively discussions.

The virtual tours last 60 minutes followed by another 30 minutes of Q&A with our lecturers who will be delighted to answer any of your questions live.

Your Lecturer

Dr Eireann Marshall

Dr Eireann Marshall is a Research Associate and Associate Lecturer with the Open University. She has published a number of articles on Ancient North Africa, and co-edited volumes on 'Death and Disease in the Ancient City' and ‘Women’s influence on Classical Civilisation’. Eireann has led many tours for specialist tour operators, to Italy and North Africa. In 2019 she was awarded Wanderlust Magazine's Top History & Culture Guide at its World Guide Awards.

Event Details

Date: 9 September 2020

Start time: 18:00 GMT

End time: 19:30 GMT

Venue: Zoom Webinar


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