HelRaw: Greg Woolf 17.1.2024

Losing the gods. How the Roman elite conquered the world, and lost control of the heavens

This year's first Helsinki Research on the Ancient World seminar (HelRaw) takes place with Greg Woolf (University of California) 17th day of January 2024.  Woolf will talk us about " Losing the gods. How the Roman elite conquered the world, and lost control of the heavens."

Everyone is welcome to join our seminar!


Roman public religion was intensively managed from at least the third century BCE. Festivals, temples, and the addition or exclusion of deities were matters of fierce debate and consumed significant material resources. But although the city of Rome never (has never) stopped accumulating new ritual forms and spaces, Roman religion in the sense of the collective cults of the Roman community seems more and more often to move on autopilot. It is tempting to blame all this on the inertia Caesarum, the emperors who dismantled more than they built. Instead,  I shall argue, these changes are just one manifestation of much wider shifts in the management of cultural projects that can also be seen in the history of representative art, epic and many other spheres.

When: 17.1.2024, at 17:15. 

Where: Metsätalo room 8, Unioninkatu 40

or in Zoom: https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/66640848601?pwd=Nkp5aVB6UzM2Z3liNFRKaFNoWVdJQT09 

Meeting ID: 666 4084 8601

Passcode: 818720


About the Speaker:

Greg Woolf is the Ronald J. Mellor Distinguished Professor of Ancient History in the Departments of History and Classics at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Before taking up this position in July 2021 he was Director of the Institute of Classical Studies at London and before that was Professor of Ancient History at the University of St Andrews (1998-2015). He has degrees from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and has taught at both.

Woolf specializes in the economies, cultures and societies of the ancient Mediterranean, particularly the Roman Empire. He has written monographs on cultural change in the Roman provinces, on ancient ethnography, and on the deep history of urbanism, and co-edited volumes on ancient literacy, Roman religion, the city of Rome, ancient libraries and women’s history. The second edition of his book Rome. An Empire’s Story was published in 2022. Current projects include writing up the Townsend Lectures which he gave at Cornell in 2018 on how Roman Cultures Changed, and the Sather Lectures which he gave at UC Berkeley in Fall 2022 on Seasonality and Society in Rome. He is also writing a book on human mobility in the Roman world.

Much of his work combines historical and archaeological material. He is a former editor of the Journal of Roman Studies and is currently Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Roman Archaeology. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, of the Societies of Antiquaries of Scotland and of London, and a Member of Academia Europea, and has held various visiting fellowships. He divides his time between California and Scotland.