Greg Aldrete, Professor of Humanistic Studies (History), has won the Solmsen Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Institute for Research in the Humanities for the academic year, 2010-2011. This is a residential fellowship at the Institute for Research in the Humanities in Madison.

Here’s his project description:

Riots in Ancient Rome: The inhabitants of ancient Rome seem to have been a riotous lot.  For the 575-year period from 200 BC to AD 375, there are at least 154 episodes of unruly collective behavior in the city of Rome that could be considered riots (an overall frequency of 1 significant riot every 3.7 years).   The worst of these resulted in pitched battles in the streets, hundreds of deaths, widespread looting, acts of arson, and even the lynching of leading magistrates of the state.   Due to such incidents, Rome has often been characterized as a lawless and violent place, and its inhabitants, especially the poor, portrayed as disorderly and fickle.   The reality, however, is considerably more complex.   Many outbreaks were organized, instigated, and exploited not by the indigent, but rather by Rome’s political and social elites.   Furthermore, acts of violent urban collective behavior frequently occurred within the constraints of a tacit but nevertheless well-recognized set of informal societal expectations.  Finally, the motivations of those who participated were far more varied than the primary sources typically depict.  The goal of this project is to produce a scholarly book that is a comprehensive study of the riots that plagued ancient Rome during the Republic and Empire, and which not only explores their history, but also offers a more nuanced investigation of their causes, characteristics, organization, and effects.