Michael Kulikowski

Michael Kulikowski teaches at Penn State. His books include Imperial Triumph: The Roman World from Hadrian to Constantine and Imperial Tragedy: From Constantine’s Empire to the Destruction of Roman Italy.

Monumental Folly: Heliogabalus’ Appetites

Michael Kulikowski, 30 November 2023

When​ Gabriele D’Annunzio’s personal secretary likened his employer to Heliogabalus, that short-lived emperor was still a byword for florid decadence. He died at eighteen, but the Syrian boy’s appetites were monstrous from the start. He favoured every kind of sex that Romans deplored, cunnilingus most of all. He had himself shaved all over, like a eunuch, and chose his...

What the Badger Found: Moneybags

Michael Kulikowski, 2 February 2023

All the shops​ on my university campus have gone cashless. The vendors at our farmers’ market use little card readers that plug into their phones. We use cash very little these days and coins even less. By recent historical standards this is an aberration. Since the 1850s and 1860s, when banknotes were standardised in Britain and the United States respectively, most people, most of the...

Kings and Kinglets: Cassiodorus

Michael Kulikowski, 12 August 2021

Ancient​ Latin literature has reached us along an improbably narrow path. Two millennia of rats, fire and floods were as nothing compared with three historical bottlenecks. Only one of these was technological and, perhaps surprisingly, it was not the invention of the printing press but of the codex. The rapid replacement of papyrus rolls by the bound codices we know as books, complete by...


All Together Now

17 June 2021

Ian Penman gets it mostly right, but there’s more to say about why the Beatles have inspired more cover versions than the Stones. The Beatles, like Bob Dylan (and to some extent Van Morrison and Ray Davies), wrote songs in the same way Schubert or Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote songs. However deeply layered and baroque their own studio versions could be, the elements of the songs are separable...

A Marketplace and a Temple: Ancient Urbanism

Michael Kulikowski, 18 February 2021

‘Aculture, we all know, is made by its cities,’ Derek Walcott said in his Nobel lecture. Greeks and Romans would have agreed. Although 90 per cent of the ancient population, perhaps more, lived on and worked the land, the thought-world of Mediterranean antiquity was based on the city. It was where all the life that mattered – public life, that is to say, the life of the...

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