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Roman Mobilities: Movement of persons, animals, objects, and ideas in the ancient Roman world

Explore ancient Roman culture and knowledge from the point of view of mobility and movement through space and time, together with issues of cultural identity, geographic circulation, and social mobility.

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CIVIS focus area
Society, culture, heritage
Open to
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
  • Phd
Field of studies
  • Art, Design and Media
  • Social Science and humanities
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
3 February - 31 March 2023

The aim of this programme is to offer a postgraduate seminar on ancient Roman culture through the broad notion of “mobility” as a way to critically reflect on specific problems in a multidisciplinary environment. Available to senior BA students (final year of study), and to MA and PhD students, the programme seeks to organise a series of weekly online lectures (February 3, 2023-March 17, 2023), followed by a five-day encounter at the Sapienza University in Rome.

Considering the ancient Roman cultural context as a reference point (ca. 7th century BCE – 4th century CE), a group of specialists in Classical Studies, Ancient History, Archaeology, Philosophy, Linguistics, Latin Philology, Literature, Religion, and Performing Arts propose to explore issues of cultural identity, geographic circulation, and social mobility in an array of evidence and media.

Ultimately, the main goal of this programme is to provide a space of critical thinking to students coming from different countries and backgrounds and to generate an ongoing debate about the timeliness of studying ancient cultural discourses in the present moment. By focusing on the extremely mobile nature of ancient Rome in terms of space and time, we will question traditional claims about the legacy of Roman imperialism in the creation of European values and propose more innovative methods to tackle this question.

Main topics addressed

  • Investigation of Rome’s relationship to the East and West
  • The spread of a centralising idea of “Rome”
  • The ambivalent means of cultural appropriation, exchange, and dominance in Roman processes of self-definition, especially when confronted to Greece and other ancient Mediterranean communities, such as the Jews.
  • The expression of movement in language
  • The portability of rites
  • The role of translation in the transmission of philosophical and scientific ideas
  • The cultural transference of literary, rhetorical, and artistic motifs
  • The performative power of the moving body
  • The ethical aspects of travels
  • The status of citizens who are subject to relegation and exile
  • The dynamics of movement versus inertia in the realm of ancient religion, including the imperial culture

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able:

  • To demonstrate in-depth knowledge of ancient Roman culture and society from synchronic and diachronic perspectives.
  • To apply multi-disciplinary concepts in the Humanities to draw conclusions on the cultural idea of ‘mobility’.
  • To critically discuss aspects of identity and cultural status in ancient Rome.
  • To identify the value of case studies in approaching broader topics.
  • To incorporate first-hand exploration of visual and material culture.
  • To draw critical parallels between ancient and modern cultures.
  • To develop collaborative research with peers from other nationalities and fields of study.
  • To compose an outreach project about the topic to be addressed to non-academic audiences.
  • To communicate orally to refine individual and group conclusions relating to the topics of the course.
Dates: 3 February - 31 March 2023 Total workload: 125 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 5
Location: Rome, Italy Language: English (B2) 

Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university. 

Physical mobility

The in-person module will take place in Rome, from 27 to 31 March 2023. Only people receiving their funds will be able to use them for this purpose. Students who cannot come to Sapienza or have to withdraw this part will have the possibility to earn their credits by completing an online parallel task.

As part of this week, students will take part in a full-immersive workshop every day, coordinated by the same instructors of the online seminar, but focused on specific case studies that relate to their topics. These experiences will be called ‘teaching on the move’ and will take place through different sites and venues around or outside the city Rome, of particular relevance to the programme’s aims and methodologies. These spots include:

  • The Forum Romanum.
  • The archaeological excavations on the Palatine hill.
  • The site of Ostia Antica, Rome's ancient harbour (including lunch and transportation).
  • The Roman National Museum - Palazzo Massimo and Terme di Diocleziano.
  • The Via Appia.

In addition, students will have three allotted hours every day to work in preparation for their final group project, which will be presented in a posters’ session on Friday, March 31 (this final session will be also reproduced as a virtual gallery of the programme’s results). Each of these working groups will be mentored by one of the instructors every day.

Virtual part

The virtual module will take place every Friday on the Microsoft Teams platform, which is used in most of the universities of our network and allows us to invite guest participants and speakers. From the pedagogical point of view, the online part of the programme will be a theoretical introduction to each of the topics we intend to address.

These lectures will take place every Friday for 3:30 hours from 3 February to 17 March 2023 (seven weeks all together), and will be structured as monographic sessions, each led by two of the lecturers who are part of the team. Every week, two instructors will act as coordinators of the course, introducing the presenters, and helping to facilitate the students’ discussions. This will ensure that the course follows a fluid and coherent progression.

Every online lecture will be devoted to a specific topic that relates to the notion of Roman "mobility" and will include a theoretical introduction to the critical methodologies selected by the instructor. Instructors will upload their materials and readings in advance to the Moodle site, so they can be read in advance.

A further session will be devoted to the creation of working groups for the in-person in Rome. These groups must integrate individuals from different universities and academic backgrounds and will be led by one of the ten instructors, who will be acting as counsellors. The groups will, then, identify a topic for closer study, and develop a small outreach project to be displayed in a poster at the end of the programme in Rome.

At the end of the final session, students will engage in a broader conclusive discussion in order to summarise and highlight the most important aspects discussed throughout. As part of the assessment, each student will have to collect a portfolio, including a personal reflection of the course (ca. 3000 words).


3 February 2023

  • Course introduction, followed by lectures.
  • Luis Unceta Gómez (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid): “Mobility in Latin”; Sabine Luciani (Aix-Marseille Université): “Rome’s relationship to Greece through the case of Philosophy”.

10 February 2023

  • Lectures.
  • Matthew Fox (University of Glasgow): “Appropriation of Greek educational standards at Rome in the 1st century”. Zoa Alonso Fernández (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid): “The moving body and Roman dance. A study on performativity”.

17 February 2023

  • Lectures.
  • Katell Berthelot (Aix-Marseille Université): “Jewish mobilities in the Roman Empire”. Florica Mihuț (University of Bucharest): “Exile, social mobility, and the exclusion from the citizen body in ancient Rome”.

24 February 2023

  • Lectures.
  • Alexandra Lițu (University of Bucharest): “Mobility versus inertia in the realm of religion and religious practice on the edges of the Empire”. Giorgio Ferri (Sapienza Università di Roma): “Ritual movements in Roman Religion”.

3 March 2023

  • Lectures.
  • Valentin Bottez (University of Bucharest): “The promotion of imperial cult as a catalyst of cultural relations”; Pedro Duarte (Aix-Marseille Université): “Rome's discovery of Western Europe”.

10 March 2023

  • Closing remarks. Interactive class for the creation of working groups.

17 March 2023

  • Students’ conclusive discussion to summarise and highlight the most important aspects discussed throughout.

There is a total of 25 hours of online courses.

After the conclusion of the online sessions, which will be recorded every week, students will present an individual portfolio, based on their engagement with the topics (ca. 3000 words), including a personal reflection of the course. The portfolios will be distributed among the ten instructors for final assessment. 


This CIVIS course is open to Master's & PhD students from the CIVIS member universities interested in the following field of studies: Classics, Archaeology, Literature, Philology, Art History, Anthropology, History of religions, Philosophy, Linguistics, History. Senior undergraduate students (final BA students) are also eligible.

A B2 level of English is required.

Elementary Latin is desirable.

Application process

Send your application by filling in the online application form by 30 November 2022 with the following documents:

  • CV
  • Motivation letter


a) Individual work:

  • Written portfolio about the online lectures, plus general reflection on the elaborated notions, ca. 3000 words (30% of the course’s grade). To be distributed among selected instructors for assessment.
  • Active participation in class, including debates, questions, and discussions (10% of the course’s grade).

To be assessed weekly by each instructor and moderators.

b) Group work:

  • Research and design of a collaborative poster (50% of the course’s grade). To be assessed by each of the groups ‘counsellors.’
  • Oral presentation of the poster (10% of the course’s grade). To be assessed by all instructors.

Blended Intensive Programme

This CIVIS course is a Blended Intensive Programme (BIP): a new format of Erasmus+ mobility which combines online teaching with a short trip to another campus to learn alongside students and professors across Europe. Click here to learn more about CIVIS BIPs.

GDPR Consent

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  • Zoa Alonso Fernández (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
  • Katell Berthelot (Aix-Marseille Université)
  • Valentin Bottez (University of Bucharest)
  • Pedro Duarte (Aix-Marseille Université)
  • Giorgio Ferri (Sapienza Università di Roma)
  • Matthew Fox (University of Glasgow)
  • Alexandrina Victoria Litu Girboviceanu (University of Bucharest)
  • Sabine Luciani (Aix-Marseille Université)
  • Florica Mihuț (University of Bucharest) 
  • Luis Unceta Gómez (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)