William Warde Fowler

Tutor and Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford

The Religious Experience of the Roman People from the Earliest Times to the Age of Augustus

In his two series of ten lectures, Fowler examines the historical development of the Roman religious system, emphasising the importation of Greek ritual and philosophy onto Roman soil. He notes the influence of Roman religion on the formation of Christianity, which he regards as ‘the greatest of all religious movements’. The first set of lectures deal with the formation of Roman religion, and the second set describes the gradual change of the Roman religious system.


William Warde Fowler was born on 16 May 1847 in Somerset, England. A historian of Roman religion and one of the leading experts in the field, he overcame difficulties of sight and hearing to become a renowned ornithologist. After a year as Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford in 1872, he became Tutor and Dean, teaching Roman history for his own college and Oriel. He became a librarian and the first lay sub-rector in 1881 and remained a tutor until 1910, when he retired to Kingham. 

Awarded honorary degrees from the universities of Edinburgh and Manchester, he was President of the Classical Association in 1920. Fowler’s central interest was Rome of the Republic, and his lectures were very popular. Notable works include Julius Caesar and the Foundation of the Roman Imperial System (1892), The City-State of the Greeks and Romans: A Survey, Introductory to the Study of Ancient Period of the Republic (1899), Social Life at Rome in the Age of Cicero (1908), Roman Ideas of Deity in the Last Century Before the Christian Era (1914), and Roman Essays and Interpretations (1920).