‘The Elephant in the Room’: Understanding Corruption in Roman Egypt

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Date / time: 2 May, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

The Whitworth Art Gallery

The papyri of Roman Egypt provide a uniquely rich source of evidence for everyday life in a Roman province. Thousands of texts ranging from legal proceedings to private letters document matters both public and private. This lecture explores what papyri tell us of the daily experiences of the inhabitants of Roman Egypt who were at the mercy of corrupt officials and abusive representatives of the state. It asks what form corruption took in the province, what societal factors encouraged it, how private individuals coped, and what anti-corruption initiatives were taken by the Roman state. It also considers how modern sociological and anthropological discourse can improve our understanding of ancient corruption and allows for the development of a nuanced understanding of its effects on society.

Speaker: Professor Colin Adams, University of Liverpool

Colin Adams studied Ancient History at Queen’s University Belfast and took his DPhil at Christ Church, Oxford. After a Teaching and Research Fellowship at St Andrews, he held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship before his appointment to a lectureship at Leicester. He is now Professor of Ancient History at the University of Liverpool. He specialises in and has published widely on the economic and social history of Roman Egypt, the social and political history of the Roman Empire, and ancient geographical knowledge, ancient exploration and travel.

FREE, booking required:


This event includes a reception for attendees after the lecture.

This event will take place in person in partnership with the University of Manchester. If you have any questions about this event please email events@thebritishacademy.ac.uk.

Image: Wiki Commons –  Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license