Joseph-Noel Sylvestre: Locusta testing in Nero\'s presence the poison prepared for Britannicus
Forgan Smith (building 1), The University of Queensland, St Lucia
Venue: Forgan Smith (building 1), The University of Queensland, St Lucia.

Non-members are welcome. A donation of $10 per person includes entry in the lucky door prize and afternoon tea.

'The Blood of Titans': Poisons and Poisoners in the Roman World

Eliminating people in the ancient world could be big business, and fascinating glimpses of the infrastructure of poisons and poisoners can be seen in many ancient texts. This talk will take us into the grimy underbelly of the Roman world by shining the spotlight onto the murkier corners of politics and power struggles where poison could offer a helping hand to the unscrupulous. I will pick out and discuss various clusters of examples from the 'death-cycle' of poisoning, looking at some individual sources and types of poison (e.g. the horned toad; aconite), considering some of the devious and fiendish ways in which poisons were administered to unsuspecting victims, illuminating the various notorious 'personnel' of poisoning, and finally giving a snapshot of the lexical sphere of Latin where metaphors of poisoning proliferate in surprising places. Poisoning is a grimly rich topic in ancient texts, as this talk will demonstrate.

Professor Ash is Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Merton College and Professor of Roman Historiography in the University of Oxford. She is an internationally renowned expert on the historian C. Tacitus and Latin prose literature of the principate. Her books include Ordering Anarchy: Armies and Leaders in Tacitus' Histories (1999), Tacitus: Histories II (2007), Oxford Readings in Tacitus (2012). She has revised and updated K. Wellesley's translation of Tacitus: The Histories (2009) and has co-written, with A. Sharrock, Fifty Key Classical Authors (2002), and co-edited, with J. Mossman and F. Titchener, Fame and Infamy: Essays for Christopher Pelling on Characterization in Greek and Roman Biography and Historiography (2015). Professor Ash is the author of numerous scholarly articles and book chapters on, e.g. the Elder Pliny, the Younger Pliny, Josephus, and Statius.

Professor Ash is one of three keynote speakers at "The Once and Future Kings" conference being held at the University of Queensland from 5-7 July. Details at and she is giving a public lecture at the opening session (online RSVP essential) on Wednesday 5 July at 6.00pm.