February 2017


Andrew Horne - Cicero, Horace, and the Bonds of Society

  • Monday, 6 February 2017 - 6:30pm
AAR Lecture Room

Description: What holds a community together? I propose to reconstruct two contrasting approaches to the social bond (vinculum societatis) that were developed in first-century BC Rome as the institutions of the Republic went to pieces. For Cicero, the social bond is virtue. The free decision of the citizens to practice justice underwrites all the institutions of the state, from private to religious to constitutional law. Horace, writing a decade after Cicero’s death, offers a different and a polemical answer: forgiveness. A society cannot be based on virtue, Horace argues, when virtue is impossible to guarantee. Better to found the state on human weakness than human strength. These two approaches to the social bond are attempts to grapple with the dissolving fabric of the Roman state. And behind both there is the fear that in fact nothing holds the citizens together but common institutions; and that when the institutions go, so will the state.

Andrew Horne is the Arthur Ross Rome Prize Fellow in Ancient Studies at the American Academy in Rome and Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Classics at the University of Chicago.

The shoptalk will be held in English. You can watch this event livestreamed at

Please note: valid photo ID is required for entry into the American Academy in Rome. Backpacks and luggage with dimensions larger than cm 40 x 35 x 15 (inches 16 x 14 x 6) are not permitted on the property. There are no locker facilities available.