Illuminated manuscript images of two men reading from books.

Digestorum juris civilis, Arundel 433 21v (British Library) and Isagoge 42b (National Library of Medicine)

DAY ONE: Medicine and the Law under the Roman Empire: Professionalism, Intellectual Pursuit, Entertainment, and Socio-Political Competition

Conference organized by Claire Bubb (ISAW) and Michael Peachin (NYU Classics)

Ancient Roman medicine and ancient Roman law have traditionally been viewed by scholars as highly specialized and are, therefore, often studied in isolation. This conference will juxtapose the two fields and place them, as a pair, back into their wider ancient context. The first day of the conference will delimit this wider context, probing the topics of competition, rhetoric, professionalism, and literature in the period of the Roman Empire. The second day will highlight the uniquely interesting affinities between the fields, which are nevertheless squarely apiece with the trends of their time. The panels will explore the rhetoric that imbued both the written and the performative aspects of each field; their literatures, which, though technical in subject, nevertheless performed similar tasks for their authors that the more traditional genres of literature did; and the pragmatic, performative natures of both—in the law courts, at the bedside, and in public fora for debate—a dimension of these two fields that other literatures do not possess to the same degree. Finally, the day will close with a consideration of ancient philosophy and the degree to which it shares, and can illuminate, all these aspects of law and medicine. In short, the conference aims to open a new window into our understanding of intellectual life, writ large, in ancient Rome.

PROGRAM - DAY 1 - October 3, 2019
NYU Kimmel/Global Center, 60 Washington Square South, Room 905/907

Framing the Discussion

2:00pm: Claire Bubb (ISAW) and Michael Peachin (NYU Classics)


2:25pm: Competition in the Early Roman Empire: Structure, Characteristics, and New Arenas
Matthew Roller (Johns Hopkins University)

2:55pm: Rhetoric: The Heart, or Just the Lungs, of Most Things Intellectual?
J. E. Lendon (University of Virginia)

3:25pm: Discussion

3:45pm: Break

4:05pm: Expertise and Specialization: Some Roman Case Studies
Alice König (St. Andrews University)

4:30pm: Literature: How to Delimit It, and What It Was ‘For’
Denis Feeney (Princeton University)

5:00pm: Discussion

The conference is co-sponsored by ISAW and the NYU Department of Classics.

Registration is required at

Please check for event updates.

Please note that separate registration is required for Day 1 (October 3rd) and Day 2 (October 4th). Also, please note that Day 1 takes place at the NYU Kimmel/Global Center and Day 2 takes place at ISAW. Access to the NYU Kimmel/Global Center requires an NYU ID card or a government-issued photo ID.

ISAW is committed to providing a positive and educational experience for all guests and participants who attend our public programming. We ask that all attendees follow the guidelines listed in our community standards policy.