Christopher Erdman

Graduate Student
Roman Republican history; Roman imperialism; Latin & Greek epigraphy; Roman law; Chinese-Mediterranean comparative history
HSSB 4062
Curriculum Vitae:


My research examines the state institutions and political culture of the Roman Republic, especially in the post-Gracchan period. I argue that popular participation was a meaningful and fundamentally important element of the Republic’s institutions that constrained elite behavior within acceptable bounds, and that the Roman people were active and interested agents in Roman politics. My dissertation, titled “Voting Culture and Political Theater in Late Republican Lawmaking,” investigates legislative voting during the Republic and challenges the common view that Roman voters did not understand the laws that they were being asked to ratify, and that consequently they were largely apathetic, passive participants in the lawmaking process. This dissertation project draws not only on the ancient texts, but also epigraphic sources, post-colonial theory, and modern political science to help reconstruct how the ordinary Roman voter understood the business of the assembly, and what he believed his role in public lawmaking was.

I completed a BA in Classics (magna cum laude) at Cornell University in 2017, with an honors thesis entitled “Clodius and the Dilectus Servorum: P. Clodius Pulcher’s Role in the Development of Organized Political Violence in the Late Roman Republic,” which challenged the orthodox position that P. Clodius Pulcher’s tribunate represented an unusually violent period in Republican politics. During the 2022-2023 academic year I was one of the UCSB Interdisciplinary Humanities Center Dissertation Fellows, and during the Winter term I conducted research for my dissertation in Munich as the Jacobi Student at the Kommission für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. During the 2023-2024 academic year I am finishing my dissertation from Rome as the Arthur Ross Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. I will defend my dissertation in Spring 2024.



“The ‘Ballot Questions’ of Roman Republican Legislative Assemblies.” (Forthcoming, Historia)


“Epitaph for Two Sisters.” (Forthcoming, Journal of Epigraphic Studies)

Conference Presentations & Lectures

“Discussione del libro di Robert Morstein-Marx: Julius Caesar and the Roman People.” Panel discussant, Università degli Studi Roma Tre, March 21.

“Playing the Victim: Political Theater and Obstructionism in Republican Lawmaking.” Given at Washington University: Saint Louis, MO, February 5, 2024.

“Playing the Victim: Political Theater and Obstructionism in Republican Lawmaking.” Given at the University of Washington: Seattle, WA, January 25, 2024.

“Political Theater and Obstructionism in Republican Lawmaking.” Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Classical Studies: Chicago, IL, January 4-7, 2024.

“The Appearance of Defeat: The Political Theater of Obstructing Late Republican Legislation.” Given at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, Charles L. Babcock Lecture: Rome,
Italy, November 29, 2023.

“‘Ballot Questions’ and Voter Comprehension in the Late Republic.” Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Ancient Historians: Tallahassee, FL, April 20-22.

“The ‘Ballot Questions’ of the Roman Republic.” Given at the Institut für Geschichte, TU Dresden: Dresden, Germany, February 27, 2023.

“Italian Lawmaking Cultures Before the Social War.” Given at the Kommission für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Munich, Germany, February 15, 2023.

“‘Would You Like, and Would You Order?’: The ‘Ballot Questions’ of the Roman Republic.” Given at Bates College: Lewiston, ME, January 26, 2023.

“Letters of the Law: Inscriptions and the Experience of the Roman Voter.” Presentation at the Annual Meeting for the Society for Classical Studies: New Orleans, LA, January 5-8, 2023.

“How to Beat a Veto: Political Theater and Popular Pressure in Late-Republican Assemblies.” Given at UC Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara, CA, November 20, 2020.