Color photograph of an Asian man wearing a blue shirt and blazer looking at the camera

Christopher Erdman

Arthur Ross Rome Prize
1 settembre 2023–5 luglio 2024
PhD Candidate, Department of Classics, University of California, Santa Barbara
Titolo del progetto
Voting Culture and Political Theater in Late Republican Lawmaking
Descrizione del progetto

My dissertation examines popular participation in lawmaking during the late Republic. Contrary to the traditional view, the ancient evidence suggests that the Roman people were active and eager participants in lawmaking who paid close attention to the content of proposed laws and the behavior of magistrates during voting. I examine three aspects of legislative voting: obstruction by the elite as a form of “political theater,” the intelligibility of proposals to ordinary voters, and the expectations and influence of citizens from non-Roman communities in Italy. My findings so far indicate that Roman voters understood the process of enacting laws in the assembly; they also had expectations based on their ideological predispositions and past experiences as to how voting assemblies were supposed to play out. Magistrates had to conform to those expectations in their public behavior on voting day, while voters actively worked to constrain elite freedom during assemblies.