‘Was Judaea Rome’s Northern Ireland?’ Review

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At 6:45pm on 9th June 2016, in the sunny surroundings of Queen’s University Belfast, Dr John Curran stepped forward to the lectern of the Old Staff Common Room to read a prepared statement from the Classical Association in Northern Ireland to the assembled media and onlookers.

What followed was a 45min laying out of the familiarities between those two ‘provinces’ – Judaea and Northern Ireland – and the ‘Troubles’ they caused for the Romans and the British.

  • Both were political quagmires not just for the empires ‘governing’ those provinces but all for the various politico-religious factions within those provinces
  • Both were subject to experiments of rule by the rulers – direct, indirect, prefects, prime ministers, client kings, devolution, procurators
  • Both are considered something of a dead-end for the political career of those tasked with governing them
  • Both were riven with border fighting and asymmetric warfare
  • Both were dealing with the long-term consequences of plantations
  • Both saw military forces deployed as security, even when they proved themselves to be unsuited to or untrained for it, leading to “self-control being lost by those charged with keeping the peace.”
  • Both saw religiously/politically inspired violence followed by to a bitter peace
  • Both saw the releasing of political prisoners as a way to win and keep the peace


Dr Curran’s statement ended with what was perhaps least familiar between these two troublesome provinces – the degree to which they achieved progress. Thankfully, now in 2016, it appears that the situation in Northern Ireland is not going to end in full-scale, multi-faceted war as it did in Judaea in 66. Also, it is unlikely that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is going to be in any position to usurp the Prime Minister in London as Vespasian was able to do…



After a brief round of question, there followed a refreshing summer drink for all in attendance to close out the first full programme of events for the Classical Association in Northern Ireland. We would like to thank everyone who came and contributed to any of our events and hop you enjoyed them.

Keep an eye out on our Twitter, Facebook and website for updates on our programme of events for 2016/17.

In the meantime, check out our gallery for more pictures and video of this event HERE and other events in our Gallery and Previous Events/Reviews and have a look at the various entries in our Blog.

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