Ritual and the Many Faces of Power

Whether it is in the Hollywood renditions of the Roman World or simply an enduring image in the popular mindset, we are forgiven for thinking that power in the ancient world was wielded via the twin pillars of money and soldiers. While the more violent aspects of Roman rule are inescapable, this is only part of the picture. There are other, more subtle, expressions of ritual and power that can be discovered, some of which have a surprisingly contemporary relevance.

In this seminar, participants will be encouraged to think about how rituals, big and small, combine into a relationship where power exists. The first session will introduce the concept of power in the ancient world, while the second will look more at the subtle ritual of the admission ceremony (where people sought access to high-ranking individuals up to and including the emperor). The final session challenges participants to think about the importance of ritual behaviour in our everyday lives, from our dealings with the Monarchy in the UK through to public behaviour at football matches etc.