Paul Swarney talks about the war on terrorism in the first century

The war on terror is not a modern phenomenon; it was a reality for many as far back as Caesar Augustus’s time. So says Paul Swarney, senior scholar in the Division of Humanities at York, who will discuss “The War on Terrorism in the First Century” as part of the College Masters Public Lecture Series.

The second lecture in a series of nine, “The War on Terrorism in the First Century” will take place Wednesday, March 18 from 7 to 9pm at the Renaissance Room, 001 Vanier College, Keele campus. It is hosted by the Office of the Master, Vanier College.

It looks at how wars against terror were notable features in the world of Augustus and his immediate successors. “Attacks in what are now modern Iraq, Israel, Egypt and Germany generated calls for vengeance, retribution and solutions, most of which proved as violent and dangerous as the attacks themselves,” says Swarney, senior scholar in classical studies and academic adviser in the Office of the Master, Winters College. “The era beginning with Augustus and ending with the death of Nero finally concluded with two horrendous acts of vengeance – the complete destructions of Cremona in Italy and Jerusalem in Judea.”

Internal squabbles among those seeking to right perceived wrongs were common, as were dangerous shifts in public opinion on how to deal with terrorists during that time.

“The outcome of debates about diplomatic or military solutions nearly bankrupted the Roman system and almost destroyed absolutely those who were targeted as terrorists,” says Swarney. “The use and abuse of terror as instruments for promoting political and even religious agendas in the first century are perhaps distant rumblings remarkably echoed in our own age.”

Organized to celebrate York’s 50th anniversary, the College Masters Public Lecture Series offers an opportunity for each of York’s nine colleges to present on a topic of relevance to the college and to the University at large.

There is no registration fee to attend, although advance registration is required. To register or for more information, contact Diana Sargla at ext. 55192 or at, or visit the U50 Web site.