Cynthia  J. Bannon

Cynthia J. Bannon

Professor, 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 focuses on Roman law and Latin literature. On the law side, I investigate Roman law in its historical and cultural contexts. 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 how the Romans created water rights to manage a natural resource that was vital for Rome’s economic prosperity. My Casebook on Roman Water Law broadens the scope presenting analytical introduction to both public and private laws regulating lakes, rivers, and the sea. Currently I am at work on a synthetic history of water rights that grapples with the evolution of public property in Roman law. On the literature side, in addition to a recent article on humor in Cicero’s De Oratore, I am writing about Livy’s treatment of formal Latin in religious vows.

Courses taught

  • Latin prose composition
  • Cicero
  • Seneca
  • 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.


“Water Rights for Tombs in Eleven Inscriptions from Rome.” In Water History (2023). Special Issue: Waterways Management in the Roman Empire, edited by M. Ronin and P. Candy.

“Seasonal Drought on Roman Rivers: Transport vs. Irrigation” In Climate Change and Ancient Societies in Europe and the Near East, edited by P. Erdkamp, J. Manning, and K. Verboven, 347-71. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2021. DOI

“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. Cited as one of the most read articles