Senior Fellow: April 2016–August 2016
Research Project: Public Discourse About ‘What One Deserves’ in the Roman Imperial Period
The current research of Marietta Horster is part of a larger project (monograph and articles) concerning fairness in ancient societies: ‘Distributive Justice and Equity in Greek and Roman Societies’. During her stay at the Centre, she will focus on narrative traditions in the Roman Imperial period. Accordingly she will investigate the intellectual culture of the Roman world and its discussion of the necessity, organisation, quality and consequences of distributive justice in society from an ideological point of view. The practical aspect of the project resides in the enquiry into the behavioral norms and patterns of various groups in the Roman world. Aristotle explored the nature of particularistic justice which pertained to just distribution and retribution in accordance with merit. The Aristotelian claim is that only reason should guide judgements on equitable treatment. The subject ‘distributional justice’, an antique inquiry into the understanding of ‘what one deserves’, focuses on the negotiation processes at various levels of society. These can be adequate participation in decision-making, adequate access to resources and markets, adequate insights into the workings of government and the adequate opportunity to participate and stimulate (or even instigate) changes in societal ideology and cultural practices. Various verbal and visual expressions of Eastern Mediterranean cultures within the Roman Empire thus present us with subtle but remarkable traces of scepticism. However, these sceptical tendencies hardly ever challenge the Roman entitlement to rule.
Marietta Horster is professor of Ancient history at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.