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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Security and the caring leader in Vergil’s Aeneid and Roman Imperial Ideology

13th February 2019, 17:30 to 18:30, Lindisfarne Centre, St Aidans College, Professor Michèle Lowrie (University of Chicago)


Between the time of Cicero and the early Imperial period, the Latin securitas shifted from meaning “peace of mind” in a strictly psychological sense to something approaching our modern “national security” when it becomes an attribute of the Roman Empire. This lecture explores how this shift affected changing conceptions of leadership at the transition from Republic to Empire. Etymologically, securitas negates cura, care in the sense of both worry and tending, but paradoxically, tending is needed to assuage worry, so the word undoes itself from within. Vergil speaks to anxieties about leadership during the Augustan period through Dido and Aeneas, models of caring leaders who either destroy themselves or set their states on a precarious foundation. The ambivalence about care and security expressed in the Aeneid is formative for later Imperial ideology, which enshrines the caring emperor as the center of power, but also holds him accountable for the Empire’s security under the threat of assassination.

This lecture is free and open to all.

Details about Professor Michèle Lowrie

Directions to Lindisfarne Centre, St Aidan's College

Map - St Aidan's College is denoted as building No. 2

Contact for more information about this event.