Matthew Roller

Matthew Roller

Professor of Classics

Contact Information

Research Interests: Latin literature; Roman social and cultural history; Graeco-Roman philosophy

Education: PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Matthew Roller is a Romanist whose research and teaching are broadly concerned with the literature, history, art, philosophy, and culture of the ancient Roman world.  He is the author of three monographs: Constructing Autocracy: Aristocrats and Emperors in Julio-Claudian Rome (Princeton University Press, 2001), Dining Posture in Ancient Rome: Bodies, Values, and Status (Princeton University Press, 2006), and Models from the Past in Roman Culture: A World of Exempla (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Professor Roller has broad interests in the relationship between monumentality and memory in ancient Rome, in the moral philosophy of the younger Seneca, and in Roman reciprocity and social exchange. He is particularly interested in aristocratic competition in ancient Rome, and how that competition develops and changes from the middle Republic to the high Empire.  His current book-scale project is an investigation of the arenas of competitive eloquence in the early Imperial period, from the Augustan age into the 2nd century CE.

Professor Roller’s research has been supported by major awards from the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation; he has also received smaller awards from diverse funders to support particular projects.

Professor Roller has been a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University since 1994. His service to the institution includes chairing the Classics Department for seven years and the Anthropology Department for one year. Also, from 2012 to 2014 he led the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences’ decennial accreditation effort, and from 2015 to 2020 he served 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, capstone courses for junior and senior classics majors, and also offers general courses to broader audiences 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, which continues to be offered each fall to incoming freshmen.

At the graduate level, he teaches research seminars on a wide variety of authors, texts, and topics, as well as the graduate Survey of Latin Literature; in the past he has regularly taught a Classics proseminar. See his Curriculum Vitae for full details on past teaching.

“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.