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John Bodel

W. Duncan MacMillan II Professor of Classics and Professor of History:
MacFarlane House 204
Phone: 401-863-3815
Phone 2: 401-863-1267

John Bodel studies ancient Roman social, economic, and cultural history and Latin literature, especially of the empire. Much of his research involves inscriptions, and he has special interests in Roman religion, slavery, funerals and burial customs, ancient writing systems, the editing of Latin epigraphic and literary texts, and Latin prose authors. Since 1995, he has directed the U.S. Epigraphy Project, the purpose of which is to gather information about Greek and Latin inscriptions in the USA.


John Bodel was born and raised in Lakeville, Connecticut. Before coming to Brown in 2003, he taught for several years at Harvard and Rutgers. At Brown he currently serves as Co-Director and Concentration Advisor of the Program in Early Cultures.


He works mainly on Latin epigraphy and literature, Roman social history and religion, and ancient slavery.

Current and forthcoming work focuses on tomb gardens, Roman epigraphy and literacy, slave names, the publication of Pliny's letters, muliones and the organization of Roman land transport, the life and death of ancient Roman cemeteries, status dissonance and status dissidents in the equestrian order, death and 'social death' in ancient Rome (on Roman perceptions of the condition of slavery), and the popular reception of élite taste and imperial ideology at Pompeii and Herculaneum.

At the U.S. Epigraphy Project Bodel oversees development of an XML-based search engine and photographic archive of the 3,500 ancient Greek and Latin inscriptions cataloged in the online database and participates with an international team of epigraphists in developing a set of guidelines and semantic markup tools for the editing and publication of inscriptions in digital form (EpiDoc).


B.A, Classics, Princeton University, 1978, M.A., Classical Philology, University of Michigan, 1979, Ph.D., Classical Philology, University of Michigan, 1984


Fellow, American Academy in Rome, 1983
National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship, 1993
Bellagio Center, Como, The Rockefeller Foundation, August 2002
Lucy Shoe Meritt Resident in Ancient Studies, American Academy in Rome, spring 2006
Salomon Research Award, Brown University, 2008
Loeb Classical Library Foundation Fellowship, 2010
Visiting Fellow, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick, 2012


American Philological Association
Archaeological Institute of America
Association Internationale d'Épigraphie Grecque e Latine
American Society of Greek and Latin Epigraphy
Association of Ancient Historians
The Roman Society (UK)


Bodel teaches undergraduate courses in Latin language and literature, Roman history and religion, ancient slavery, and Pompeii, and graduate seminars on Latin epigraphy, social space at Pompeii, Roman slavery, "The Book" (on the sociology of reading and the influence of ancient publication practices on Roman literary forms), and on his favorite Latin authors: Apuleius, Petronius, Pliny, Tacitus, and Varro.

Funded Research

1993 - National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship for University Teachers ($30,000)
1995-2002 - Rutgers University, Research Council. U.S. Epigraphy Project ($10,000 per year)
1996-1997 - Magie Publications Fund Committee, Princeton University. U.S. Epigraphy Project ($3,000)
2004-2005 - Scholarly Technology Group Faculty Grant, Brown University. U.S. Epigraphy Project ($30,000)
2008-2009 - Salomon Faculty Research Award, Brown University. Center of Digital Epigraphy (CoDE) ($19,000)
2010 - Loeb Classical Library Foundation Fellowship ($35,000)
2012-2014 - Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar (with S. Alcock and S. Houston). Animal Magnetism. The Emotional Ecology of Animals and Humans ($175,000)
2014-2016 - French American Cultural Exchange (FACE), Partner University Fund (with M. Brunet). Visible Words: Research and Training in Digital Contextual Epigraphy ($300,000)

Web Links

Curriculum Vitae