Almost as soon as I was back from Rome and managed to submit a grant application the proposal of which I was manically editing at the Fiumicino airport and cutting down on my laptop in the air plane to the irritation of the lady sitting next to me, it was time to prepare for the big event with Andrew Wallace-Hadrill and Ingrid Edlund-Berry in the Section of Classical Archaeology and Ancient History. Not that I had anything to do with the details, since they had been planned and organised by Professor Arja Karivieri, but I was one of the people who helped with the book sales, moved the tables and chairs away from the lecture room to make way to the reception and cleared afterwards.
The long waited volume of the 2009 conference to celebrate the Centenary of Classical studies in Sweden and the memory of the first Viktor Rydberg professor Gösta Säflund at Stockholm got a worthy release at Stockholm on Friday at 3pm. The volume, The Attitudes towards the Past in Antiquity, was presented by Professor emerita Ingrid Edlund-Berry from Austin, Texas, who effortlessly first went down the memory lane describing the old premises on Drottninggatan in central Stockholm and her first lectures in Classical studies in Swedish. She continued by telling about the characteristics of the professor and described his scholarly rigorousness to the audience before switching to English to discuss the different themes in the volume.
It turned out that Ingrid – and apparently some of the other contributors – had first doubted the wideness of the topic, but little they knew how in vogue they were going to be. The volume covered a long chronological range from early Greece to the Late Antiquity, but apparently was unexpectedly thin on the Etruscans, the traditional mainstay of the Swedish classical archaeologists. Nevertheless, the perceptions of the Etruscans by the others and historic themes on the cinerary urns from Volterra were among the topics. Otherwise, Ingrid regrouped the papers after presenting the sectioning created by the sessions and the editors, Brita Alroth and Charlotte Scheffer. She discussed the textual presentations, memory and visual representations of the past, and suggested that all participants expanded their knowledge of the past and new research during the conference.
As a further celebration of the volume, Arja had invited Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, the former director of the British School at Rome and the current Director of Research at the Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge to give a talk on Immigrants in Imperial Rome in which he discussed the relationship between the Roman citizenship and identity. Andrew had already given an open lecture on Herculaneum and its conservation project, funded by the Packard Humanities Fund and backed by David W. Packard. Andrew told us enthusiastically about the conservation work and the latrine excavations at Herculaneum, but our end at the table in the restaurant after the book release agreed that the Immigration talk was just brilliant and the best we had heard from Andrew. We will see how all new details and research in a paper that hopefully will come out in the next number of Opuscula. It will feature some of my old and current favourites, namely population figures and inscriptions.
I doubt that Andrew’s more contemporary comments swiping the Conservative government in UK trying to make it difficult for non-European students and researchers to enter the country – and basically ruining the University system - will make it to the final article. Considering the past, Andrew pointed out to the growing unease among many scholars towards the traditional population estimates when it comes to the estimated numbers of women, children and slaves – not to mention foreigners – in Rome based on the census numbers of free male Roman citizens. Alessandro Launaro has already shown in his sublime book how archaeological surveys show independently from the historical data that the high population estimates and huge population growth during the Late Republican period in Italy are most likely to be true. Andrew reminded us that the fact-like statement that Rome had one million inhabitants could be totally wrong, since its source is Hopkins and Brunt (Italian Manpower 225 B.C. - A.D. 14) and the eyebrow-raisingly low estimates for the numbers of women, children and slaves in the households of male Roman citizens. As Andrew suggested, Rome would have had ground to halt without a considerably higher ratio between free and slaves.
At the core of Andrew’s paper was his new analysis of the Album of Herculaneum and its roll of Roman male citizens. Only a minority was genuinely Roman citizens by birth and high proportion were children of liberated slaves. Many names did not reveal the status of the named, but when following different law suites and the destinies of different citizens-to-be he could show that many may have been Latins promoted to citizenships and their three-part names not of those of the Romans, but those of the Latins. He also reminded us that the citizenship status was defined on the basis of the status of the mother and existing official marriage between citizens, which was a source of frowning and towing about the statuses in courts when the women with non-citizen spouses were not required to register the citizen children. The sources shows that those with a crew of neighbours testifying that they had been born free, could keep or have their shady citizenships.
The Romans were surprisingly ignorant to know who wandered to Rome and stayed there. Expulsions of foreigners were unusual and rare, and even if the identity as a liberated or a citizen was apparently important, at core not all slaves were chained, but were magistrates and other respectable individuals. There were a wide range of statuses and a sliding scale of identities. While citizenship was important for voting and free grain, the traditions changed and lived to fit the changing times. Maybe the tolerance the Romans showed towards the newcomers is something modern politicians should not forget to take into their stride.
The last two days were interesting, fun and inspiring – not the least by the surprise turn of Antero Tammisto, the director of the Finnish Pompeii project. The two evenings were full of lovely discussions in English, Swedish and Finnish that revealed a surprise connection with Andrew and Jo in Leicester and Anstey and with Ingrid in Lidingö where I live in UK and Sweden respectively. When I am writing this, I have parted with the professors and let them to see the Pompeii exhibition in Stockholm in the fog and falling snow on a grey Saturday. I am gathering strength after busy three weeks in order to have a dinner with my Finnish friend and a key member of the Finnish Pompeii team who is in town to see figure skating. Another evening and another restaurant ahead with lively discussions on Italy, Pompeii and archaeology. My normally quiet life in Stockholm has momentarily been exciting and required a lot of sitting at nice tables with good food.