Classical & Archaeological Studies

Dunstan Lowe on real monsters in Ancient Rome

6 October 2017

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Dr Dunstan Lowe, Lecturer in Latin Literature in the Department of Classical & Archaeological Studies, will be giving a talk entitled ‘Real Monsters in Ancient Rome’ on Tuesday 17 October 2017. His talk is part of an Institute of Classical Studies event asking  ‘Why Do We Need Monsters?’, to be held in Senate House at the University of London.

Strange and monstrous creatures were well known in ancient myth. But there are also fascinating eyewitness reports from Roman times, and not just from remote places but even in the city of Rome itself.

People saw giant bones of ancient beasts and heroes, a stuffed mer-man, and a centaur pickled in honey. There were also living creatures that shocked and fascinated: wild crocodiles and elephants, and exotic pets such as eels and baboons. There were even humans with rare physical peculiarities, who were put together with other 'monsters' in a way that seems shocking to the modern world.

The rich and powerful, including emperors, sought out 'real monsters' for public enjoyment, as attractions, and also for personal enjoyment, as possessions. Some called it disgraceful, but the evidence is undeniable: the ancient Romans were as fascinated by monsters as we are.

The event is open to all but booking is required. More information is available here:

Classical & Archaeological Studies, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

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Last Updated: 19/12/2013