Throughout my research career, I have studied the workings of power, and especially imperial power. I have worked on power in its material forms: political and military power, economic power; but also on power in its more subtle appearances, in ideologies. In understanding these questions, I have often borrowed from disciplines from outside Classics, and I think that my work is distinctive through its eclecticism and theoretical engagement. I want to know what makes individuals work in societies.
I have pursued that study in relations to antiquity, and especially Roman history. That choice was partly a matter a chance, and partly because something about Rome and its history struck a chord. Roman history appeals to me for three reasons:
1. It is different. There is a distance between ourselves and the Romans that is far from easy to cross. That distance gives us a critical perspective.
2. Although the Romans think so differently , their problems are so often familiar. They lived in a complex, multifaceted, imperial society. One can see how that society worked, and how it shaped lives, and how individuals attempted to make lives in these political and social circumstances. In this way, the Romans seem very real, their problems very familiar.
3. Rome has had a hold on the modern imagination. Throughout modern Western cultures, antiquity (Greek or Roman) has been the great political and social laboratory, where thinkers have made up their ideas. The idea of Rome has helped shape our world, as our world has helped shaped the idea of Rome.
My research has been shaped by an interest in power in society. This research can be grouped into main areas: The City and its Reception; The Individual in Society; Theory and History.