CCANESA / Classics and Ancient History seminar: Elisabeth Slingsby – School of Humanities CCANESA / Classics and Ancient History seminar: Elisabeth Slingsby – School of Humanities

CCANESA / Classics and Ancient History seminar: Elisabeth Slingsby

Elisabeth Slingsby | Cambridge University

A Contest of Kings: Julio-Claudian Representations of Late Republican Civil War

Classics and Ancient History/CCANESA Online Seminar


This paper examines the parallels between those who fought in the Roman civil war of 49-45BC and non-Roman sole rulers, which pervade Julio-Claudian literature. Such analogies were not unique to this period. As a youth, Pompey had welcomed comparisons with Alexander the Great, while Caesar’s final years were beset with accusations that he aspired to kingship. That Julio-Claudian writers availed themselves of these pre-existing parallels is by no means surprising. What is striking, I will argue, is that they did so to the exclusion of almost every other comparative model, regardless of their broader views on Caesar, Pompey, or the outcomes of this civil war. This is the case not only with the two principal generals, Caesar and Pompey, but extends to their officers, allies, and institutions of state. Through an examination of the parallels involving behaviour on and off battlefield, I will seek to demonstrate that in a Rome ruled by men descended from and named after Caesar, non-Roman parallels were consistently used to depict the civil war he began as a conflict which tainted all those who took up arms, transforming Romans into barbarians, commanders into kings.



Elisabeth completed her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and Master of Philosophy degrees at the University of Sydney, where she was supervised by Dr Elly Cowan and Associate Prof. Kathryn Welch. She is currently in the third year of her PhD at the University of Cambridge. Elisabeth’s PhD project, supervised by Prof. Mary Beard, examines the parallels between the late Republican civil wars and non-Roman conflicts of various kinds, which are drawn in Julio-Claudian literature.


On Zoom

5 May, 4:00pm

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The Department of Classics and Ancient History is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI).

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May 05 2022


4:00 pm - 5:00 pm



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Classics and Ancient History

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