My DPhil project examines the cultural history of music in ancient Rome, from the conquest of Greece in the 2nd century BC to the fall of Nero in 68 AD. The project focuses on the complex relationship between music, spectacle and society, as revealed through literary texts and material culture. I am particularly interested in how music figures in Roman discourses of morality, philosophy, and politics, and how these discourses are shaped by the ‘reality’ of musical performance in public and private settings. By submitting the evidence to a rigorous contextual analysis, I hope to overturn the pre-existing notion of the Romans as passive musical consumers with little interest in original musicological thought. My thesis suggests that music played a far more important role in the Roman experience and imagination than is usually assumed.