Nicholas Purcell

Camden Professor of Ancient History and Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford University

Spring 2012 Sather Lectures

Venal Histories: The Character, Limits, and Historical Importance of Buying and Selling in the Ancient World

February 9:
Lecture 1: On the strangeness of buying and selling
Maud Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall, 8 p.m.

February 16:
Lecture 2: Not for sale
370 Dwinelle Hall, 5:30 p.m.

February 23:
Lecture 3: Anatomies of the vendor and the purchaser
370 Dwinelle Hall, 5:30 p.m.

March 1:
Lecture 4: Transactions in space and time
370 Dwinelle Hall, 5:30 p.m.

March 8:
Lecture 5: Constructing the go-between
370 Dwinelle Hall, 5:30 p.m.

March 15:
Lecture 6: Buying people
370 Dwinelle Hall, 5:30 p.m.

N. Purcell

More about Nicholas Purcell and his Sather lectures

The 98th Sather Professor is Nicholas Purcell, who has spent a distinguished career at Oxford University, serving from 1979-2011 as University Lecturer in Ancient History and as a Tutorial Fellow of St. John’s College, before taking up his current position as Camden Professor of Ancient History and as a Fellow of Brasenose College.

Professor Purcell is one of the world’s leading scholars of Roman and ancient Mediterranean history, and is known for taking a broadly based, “ecological” view of his topic, basing his conclusions on a dazzling range of evidence, including that of inscriptions, literary texts, and archeology. Among his many articles are economic and social studies of the urban landscape of Rome; of the relations between town and country; of Roman villas and gardens; of what the Roman diet and culinary habits reveal about the culture at large. His masterful book, The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History (2000), co-written with Peregrine Horden and inspired by the classic work of the “annaliste” historian Fernand Braudel on the Mediterranean world of the 16th century, offers an extraordinarily rich and imaginative intellectual panoply through which the entire Mediterranean basin together with its adjoining regions in ancient and medieval times comes to be seen in terms of the ecological lines of force linking its numerous small localities and micro-economies rather than, as has more often been the case, in terms of its few famous centres such as classical Athens, imperial Rome, or metropolitan Constantinople.

Professor Purcell is a long-standing member of the advisory committees of the Journal of Roman Archeology and of the Mediterranean Historical Review. He serves on the editorial board of the Oxford Journal of Archeology and as a consultant for ancient history to the Oxford English Dictionary. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Toulouse, a fellow of the British School at Rome, and has delivered named or keynote lectures in America, South Africa, Australia, and France as well as Britain. In 1998 he gave the Jerome lectures at the University of Michigan, and in 2010 the Gray Lectures at the University of Cambridge.