Matthew Roller

Professor of Classics

Gilman 102
Curriculum Vitae


Matthew Roller is a Romanist whose research and teaching is broadly concerned with the literature, history, art, philosophy, and culture of the ancient Roman world. He is the author of two monographs: Constructing Autocracy: Aristocrats and Emperors in Julio-Claudian Rome (Princeton University Press, 2001), and Dining Posture in Ancient Rome: Bodies, Values, and Status (Princeton University Press, 2006).

His current book-scale project, Models from the past in Roman culture: a world of exempla, examines the Roman habit of extracting models and standards from the past to guide action in the present. He published a prolegomenon to this project as, “Exemplarity in ancient Rome: the cases of Horatius Cocles and Cloelia,” and has investigated additional aspects of the question in other articles and chapters.

Beyond exemplarity, he has published on the relationship between monumentality and memory, on the moral philosophy of the younger Seneca, on reciprocity and social exchange. He is particularly interested in the character of aristocratic competition in the early to high Empire, which constitutes his next large-scale project.

Professor Roller’s research has been supported by a Solmsen Fellowship from the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Junior Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, and a Forschungsstipendium (Research grant) from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Professor Roller has been a faculty member at Johns Hopkins since 1994. He served as Chair of the Classics Department for seven years, and in 2012-14 led the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences’ decennial accreditation effort. Currently he serves as Vice Dean for Graduate Education and Centers & Programs in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

At the undergraduate level, Professor Roller regularly teaches advanced Latin reading courses and offers general lecture courses on Roman history and civilization, including, “The Roman Republic: History, Culture, and Afterlife,” and “The Roman Empire.” In 2003 he collaborated with colleagues from three other departments to create the team-taught, interdisciplinary "Great Books at Hopkins" course, offered each fall to incoming freshmen. Recently he pioneered a capstone course for Classics majors and an extension of the “Great Books” franchise called “Great Books II: The Sciences.”

At the graduate level, he has taught research seminars on a wide variety of authors, texts, and topics; he has also regularly taught a Classics Proseminar and a Survey of Latin Literature (an intensive Latin reading course for doctoral students). See CV for full details.

“Precept(or) and example in Seneca.” In G. Williams and K. Volk, eds., Roman Reflections: Studies in Latin Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 129-56.

Between unique and typical: Senecan exempla in a list.” In M. Lowrie and S. Lüdemann, eds., Exemplarity and Singularity. Thinking through Particulars in Philosophy, Literature, and Law (London: Routledge, 2015), 81-95.

The Dialogue in Seneca’s Dialogues (and other moral essays).” In S. Bartsch and A. Schiesaro, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Seneca (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 54-67.

Teaching ‘Theory’ in Topical Graduate Seminars.” Classical World 108 (2015) 195-203. (Contribution to a special “Paedagogus” section on the topic “Literary theory and graduate and undergraduate Classics curricula,” ed. Nigel Nicholson)

The Difference an Emperor Makes: Notes on the reception of the Roman Republican senate in the Imperial age.” Classical Receptions Journal 7 (2015) 11-30. (Special issue: “The Legacy of the Roman Republican Senate,” ed. Catherine Steel)

Volgei nescia: On the Paradox of Praising Women’s Invisibility.” In A. Avramidou and D. Demetriou, eds., Approaching the Ancient Artifact: Representation, Narrative, and Function. A Festschrift in Honor of H. Alan Shapiro (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014), 175-83.

On the intersignification of monuments in Augustan Rome.” American Journal of Philology 134 (2013) 119-31. (Special issue: “Intertextuality,” eds. Y. Baraz and C. Van den Berg)

Politics and invective in Persius and Juvenal.” In S. Braund and J. Osgood, eds., A Companion to Persius and Juvenal (London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 283-311.

The consul(ar) as exemplum: Fabius Cunctator’s paradoxical glory.” In H. Beck, A. Duplá, M. Jehne, and F. Pina Polo, eds., Consuls and Res Publica: holding high office in the Roman Republic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 182-210.

To whom am I speaking? The changing venues of competitive eloquence in the early empire.” In W. Blösel and K.-J. Hölkeskamp, eds., Von der militia equestris zur militia urbana: Prominenzrollen und Karrierefelder im antiken Rom (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2011), 197–221 [.pdf]

Culture-Based Approaches.” In A. Barchiesi and W. Scheidel, eds., Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 234-49.

Demolished houses, monumentality, and memory in Roman culture.” Classical Antiquity 29 (2010) 117-180.

The exemplary past in Roman historiography and culture.” In A. Feldherr, ed., The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 214–30.

The politics of aristocratic competition: innovation in Livy and Augustan Rome.” In W. J. Dominik, J. Garthwaite, and P. Roche, eds., Writing Politics in Imperial Rome (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 153–72.

Exemplarity in Roman culture: the cases of Horatius Cocles and Cloelia.” Classical Philology 99 (2004) 1–56.