28
October

2021 Syme Lecture

Thursday 28 October 2021 18:00 - 19:00
Add to Calendar 2021-10-28T17:00:002021-10-28T18:00:00 2021 Syme LectureThe Leonard Wolfson Auditorium
Location
The Leonard Wolfson Auditorium
Speakers
Professor Richard Saller
Event price
Free
Event type
Annual Lecture
Booking Required
Required
Accessibility
There is provision for wheelchair users.
Contact name
College Secretary
Contact email
college.secretary@wolfson.ox.ac.uk

The annual Syme Lecture will be delivered in 2021 by Professor Richard Saller from the Department of Classics at Stanford University, California.

The lecture will take place in the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium (LWA). The lecture will be also livestreamed in the Buttery overflow and online.

The College operates a mandatory indoor face coverings and one-metre social distancing policy, and we can therefore offer 67 spaces are in the LWA with an additional 30 overflow spaces in the Buttery.

The Lecture will be livestreamed on YouTube here:

Please see lecture title and abstract below:

'The elder Pliny’s Roman economy: the consequences of empire'
The elder Pliny’s Natural History is an astonishing compilation of 20,000 “things worth knowing,” intended to be a useful repository of ancient Mediterranean knowledge and called “the most popular Natural History ever published.” It is our best ancient text to provide insights into Roman ideas about the value of new knowledge and whether innovation contributed to economic growth. Pliny’s monumental work includes many fantastic “facts,” but also some shrewd economic insights that anticipate modern economic thought. Above all, he thought that the Pax Romana promoted trade but the lack of competition with other states suppressed incentives for profitable investigation and innovation. His inventory of more than 100 great inventions in Book 7 includes many that were centuries old--but not a single one from Rome. In some respects the Natural History is a consummately weird collection. There are forty remedies for rabid dogbite. Yet his morals feel more contemporary insofar as his denunciation of the unbridled exploitation of Mother Nature for profit resonates with environmental concerns today. He is, then, curiously both very ancient, and also prescient.