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Nondum Arabes Seresque rogant: Classics Looks East

Kathleen Coleman

Statius, using rogare in an bold elliptical construction, imagines that sooner or later the Arabs and the Chinese will sue for the benefits of Roman rule, a scenario designed to massage Domitian’s imperialist ego (“nondum Arabes Seresque rogant,” Silu. 4.1.42). The reality was undoubtedly somewhat different. Tiridates may have come to Rome to be crowned king of Armenia, but even an emperor as impractical as Nero did not, apparently, dream of colonizing the far East. Trade between Rome and the orient was of mutual benefit; military and ideological conquest was not on the agenda.

Today the ancient Mediterranean world, as recreated in our contemporary classrooms, is once more looking east, towards a mutually satisfying symbiosis. This paper looks at ways in which the ancient Greek and Roman world is starting to be combined with the ancient Far East in our curricula; summarizes recent research comparing Greco-Roman and Far Eastern society; provides some statistics for the status of Greco-Roman studies in China, Korea, and Japan; reviews ways in which institutions in the US and Europe are already contributing to graduate training and faculty research in the Far East; and suggests how and why these links might be strengthened and expanded.

Session/Panel Title:

The Future of Classical Education: A Dialogue

Session/Paper Number

40.3

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