John Donahue ’80, associate professor of classical studies at the College of William and Mary, will give a talk titled "De salubritate urbis: History, Medicine & Health of the Ancient Community" at the College of the Holy Cross on Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. in Room 304 of the Hogan Campus Center. The talk, sponsored by the classics department, is free and open to the public.
Donahue holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. Among the courses Donahue teaches at William & Mary are Roman Satire, the Roman Historians, Pagans and Christians in the Roman World, Alexander the Great, and The Late Roman Empire. His recent book, The Roman Community at Table During the Principate (University of Michigan Press, 2004) examines public feasting in Rome during the first four centuries of the Common Era. Taking as its starting point the development of feasting in ancient Greece and then in Rome, this study brings to the fore the importance of the publicly shared meal in ancient culture and its particular significance within the Roman Empire. His unique study reveals the integral place of feasting in ancient culture as well as the unique power of food to unite and to separate its recipients along class lines. Since his research is interdisciplinary (e.g. he draws on sociological research in the food habits of modern France), it has attracted the attention and praise not only of classicists and historians of the ancient world, but also of anthropologists and sociologists interested in food and social group dynamics.
Holy Cross has the largest classics department at any undergraduate college in the United States. The College is ranked among the top five colleges or universities in the nation for the number of classics majors that it graduates each year (all classics majors must complete course sequences in both Latin and Greek).