The funerary inscription of Clesippus tells an impressive story of illustrious honors and administrative achievements in Ancient Rome. But there is another story, one of a man who navigated slavery, disability, and the sexual advances of the woman who owned him.
The funerary inscription of Clesippus tells an impressive story of illustrious honors and administrative achievements in Ancient Rome. But there is another story, one of a man who navigated slavery, disability, and the sexual advances of his enslaver, a woman who supposedly obtained him as a “freebie” in the purchase of a candelabrum.
In this episode, historian Emily Lamond places Clesippus at the center of the story, exploring the social and cultural construction of disability in Roman Italy. She reimagines Clesippus’s enslaved experiences and attempts to see him as he might have seen himself—beyond what was chiseled into this tomb on the Via Appia.
Emily Lamond is a PhD graduate from the University of Michigan Interdepartmental Program in Ancient History (IPAH) and will be assistant professor of Latin literature and Roman history at McMaster University. In her dissertation, “Disability and the Ancient Roman Familia,” for which she received the 2023 Michael Erik Myatt Dissertation Award, she suggests definitions of disability in an Ancient Roman context: she outlines Roman elite ideals about household relationships and the ways in which certain minds and bodies were excluded from these ideals.
Episode Producer: Emily Lamond
Voice Actors: Theo Mathurin, Scott Testorelli
Host and Season Producer: Hannah Roussel
Executive Producer: Gregory Parker
Editorial Board: Elizabeth Collins, Paige Newhouse, David Tamayo, Kira Thurman, Hannah Tweet, Jeffrey Veidlinger, Sophie Wunderlich
Special thank you to Reverb Effect Season 3 Producer Allie Goodman for her work on this episode.
Music: Anno Domini Beats, “Never Surrender” (YouTube Audio Library License); Anno Domini Beats, “Sinister” (YouTube Audio Library License); Unicorn Heads, “Early Avril” (YouTube Audio Library License); Yung Logos, “El Secreto” (YouTube Audio Library License)
Image: Bronze candelabrum (lamp stand), Roman, ca. 1st century CE (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, CC0).
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