Presenter: Rachel O'Malley (Mid-candidature review)

Cicero’s claim that the minds of Egyptians were ‘infected with degraded superstitions’ is a familiar criticism. Numerous authors, both Greek and Roman, voiced disapproval for the worship of animals and the peculiar religious beliefs of the Egyptians. That a significant number of Romans might be persuaded to join in such superstitions was a point of contention and a cause for concern for some. The cults of Isis and Serapis, for example, were particularly influential and garnered a significant following in the Roman world. The apparent hostility towards Egyptian religious cults was not universal. Rather, their reception was contextual, depending on time period, political climate and individual circumstances. This seminar aims to establish that the conversations regarding Egyptian religious cults offer a range of lenses from which to view shifting Roman perspectives. Understandings of their own culture, their power and place in the Mediterranean, and the construction of multifaceted social and individual identities were informed by Roman participation in and reception of Egyptian religious cults.

About Classics and Ancient History Seminars

Event details

  • The seminars take place at 4pm, in the Michie Building (09), Room 536
  • Seminars are also on Zoom. Send an email to Duncan Keenan-Jones ( for the link.
  • Upcoming seminars can be found here.
  • Please be aware that we are still operating under Covid-19 regulations during public events. Masks are no longer required at UQ locations - however, UQ strongly encourages mask wearing when physical distancing is not possible. UQ strongly encourages all campus attendees to be up to date with vaccinations. And finally, those who are feeling unwell, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the previous 7 days or have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 7 days, are asked not to attend this seminar.
  • For those attending in person, if you would like to join us for drinks and/or dinner afterwards at UQ’s St. Lucy's from 5:15 pm, please RSVP by email to Duncan Keenan-Jones ( by 9am on the day of the seminar.
  • Please also contact Duncan Keenan-Jones should you have questions about the event.

The Friends of Antiquity, an alumni organisation of the University, runs its own series of public lectures, which take place on Sunday afternoons. The Friends’ program for can be found at