Robert Chenault

Associate Professor of History and Classics, Department Chair


  • B.A., Classics and Political Science, University of Chicago
  • B.A., Literae Humaniores, University of Oxford
  • Ph.D., University of Michigan

Research and Teaching

Professor Chenault is a specialist in the history of Late Antiquity. He is especially interested in the study of historical memory - how and why societies and groups remember the past and use these memories to shape their self-understanding in the present.

Professor Chenault's dissertation, Rome Without Emperors: The Revival of a Senatorial City in the Fourth Century, focused on the cultural history of Rome in the late empire. With emperors residing elsewhere, and the bishop of Rome not yet a dominant figure, senators in this period reasserted their control over the cultural capital of Rome. They reverted to a pseudo-Republican paradigm - a Rome that pre-dated emperors and Christians - to fashion an updated senatorial identity for the city in which senators played the leading role. Instead of describing the fourth century in terms of pagans and Christians, Professor Chenault argued that senators, whether pagan or Christian, were rarely motivated by religion; they were more concerned with constructing an image of Rome in which senators were the most prominent figures in the city.

Among the smaller projects he is working on, one concerns the emperor Julian's Caesares and shows that this most culturally Greek of emperors was nonetheless conversant with Latin historical traditions. The other is an analysis of the memory of the consuls Hirtius and Pansa (43 BC) in Roman culture. His dissertation work has also led Professor Chenault to two translation projects, one on the surviving fragments of Symmachus' Orations, the other a collaborative effort to prepare a sourcebook of noteworthy inscriptions from the fourth century.

Selected Awards

  • Arthur Ross Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize (2007-8)
  • APA Outstanding Graduate Work in Classics Award (2007)


  • "Statues of Senators in the Forum of Trajan and the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity." Journal of Roman Studies 102 (2012) 103-132.
  • Review of H. Sivan, Galla Placidia, the last Roman Empress, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.05.24 (link).
  • Review of C. Kelly, R. Flower, and M.S. Williams (eds.), Unclassical Traditions. Volume One: Alternatives to the Classical Past in Late Antiquity. Journal of Late Antiquity 4.2 (2011) 371-373.
  • Articles on "Symmachus, Q. Aurelius," "Milan," "Ravenna," in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, ed. Michael Gagarin, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Review of Cristiana Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus: A Political Biography, Journal of Roman Studies 97 (2007) 381-82.
  • Assistant Editor, Chronologies of the Ancient World (Brill, 2007).


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