Legacies of the Roman Republic

Welcome to the conference 'Legacies of the Roman Republic: Law, text, and Spaces, 18-19 January 2024. Below you will find practical information and the programme of the conference.

Call for papers 

Administrative professionalization has conventionally been the hallmark of a modern state. The conceptual separation of the office and its holder has long defined the European way of governance. The origin of this European tradition of the separation of public and private has often been seen in the Roman Republican political organization with its strict responsibilities, term limits and defined powers of its magistracies who operated in public spaces. Nonetheless, this view has been challenged by the recent research on the Roman Republic and its legacy. The conference aims to build a new interpretation of the Roman Republican governance: a comprehensive re-evaluation of the ancient Roman administrative tradition and its links with the European heritage through the lens of Republican and administrative space. The conference seeks to investigate this neglected issue through the spatial analysis of power relations and meanings. The significance of these issues extends much beyond this: the development of administrative space in the European context amounts to nothing less than the emergence of the concept of public. 

The conference advances the idea of republicanism through changes that are addressed via developments in the political, economic and social context from the Roman Republic to the Empire and beyond. While much of the earlier research on Republican administration has been constitutional, focused on authority or the individual magistrates, the conference encourages a new interpretation through spatial and topographical analysis, using unconventional methodological tools to explore the social and cultural dimensions of legal and administrative space. At the center is the confrontation of ideas and their contexts from the Roman Republic to modern republicanism, building on the questions: How did the conflict between Republican ideals, political power, and administrative practices transform the spaces of administration? How did this conflict change the social topography of Rome and other cities and the public and private spheres of governance? How did Rome become the model for the Western administrative state?  

Themes (suggested, but not limited to):

•    The idea of Republican space

•    Administration and space in practice

•    Republican, democratic, and authoritarian architecture?

•    Distinction of public and private in administration and the everyday

•    Development of institutional space from the Roman Republic to the modern era

•    New methodologies to study Republican administrative space

•    Gender, intersectionality and public space 

•    Archaeology and topography of the Roman Republic and magistrates  


Keynote speakers: Valentina Arena, Dunia Filippi, Greg Woolf and Aldo Schiavone. 

The conference is organized by the ERC-funded project Law, Governance and Space: Questioning the Foundations of the Republican Tradition (SpaceLaw), based at the University of Helsinki. There is no conference fee. The organizers are unfortunately unable to aid in either travel or accommodation arrangements or the cost of travel or accommodation. 

Abstracts should be 300 words maximum, for 20-minute papers to be delivered in English. Abstracts should be sent to lawgovernanceandspace@gmail.comThe deadline for abstracts is 1 October 2023

Questions may be sent to samuli.simelius@helsinki.fi

Registration for the conference is now open.

Please register here

Registration will close on 9. January 2024 (EET 23.59).


Dunia Filippi: 'Epistemology of space: a methodological implementation in the study of the Roman city'

Valentina Arena: 'The Censors between Private and Public: An Antiquarian Perspective’

Aldo Schiavone: 'The republican model and Roman political history. Facts and ideologies'

Greg Woolf: 'From Timing to Spacing: shifts in the periodic construction of public spaces in Rome'



Thursday 18.1.2024


9:00-10:00 Keynote: Dunia Filippi: Epistemology of space: a methodological implementation in the study of the Roman city

Chair: Samuli Simelius


10.00-10.15 Coffee break


10:15-12:15 Session 1: Interpreting the space beyond the public and private dichotomy

Chair: Juhana Heikonen

Arnaud Paturet: Some considerations about public and private spheres in Roman legal system

Anna Miączewska: Politicizing Private Space: Roman Household in Times of Unrest

Samuli Simelius: Public and Private - spatiovisual considerations

Kamil Kopij, Adam Pilch, Monika Drab, Szymon Popławski, Kaja Głomb: Can you see me? Can you hear me? Investigating speech audibility and speaker visibility during Roman public assemblies


12.15-13.45 Lunch break


13:45-15:15 Session 2: Diplomats

Chair: Anna-Maria Wilskman

Gregor Diez: Foreign Diplomats in Republican Rome: Communicating Power in Public and Private Space

Gabriel Rosselló: Diplomatic space and performativity as metaphors of power. The example of the III Punic War

Enrique García Riaza and Borja Vertedor Ballesteros: Parva Roma: the topography of diplomatic spaces on provincial soil during the Republic (218-146). The camp as an analogy of the Urbs


15.15-15.45 Coffee break


15:45-17:15 Session 3: Magistrates and administrators

Chair: Antonio Lopez Garcia

Ido Israelowich: The rise of the Roman land surveyors as a judicial authority

Filippo Incontro: Production of space in Africa between Roman Republic and Empire. Considerations on the pertica Carthaginiensium

Anna Tarwacka: Between the private and the public. The censors’ duties of delimiting space


17:30-18:30 Keynote Aldo Schiavone: The republican model and Roman political history. Facts and ideologies

Chair: Kaius Tuori


Friday 19.1.2024


9:00-10:00 Keynote Greg Woolf: From Timing to Spacing: shifts in the periodic construction of public spaces in Rome

Chair: Anna-Maria Wilskman


10.00-10.15 Coffee break


10:15-12:15 Session 4: Republican Rome

Chair: Vesa Heikkinen

Anna-Maria Wilskman: Men becoming monuments: Republican Ideals in the Light of Numismatic Evidence

Antonello Mastronardi: The false flight: How ( and when) Italians returned to Asia after the massacre of 88 BCE and their role in the Sullan settlement of the province

Ian Goh: Three Scipios Moving Through Roman Space

Kaius Tuori: Roman Republicanism as a networked process: Models and methodologies


12.15-13.45 Lunch break


13:45-15:15 Session 5: Basilicae

Chair: TBC

Michael Eisenberg: Civic Basilicae of the provinces of Syria- Palaestina and Arabia and their spatial setting within the polis space

Antonio Lopez Garcia: New Observations on the Yearly Periods of Judicial Trials in Late Republican and Early Imperial Rome

Juhana Heikonen: Changes in Roman Administrative Space from the Principate to Late Antiquity Through Activity Space Research


15.15-15.45 Coffee break


15:45-17:15 Session 6: Reception

Chair: TBC

Carlos Amunátegui Perelló: Libertas and Dominium. A Legacy of the Roman Republican Market Economy

Ville Erkkilä: The hard-working heart of the Roman republic? Spaces of revolution in the socialist understanding of Rome

Vesa Heikkinen: Civil religion in the republican tradition – a Hegelian approach


17:30-18:30 Keynote Valetina Arena: The Censors between Private and Public: An Antiquarian Perspective

Chair: Antonio Lopez Garcia

The conference will be held at the University of Helsinki City Centre Campus:

If you have any questions or need more information concerning the conference, please do not hesitate to contact us:  lawgovernanceandspace@gmail.com


Conference organizing committee

Samuli Simelius

Kaius Tuori

Juhana Heikonen

Antonio Lopez Garcia

Anna-Maria Wilskman

Vesa Heikkinen

Lilian Kiander