Ancient Journeys and Migrants (CLA3268)

30 credits

Ideas of mass migration are crucial to the understanding of our globally-linked 21st century world. But the phenomenon is not uniquely modern. The ancient world too was born from extensive movement – journeys took heroes, pirates, merchants, courtesans, youths, poetesses, refugees and soldiers among others across seas and mountains. The extensive movements challenge conceptions of a natural tie to the land and a demographically settled world. Using Ancient Italy and Rome we will explore the nature of ancient mobility and attitudes to foreigners in a world without borders by drawing on ancient literature (e.g. Plautus, Catullus, Cicero or Polybius), demography, epigraphy and archaeology (e.g. shipwrecks, burials and tesserae). Was there xenophobia? Not in the comedies of Plautus where foreigners abound. The term ‘migrant’ is simply absent – Why? Boundaries of status rather than of geopolitics were difficult to cross. We will consider how permeable boundaries and multiple fluid identities shaped this ancient society, and look at the many journey stories on the way.