Dennis Trout, “Embedded Epigrams: Poetic Inscriptions of Ancient Rome” | National Humanities Center


Dennis Trout, “Embedded Epigrams: Poetic Inscriptions of Ancient Rome”

June 19, 2020

After the ancient Roman Empire embraced Christianity under Emperor Constantine in the fourth century A.D., the empire’s culture and politics were significantly transformed. Records of poetic inscriptions found throughout Rome can help us to understand how these public displays both recalled an earlier model of poetic discourse and established new forms of spiritual authority and civic instruction.

In this podcast, Dennis Trout, professor of ancient Mediterranean studies at the University of Missouri, shares insights from his interdisciplinary study of such inscriptions. By considering the way that these epigrams were embedded in the architecture of a city and displayed to an empire in transition, he suggests they go beyond considerations of religion, literature, and culture to illuminate the ways that visual and textual cues were used to send messages to a diverse audience in the ancient world.

Dennis Trout
Dennis Trout, University of Missouri
Dennis Trout received his PhD in ancient history from Duke University and was associate professor of classics at Tufts University before moving to the University of Missouri in 2000. His research focuses upon Late Antiquity and engages material and visual evidence as well as literary sources. He is the author of Paulinus of Nola: Life, Letters, and Poems (University of California Press, 1999) and Damasus of Rome: The Epigraphic Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2015). While a Fellow at the National Humanities Center he will be completing a book titled Monumental Verse, which offers the first comprehensive study of the metrical building inscriptions of late ancient Rome.