Roman Villas and Elite Ideology

Roman Villas and Elite Ideology


Dr. Annalisa Marzano

Department of Classics, University of Reading, England
Visiting Research Fellow, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World,
New York University

This talk will explore Roman late Republican and Imperial villas and elite ideals pertaining villa life and economic production. Using literary texts and archaeological evidence, the talk will compare the elite ideals of villas to the physical evidence on the ground, revealing how in some instances the picture given by literary source is misleading. The case of maritime villas is exemplary: although they are frequently represented in literature as luxurious, costly and extravagant leisure retreats, the finds suggest that many maritime villas also served as important sites of production, an aspect downplayed in the literary sources because of the important place agriculture had in upper class ideology. The frequent location of villas in highly urbanized areas, close to large cities or to imperial residences, also suggests that they often maintained a representational function. In fact, there is a shift from the Republican to the imperial period: villas that once served as status symbols of wealth, power, and otium, now came to represent their owners’ public personas.

Dr Marzano received a Laurea in Classics (cum laude) from the University of Florence, Italy, and MPhil and PhD degrees (with Distinction) from Columbia University in New York. Before her appointment at Reading she taught at Columbia University and the University of Oxford. At Oxford Dr Marzano was Research Assistant at the Institute of Archeology (2004-2008), Research Staff for the Oxford Roman Economy Project (2005-2008), and W. Golding Research Fellow at Brasenose College (2005-2008). Since 1989 she has taken part in many archaeological projects in Italy, Egypt, and Libya.

Further information: 973-655-3479 or 973-655-7420,

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