The Once and Future Kings Conference

The international conference, “The Once and Future Kings: Roman Emperors and Western Political Culture from Antiquity to the Present”, will be held the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia), from Wednesday July 5 – Friday July 7, 2017. The conference will be hosted by the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry and convened by Dr Caillan Davenport and Dr Shushma Malik.

The conference will feature as keynote speakers Professor Rhiannon Ash (Oxford), who will be the 2017 RD Milns Visiting Professor at the University of Queensland, Professor David Scourfield (Maynooth University), and Dr Penelope Goodman (Leeds).

The conference will open on the evening of Wednesday 5 July with a public lecture by Professor Ash. This will followed by two full days of papers, including lectures by Professor Scourfield and Dr Goodman, and a conference dinner at Saint Lucy Caffé e Cucina on the evening of Thursday 6 July. On Saturday 8 July there will be a special excursion for delegates to the Queensland Museum’s ‘Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum’ exhibition (limited to 25 guests).

The conference convenors are grateful for financial support provided by the R. D. Milns Perpetual Endowment Fund and the Australasian Society for Classical Studies.

Please register as soon as possible, as registration will close on Tuesday 31 May. We look forward to welcoming you to Brisbane in July!

Roman emperors play a significant role in contemporary political discourse, with rulers such as Augustus, Caligula, Nero, and Marcus Aurelius regularly cited as positive or negative models in newspaper editorials, stump speeches, and Twitter. Our understanding of these emperors as paradigms of power has been shaped by centuries of intellectual debate from Tacitus and Seneca to Erasmus and Machiavelli.

The conference aims to answer the question: ‘How have literary and artistic representations of Roman emperors been manipulated for political purposes throughout history?’ This overall question is divided into two areas:

  1. Roman emperors within a specifically Roman political context, from Augustus to the fall of Constantinople in A.D. 1453;
  2. Roman emperors in the western medieval world and beyond.

The conference aims to connect these two aspects as part of a larger study of the process of reception, which occurred across temporal, spatial, and social boundaries in antiquity and continues to take place up to the present day.


18.00 – 20.30: Opening Session and Keynote Lecture 1

This is a free event open to members of the general public. Please RSVP by Friday, 30 June using the online form. Registered conference delegates are not required to RSVP.

Venue: Room 212, Sir Llew Edwards Building (no. 14), University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus

18.00 – 18.15:

Welcome to the University of Queensland and ‘The Once and Future Kings Conference’.

  • Professor Alastair Blanshard (Paul Eliadis Professor of Classics and Ancient History and Acting Head of the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry)
  • Dr Shushma Malik (University of Queensland; conference co-convenor)
  • Dr Caillan Davenport (Macquarie University; conference co-convenor)

18.15 – 19.15: Keynote Lecture 1 – Professor Rhiannon Ash (University of Oxford; R.D. Milns Visiting Professor 2017), ‘Emperors in Space: Proxemics and the Portrayal of the Princeps’

19.15 – 20.00: Wine Reception in the Terrace Room, Sir Llew Edwards Building

20.30: Informal Dinner at a local restaurant (at delegates’ own expense)


Conference Sessions: Level 2, Michie Building (no. 9), University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus

Registration: Room 210, Michie Building

Presentations and Keynotes: Room 211, Michie Building

Teas and Lunches: Level 2 Foyer, Michie Building

09.00 – 9.30: Registration and Arrival Tea/Coffee

Session 1: The Legacy of Augustus

09.30 – 10.30: Keynote Lecture 2 – Dr Penelope Goodman (Leeds), ‘Retrospective parentage: Augustus as a “father of Europe”’

10.30 – 11.00: Morning Tea

Session 2: Emperors in the Principate (I)

11.00 – 11.45: Paper 1 – Dr Eleanor Cowan (Sydney), ‘Inventing Augustus: the representation of Augustus under the Julio-Claudians’

11.45 – 12.30: Paper 2 – Dr Gwynaeth McIntyre (Otago), ‘From gilded age to golden age: Suetonius’ Domitian and the purpose of De Vita Caesarum

12.30 – 13.30: Lunch

Session 3: Emperors in the Principate (II)

13.30 – 14.15: Paper 3 – Dr Caillan Davenport (Macquarie), ‘The materiality of Roman emperors’

14.15 – 15.00: Paper 4 – Dr Janette McWilliam (Queensland), ‘Shaping paradigms of power: the role of imperial children in the early empire’

15.00 – 15.30: Afternoon Tea

Session 4: Emperors in Byzantium

15.30 – 16.15: Paper 5 – Dr Meaghan McEvoy (Macquarie), ‘Educating Theodosius II: Theodosian child-emperors and manipulation of the imperial image in the fifth century A.D.’

16.15 – 17.00: Paper 6 – Mr Ryan Strickler (Macquarie), ‘Emperor or Antichrist? Portrayals of Roman emperors in seventh-century Byzantine apocalyptic discourse’

17.00 – 18.15: Break

Session 5: Emperors and Fiction

18.15 – 19.15: Keynote Lecture 3 – Professor David Scourfield (Maynooth, Ireland), 'Thornton Wilder’s Ides of March, Gore Vidal’s Julian, and John Williams’ Augustus’

19.30 – 22.00: Conference Dinner at Saint Lucy Caffé e Cucina, University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus


9.30-10.00: Arrival Tea/Coffee

Session 6: Emperors in the Renaissance

10.00 – 10.45: Paper 7 – Associate Professor Benedetto Fontana (CUNY) [via Skype], ‘Machiavelli and the military: the people and the army under the principate’

10.45 – 11.30: Paper 8 – Ms Frances Muecke (Sydney), ‘Biondo Flavio on the Roman emperors: periodization, sources and chronicle’

11.30 – 12.00: Morning Tea

Session 7: Emperors from the Enlightenment to the Nineteenth Century

12.00 – 12.45: Paper 9 – Professor Graham Maddox (UNE), ‘Justinian, neo-Roman liberty and the western republican tradition’

12.45 – 13.30: Paper 10 – Dr Shelley Hales (Bristol), ‘Roman emperors in nineteenth-century London: the Crystal Palace’

Lunch: 13.30-14.30

Session 8: Emperors on the Silver Screen

14.30 – 15.15: Paper 11 – Associate Professor Tom Stevenson (Queensland), ‘Julius Caesar in film’

15.15 – 16.00: Paper 12 – Professor Arthur Pomeroy (VUW), ‘Sympathy for the devil? The depiction of Nero on screen’

16.00 – 16.30: Afternoon Tea

Closing Roundtable Discussion

16.30 – 17.15: Chairs – Dr Caillan Davenport (Macquarie) and Dr Shushma Malik (Queensland)

19.00: Informal Dinner at a local restaurant (at delegates’ own expense)


10.45: Meet at the Queensland Museum front entrance on the corner of Grey and Melbourne Streets, South Brisbane for the ‘Gladiators’ exhibition. Please be prompt, as this exhibition has timed entry and we need to enter as a group.

11.00: ‘Gladiators’ exhibition entrance time (for ticketholders).

Professor Rhiannon Ash (University of Oxford)

Professor Rhiannon Ash

Rhiannon Ash is Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Merton College and Professor of Roman Historiography in the University of Oxford. She is an internationally-renowned expert on the historian Cornelius Tacitus and Latin prose literature of the principate. Her books include Ordering Anarchy: Armies and Leaders in Tacitus’ Histories (London and Ann Arbor, 1999), Tacitus: Histories II (Cambridge, 2007), and Oxford Readings in Tacitus (Oxford 2012). She has revised and updated Kenneth Wellesley’s translation of Tacitus: The Histories (London, 2009) for Penguin Classics, co-written Fifty Key Classical Authors (London 2002) with Professor Alison Sharrock, and co-edited Fame and Infamy: Essays for Christopher Pelling on Characterization in Greek and Roman Biography and Historiography (Oxford 2015) with Professor Judith Mossman and Professor Frances Titchener. Professor Ash is also the author of numerous scholarly articles and book chapters on authors such as Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Josephus, and Statius. In July 2017, Professor Ash is the R. D. Milns Visiting Professor at the University of Queensland.


Professor David Scourfield (Maynooth University)

Professor David Scourfield

David Scourfield is Professor and Chair of Ancient Classics at Maynooth University. He is leading authority on Greek and Latin literature in Late Antiquity and in the field of Classical Reception. Professor Scourfield is the author of Consoling Heliodorus: A Commentary on Jerome, Letter 60 (Oxford, 1993) and editor of Texts and Culture in Late Antiquity: Inheritance, Authority, and Change (Swansea, 2007). His research covers authors as diverse as Jerome, Cyprian, and Euripides, as well as the reception of Classics in South Africa and the novels of E. M. Forster. Professor Scourfield has served as editor of Classical Review and Chair of the Council of the UK Classical Association.




Dr Penelope Goodman (University of Leeds)

Dr Penelope Goodman

Penelope Goodman is Lecturer in Classics at the University of Leeds. Her research has made a profound impact in areas as diverse as Roman geography and urbanism and Classical reception in science fiction. Dr Goodman is the author of The Roman City and its Periphery: From Rome to Gaul (London, 2007), and co-editor of Animating Antiquity: Harryhausen and the Classical Tradition (Open University, 2013), with Dr Steven Green. She has published articles and book chapters on Roman artisans, temple architecture, and urban peripheries and boundaries in the Roman world. Dr Goodman is the principal investigator of the ‘Commemorating Augustus’ project, established to investigate the significance of Augustus in world history on the two thousandth anniversary of his death in 2014.


The cost of registration includes admission to all conference sessions, the conference pack, as well as tea and coffee on arrival, and morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea on both Thursday 6 July and Friday 7 July.

  • Full registration: $250 per person
  • Student/unwaged registration: $165 per person

To register and pay for the conference, please visit the: online registration page.

All payments must be made through this web site. We cannot accept cheques or cash in advance or on the day. Please register as soon as possible, as registration will close on Tuesday 31 May.

Conference dinner

The dinner will be held at Saint Lucy Caffé e Cucina at the University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus from 19.30 on Thursday 6 July. The cost includes shared starters, a main course, dessert, tea or coffee, as well as a selection of wines, beers, soft drinks and fruit juices for three hours.

  • $90 per person

Queensland Museum ‘Gladiators’ Exhibition Visit

We are pleased to offer an excursion for a limited number of delegates to the Queensland Museum’s ‘Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum’ exhibition at a special discounted price. This offer is only available to 25 delegates on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • $15 per person

There is a wide range of accommodation available to delegates either at the University of Queensland St Lucia Campus, in the nearby suburb of Toowong, or in Brisbane City itself. The options below are listed only as suggestions: please contact the accommodation providers directly for prices and bookings.

The University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus

King’s College

St. John’s College

The Women’s College

(This is available to both men and women)


Toowong is a short 10-minute bus ride away from the University of Queensland. It has a large shopping centre with many cafes and restaurants.

Toowong Villas, 9 Ascog Terrace, Toowong

Jephson Hotel, 63 Jephson Street, Toowong

Toowong Central Motel Apartments, 38 Jephson Street, Toowong

St Lucia Gardens, 2 Gailey Road, St Lucia

Brisbane City

There is a wide range of accommodation in the city to suit all budgets. Please consult the Visit Brisbane web site.

The conference is being held at the University of Queensland St Lucia Campus. For the conference venues, please see the PDF map.

The campus is accessible by bus and ferry services.

The 412 bus from Brisbane City, via Toowong, stops at Chancellors’ Place outside the Michie Building, the venue for most conference sessions.

The 66 bus from Brisbane City, via South Brisbane, stops at the UQ Lakes bus terminal, a short 10-minute walk away from the Great Court.

The City Cat Ferry stops at the UQ St Lucia Terminal, also a short 10-minute walk away from the Great Court.

For a full list of transport options, see the UQ Transport web site. The TransLink web site provides a journey planner and list of bus, train, and ferry services in Brisbane.

For any questions and queries about the conference, please contact the convenors, Dr Caillan Davenport ( and Dr Shushma Malik (