Profile: Jerry Toner

I am a Roman historian and Fellow of Churchill College where I am the Director of Studies in Classics. I am an Affiliated Lecturer at the Classics Faculty and I lecture on subjects like Roman popular culture and various aspects of the late Roman empire, such as poverty, sin and what it meant to be a barbarian. My research looks at the Roman world “from below”. Historians have traditionally focused on the Roman elite, partly because they produced the overwhelming majority of our literary sources. But there is a surprising amount of evidence which does survive from lower down the social scale and my work uses this to analyse how ordinary Romans lived. My other research includes looking at the important role that leisure played in popular politics and the ways Classics has been used to create various imagery and stereotypes relating to subordinate groups. I am also interested in ancient ideas of the senses, mental health, and the important role that disasters played in Roman culture. I’ve written several popular books, such as How to Manage Your Slaves, written in the guise of a Roman nobleman, Marcus Sidonius Falx. It tries to understand the horrible ancient institution through the eyes of the Romans themselves, who thought slavery was perfectly normal.

 Dr Jerry Toner, Fellow and Director of Studies at Churchill College