Associate Professor Lea Beness (Macquarie University) and Associate Professor Tom Hillard (Macquarie University) ‘“Attica capta Atticum cepit”: Titus Pomponius Atticus in Athens’

When C. Julius Caesar (Octavianus) entered Alexandria on August 1st 30 BC, the Alexandrians were literally prostrate with fear. The general announced, however, that they were freed from retribution because of his respect for Alexander the Great (the city’s founder), for the grandness of the city itself, and for his friend, the Alexandrian philosopher, Areios Didymos (Plut. Ant. 80; Mor. 207B; Dio 51.16.4). This paper begins by exploring the influence exercised by philosophers on the Roman elite in the Late Republic. We shall then turn to the lengthy sojourn in Athens of Cicero’s intimate friend, Atticus, from 84 to 65, reflecting on the parlous state of the city in the post-Mithridatic and post-Sullan era, the nature of Atticus’s civic munificence and the impact of Athenian intellectual life on Atticus himself. In particular, the paper will highlight the close attachment of Atticus and Phaidros Lysiadou, onetime head of the Epicurean Garden in Athens, a topic left unelaborated by Cornelius Nepos in his Life of Atticus, a unique biography of a non-senatorial individual in that period. It will close by examining the statuary erected in Atticus’s honour, after he had departed, and a crux at Nep. Att. 3.2.

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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