Cynthia  J. Bannon

Cynthia J. Bannon

Professor, Classical Studies

Director of Graduate Studies, Classical Studies

Adjunct Professor, History


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

Research areas

  • Roman law
  • Roman history
  • Latin prose

About Cynthia Bannon

My research has primarily investigated Roman law in its historical and cultural contexts. I am interested in both practice and ideology, how did the Romans use law to organize social and economic relationships as well as the physical environment. My first book The Brothers of Romulus: Fraternal Pietas in Roman Law, Literature, and Society (1999) examined institutions of family law as a guide to use and abuse of brotherhood in the Republican era. With my second monograph, Gardens and Neighbors: Private Water Rights in Roman Italy (2009), I turned to property law, specifically the institution of servitudes or rights of use to water on private property. I evaluated the role of law in mediating relationships between neighbors and in husbanding a natural resources that was vital for Rome’s economic prosperity. My forthcoming Casebook on Roman Water Law broadens the scope to present the legal evidence from the Twelve Tables through the Justinianic Codes. The casebook grew out of preparations for a new monograph on the history of Roman water law, which contextualizes the law within the varied cultural and climactic environments of the Roman empire. I have also written about representations of law and the environment in poetic, philosophical, and technical literature, and these interests continue to inform my work.

Courses taught

  • Latin prose composition
  • Cicero
  • Roman law
  • Roman culture


Gardens and Neighbors
Gardens and Neighbors

Private Water Rights in Roman Italy

Cynthia J. Bannon

The Brothers of Romulus
The Brothers of Romulus

Fraternal Pietas in Roman Law, Literature, and Society

Cynthia J. Bannon

Selected publications


A Casebook on Roman Water Law. University of Michigan Press, 2020.

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.


“Seasonal Drought on Roman Rivers: Transport v. Irrigation.” In Climate and Society in Ancient Worlds (forthcoming).

“Free Like Sheep: Law, Humor, and Roman Political Culture (Cicero, De Oratore 2.284).” Law and Literature 31.3 (2019) 469-486.  DOI: 10.1080/1535685X.2019.1590978

"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.