MPhil Confirmation Seminar.
Ancient authors unanimously state that the sumptuary laws were designed to curb the rising tide of luxuria in Rome. Modern scholars have argued otherwise. Their arguments vary from the preservation of elite patrimony, to a fear of ambitio and ambitus, and to attempts to prevent upward social mobility by a rising equestrian class. The private motivations of the legislators are unrecoverable, but the importance of morality requires renewed emphasis. Thus it is argued that the legislators aimed to correct what was perceived to be declining martial virtus and rising governmental malpractice. Study of the laws and other sources of evidence for dining immorality will reveal that the sumptuary laws provide a unique window into the increasingly problematized place of the convivium in Roman society of the second century BCE.