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Ancient World Seminar - BART DANON: 'Wealth and Office in Roman Italy: Status dissonance and the resilience of the Roman timocratic system'

When:Tu 19-12-2023 16:15 - 17:00
Where:Court Room, Faculty of Religion, Culture and Society (Oude Boteringestraat 38)

For this last Ancient World Seminar before the Christmas holidays and the New Year, there will be Glühwein and Christmas cookies served outside the Court Room! 

No registration is required. If you would like to join the dinner after the Christmas drinks, please register by sending an email to


The fact that there were wealthy people outside the traditional Roman socio-political orders (with rich and munificent freedmen and women as their best-known exponents) has been acknowledged for a long time. The ‘status dissonance’ of these individuals has however mostly been interpreted as a potential risk to social and political stability. In this paper, I argue that these ‘status dissidents’ also contributed positively to societal stability, and in particular to that of the Roman timocratic political system. Within the resilience paradigm, they can be understood as the buffers of the timocratic system, constituting its reserves in case of exogenous pressures or shocks. I substantiate my argument by juxtaposing the evidence of demographic and economic pressure on the political system of Roman Italy, its buffers (wealth outside the orders) and failures (shortages of candidates). The analysis reveals clear concordances between buffer size and incidence of system failure within the distinct trajectories of the Italian political system at its different levels (senatorial, curial).

About the speaker

Bart Danon is Assistant Professor of Ancient history at University of Groningen. His research is focused on socio-economic history of Roman Empire, ancient economic inequality, Roman slavery, Roman urbanisation, mass violence and genocide in Roman warfare, as well as military logistics in the Late Roman Republic.