Matthew Loar is a Classicist specializing in the literary and visual culture of late Republican and early Imperial Rome. His primary research focus is Rome’s transition from Republic to Empire, and especially the ways that literature of this period invoked and manipulated myth in an attempt to navigate and normalize this transition. His current book project, Hercules at the Crossroads of Myth and History in Augustan Rome, examines the popularity of two very different myths of Hercules in the Augustan period: Hercules’ battle with the robber-monster Cacus, and his cross-dressed servitude to the Lydian queen Omphale. The book argues that the Augustan forms of the myths provided interpretive frameworks for understanding some of the radical changes to Rome’s political, urban, and religious landscapes that accompanied Augustus’ violent rise to power in 31 BCE.
Matthew is also Program Faculty for the Women's and Gender Studies Program.