College of Arts and Sciences

Classical Studies

Cynthia Bannon

Cynthia Bannon

Professor, Department of Classical Studies
Director of Elementary Latin, Department of Classical Studies
Adjunct Professor, Department of History
Ballantine Hall, Room 554

Curriculum Vitae


  • A.B. at Harvard/Radcliffe Colleges, cum laude, 1984
  • Ph.D. at University of Michigan, 1991

Research Interests

  • Roman Law
  • Roman History
  • Latin Prose


My current research investigates water rights in the Roman world from legal, cultural, and historical perspectives. In my article, "Fresh Water in Roman Law: Rights and Policy" I lay the theoretical groundwork for a broad study of local water communities a local water communities in the Roman empire of the first three centuries. I am also writing a book on the Roman origins of common property law, Finding a Commons in Roman law, that anticipates an audience that inculdes lawyers working in contemporary environmental rights. A related project, a Casebook on Roman Water Law, makes the Roman sources accessible for teaching. All three new book projectes build on my second book, expanding the scope to chart practices across the empire and identifying region-specific solutions informed by local culture. I enjoy teaching Latin at all levels as well as courses in translation, especially Roman law. I have served on doctoral dissertation and exam committees for students in Classical Studies and other fields, and have benefited from these opportunities to learn more about the Classics and its place in broader humanities traditions.

Courses Recently Taught

  • Latin Prose Composition
  • Cicero
  • Roman Law
  • Roman Culture

Publication Highlights


Gardens and Neighbors.  Private Water Rights in Roman Italy. University of Michigan Press, 2009.

The Brothers of Romulus:  Fraternal Pietas in Roman Law, Literature, and Society. Princeton University Press, 1997.

Selected Articles

"Fresh-Water in Roman Law: Property and Policy." JRS 107 (2017) 1-30.

"Rivers, Rights, and Romanization." Ancient Law, Ancient Society, edited by D. P. Kehoe and T. A. J. McGinn, 122-43. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2017.

"Ancient Roman Water Rights and Commons Theory." The Politics of Fresh Water: The Politics of Access and Identity, edited by Catherine Ashcraft and Tamar Meyer, 13-27. London/Boston: Routledge, 2016.

"G. Sergius Orata and the Rhetoric of Fishponds." CQ 64.1 (2014) 166-82.