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Ancient historian CLAUDIA TIERSCH is interested in the political communication in the Late Roman Republic and its cultural implications. More specifically, she has investigated the question of how to understand the political aims of the political groups active at that time – the populares and the optimates – and analyzed their methods of addressing their adherents. In this video, she describes her research by reference to the term ‘liberty’ and how different groups of the Roman people would have understood and interpreted the term. Applying theories of communication and considering the cultural background of each individual group, she found that the crisis of the Roman Republic was also a crisis of communication. The Roman Senate lost its standing because it failed to communicate with the Roman people on the same understanding of terms and problems.


Claudia Tiersch is Professor of Ancient History at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Previous affiliations include the universities of Dresden and Munich as well as the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. Her research is focused, among other topics, on the history of the ancient city, political communication and church and state in late antiquity.


Humboldt University of Berlin (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

In 1810, Wilhelm von Humboldt’s idea of founding a new type of university became a reality. The combination of teaching and research, academic freedom and the comprehensive education of students was not only a model for the Prussian university but for the world as well. And a new era for universities and academic research began. Each year, over 6,000 people decide to study at Humboldt-Universität located in the heart of Berlin. There are few other places where you can choose from 190 degree programmes, from Agricultural Science to Asian Studies. The university is first and foremost dedicated to fundamental research. Humboldt-Universität’s strengths in particular are in research on antiquity, history, philosophy, and quantitative economics as well as the life sciences, especially theoretical biology, neurology and immunology. It also has strengths in mathematics, material and optical sciences, and climate and sustainability research. These key strengths are shaped by twelve collaborative research areas, nine graduate research clusters and eleven interdisciplinary centres. Three integrated research institutes strongly connect and coordinate different research areas while developing focused topics for the future. (Source: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
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Original publication

Political Communication in the Late Roman Republic: Semantic Battles Between Optimates and Populares?

Claudia Tiersch
People, Politics and res publica. Strategy and Ideology in Republican Rome
Published in 2017