The Ronald Syme Lecture 2023

professor david potter

The annual Syme Lecture will be delivered in 2023 by Professor David Potter, University of Michigan. 

The lecture will take place in the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium (LWA). The lecture will also be livestreamed on YouTube here. Please see lecture title and abstract prepared by the speaker below:

Caesar and Gaul: the populist path to dictatorship

Cicero said Caesar followed the via popularis, the populist path.  This is often taken as suggesting that Caesar was inclined towards democratic alternatives to the oligarchy that “lurked behind the façade” of the Republican constitution.  Throughout the Gallic War, Caesar offers consistently negative portrayals of the corrupt oligarchies while being clear that the “common people” cannot govern themselves.  What he models through his description of his command practices is the ideal, efficient society of his army.  The ideal government he offers is better for the average Gaul and implicitly a better style of government for Rome.  The via popularis is not a path to a more democratic state. It is a path to what Caesar proclaims will be a hyper- efficient dictatorship.

All welcome in person and online Wolfson Syme Lecture 2023 - Professor David Potter - YouTube