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“Polly Want a Caesar? Talking Birds and Prophetic Birds in Early Imperial Rome”
February 13, 2015 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm | Humanities 1, Room 520Free
In Republican Rome, birds had served as the messengers of the gods, communicating in ways that only a few religious specialists could fully understand and interpret. At the turn of the first century CE, these same birds began to speak plain Latin, apparently endorsing the new regime of the Caesars in language that anyone could understand. On closer examination, however, these talking birds turn out to be transmitting a much more troubling message about the constitution of the Roman body politic at a moment of uncertainty and rapid change.
Martin Devecka is a post-doctoral fellow at Yale University who will join the Classical Studies faculty at UC Santa Cruz in 2015-16. He is a cultural historian with a special interest in applying the methods of sociology to the ancient world. Current projects include a comparative history of ruins, a historical zoology of the Roman Empire, and an investigation of peripatetic attitudes toward technology.