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Robert Chenault

Associate Professor of History and Classics

Headshot of Robert Chenault

Contact Information

Salem Campus

Eaton 314
900 State Street
Salem  Oregon  97301
503-370-6944 (Fax)


  • Ph.D., Greek and Roman History, University of Michigan (2008)
  • B.A., Literae Humaniores, University of Oxford (2002)
  • B.A., Classics and Political Science, University of Chicago (1999)

Research Interests

Professor Chenault is a specialist in the history of the later Roman Empire, with particular interests in the history of the city of Rome and its senators.

He is completing a book titled Rome Without Emperors: The Revival of a Senatorial City in the Fourth Century A.D. This book argues that the years between 306 and 410 deserve to be seen as a distinct period in the history of the city of Rome. This period saw the institutionalization of what in the earlier Roman Empire had been a temporary, aberrant, and occasionally destabilizing phenomenon: the absence of the emperor from the city of Rome. The withdrawal of emperors from Rome called into question the relationship between Rome and its Empire; for the first time in its history, the city of Rome was not the locus of political power in the Roman state. His book explores the political and cultural consequence of the emperors’ absence and argues that the primary beneficiaries of this vacuum were Rome’s traditional elite, its resident senatorial aristocracy.

As a secondary project, Professor Chenault is working on a translation and historical commentary on the surviving fragments of the Orations of Q. Aurelius Symmachus, a leading senator of the late fourth century A.D.

Selected Awards

  • Arthur Ross Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize (2007-8)
  • Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities (2002-3)
  • Marshall Scholarship (2000-2)
  • Phi Beta Kappa (1999)

Selected Publications

  • "Beyond Pagans and Christians: Politics and Intra-Christian Conflict in the Controversy over the Altar of Victory," in M.R. Salzman, M. Sághy, R. Lizzi Testa (eds.), Pagans and Christians in Late Antique Rome: Conflict, Competition, and Coexistence in the Fourth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press (2016) 46-63.
  • "Statues of Senators in the Forum of Trajan and the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity." Journal of Roman Studies 102 (2012) 103-132.


Classics Profile Page

Willamette University

History Department

Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-370-6061 voice
503-370-6944 fax