Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)

Degree Level





Charles Muntz

Committee Member

Lynda Coon

Second Committee Member

Daniel Levine


Disaster Relief, Imperial Government, Roman


This dissertation examines the practice of imperial disaster relief between 29 BCE and 180 CE. It focuses upon both the process of disaster aid delineating how Roman emperors were petitioned for assistance, the forms disaster relief took, and the political motives individual emperors had for dispensing disaster aid. Chapter 1 provides a brief introduction to the topic. Chapter 2 outlines the scope of the study as well as the examples used to establish disaster relief in context. Chapter 3 gives an overview of euergetism and also discusses two cases of disaster assistance that pre-date the reign of Augustus. Chapter 4 describes the process of disaster aid from petition to benefaction. It offers analysis of the different stages of disaster recovery and when acts of imperial aid fit within those stages. It also examines the funding sources for imperial benefactions designed to assistant cities rebuild. Chapter 5 explains the correlation between disaster relief and an emperor's political image. It explores the religious significance that could be attached to major disasters. Then, the chapter shifts to three specific case studies that illustrate how disaster response could positively or negatively impact the political standing of an emperor. Chapter 6 offers a final, brief summary of the key points of this study.