Race and Ethnicity: Antiquity and Today

map of the world of Homer’s Odyssey

The papers on this page examine ancient Greek and Roman attitudes to ethnicity, identity, and difference, and their modern reception. Did the Greeks and Romans have a concept of “race?” How did they understand the differences they saw between themselves and other peoples they encountered in the Ancient Mediterranean? How did they express those differences in their literature and art? These papers, written for BUI 301 – “Race and Ethnicity in Antiquity and Today”, use primary sources to investigate Greek and Roman understandings of ethnic difference and attitudes to “foreign” peoples (e.g. Persians, Egyptians, Ethiopians, Gauls), and also consider what light those ancient ideas can shed on the understanding of similar issues in modern society.

If Cheese Could Talk: Food Narratives in Antiquity and Today (Marja Graham, 2019)


Alabastron with African warrior, Greek, Attic, c. 500 BC, white-ground technique on earthenware – Krannert Art Museum, UIUC