Fellows and Senior Members

Dr Jerry P Toner
External Director of Studies
Director of Studies in
Dr Jerry P Toner


I am the Director of Studies in Classics at Hughes Hall.

My research looks at Roman social and cultural history, with a focus on trying to look at history 'from below'. Feel free to contact me on jpt14@cam.ac.uk

I have a number of favourite areas:

1. Popular Culture

My book, Popular Culture in Ancient Rome (Polity, 2009), analysed the life of the non-elite in Roman society and built on the work I started in my PhD, later published as Leisure and Ancient Rome (Polity, 1995). I am currently working on a number of projects looking at non-elite Roman social relations. I am also teaching a Part II course in the Classics Faculty with Mary Beard entitled "Popular Culture in the Roman Empire".

2. The (mis-)use of Classics to create various imagery and stereotypes relating to subordinate groups

My book Homer's Turk: How Classics Shaped Ideas of the East (Harvard University Press, 2013) shows how historians and travel writers have used classical sources to help create various images of Islam and the Orient.

3. Roman Disasters

My latest book, Roman Disasters (Polity, 2013), has just been published and looks at the important role that disasters played in Roman life and culture, ranging from floods and fires to warfare and famine.

4. The Senses in Roman history

I started looking at this in a chapter of my popular culture book, "Common Scents, Common Senses", trying to see how different a sensory world the non-elite inhabited. I am now editing a book on the Cultural History of the Senses in Antiquity (Bloomsbury) which looks at the senses from a wider perspective. I am also contributing a chapter on "Smell and Christianity" to a volume edited by Mark Bradley on Smell in Antiquity (Acumen).

5. Mental Health

I think the Roman non-elite as a whole had a lot of mental health issues but faced and expressed them in a completely different way from the modern world. A chapter of my Popular Culture book looked at this, while a chapter of the Disasters book looks at the psychological effect of these traumatic events. I have also contributed a chapter based on this to William Harris' edited book on Mental Disorders in the Classical World (Brill, 2013).


Main Publications:

Roman Disasters, Polity Press, 2013

Homer's Turk: How Classics Shaped Ideas of the East, Harvard University Press, 2013.

Popular Culture in Ancient Rome, Polity Press, 2009

Leisure and Ancient Rome, Polity Press, 1995


After completing my PhD in Classics at Cambridge, I spent 10 years as a Fund Manager in the City of London, where I managed USD15bln in global bond, currency and asset allocation funds, mainly for European pension funds. As a result of this business experience, I am tutor to the College's MBA and EMBA students. I am also Chair of the College's Investment Strategy Committee.

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