Professor Marco Conti was born in Rome in the period between the Rome Summer Olympics and the Second Vatican Council (you can go and work that date out now!).
He obtained a degree in Classical Literature (Laurea in Lettere Classiche) at the University La Sapienza in Rome. After moving to England, he gained a MA in Classics by Research at the University of Leeds, and a Ph.D. in Classics at the same university.
Professor Conti worked as a teaching assistant at the Universities of Manchester and Durham before moving back to Italy in early 2001 since when he has been teaching in different universities in Rome. In the Fall of 2013, he began his collaboration with the American University of Rome as a professor of Ancient History, Latin, and Ancient Greek.
He has published numerous academic books with different publishers, including Oxford University Press, Brepols, and InterVarsity.
Professor Conti's main hobby is music and he's been playing in semi-professional rock bands since the mid-70s. He has released 8 LPs (and a few singles).
Q. When were you happiest?
Definitely, when I discovered something very exciting in Literature or Music. When I read Petronius' Satyricon and Apuleius' Metamorphoses the first time, or when I first bought and listened to White Light / White Heat by the Velvet Underground in late 1975. Another happy day was when I bought my first bass guitar in 1976.
Q. What is your computer and/or phone wallpaper?
Just the one supplied by the manufacturer: I'm too lazy to make changes of this kind.
Q. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Definitely, an astronaut: I watched 2001 Space Odyssey, when I was 8, and in the same year they landed on the moon, so I think that was just inevitable for people of my generation.
Q. What is the worst job you've ever done?
Sentinel during my compulsory military service in the Engineer corps.
Q. How do you relax?
Mostly by reading Comic books, which are my second greatest passion after music. I'm an avid collector of classic American comics from the '20s to the '60s, and Underground comics of every age.
Q. Which word or phrase do you most overuse?
'Definitely', as I did all my postgrad studies in Britain...
If you could travel back in time just once, where and when would you go?
I would go to Adrianopolis on the eve of the great Gothic invasion (378 CE), just to feel the electric, sulfurous atmosphere of the impending doom of the western Roman empire.
Q. If you weren’t a professor, what would you be?
Full-time songwriter, bass player, and record producer.
Q. What trait do you most dislike in yourself?
Definitely, my pessimism and fatalism: I'm a bit of a Jacques le Fataliste, sometimes.
Q. What trait do you most dislike in others?
Bad manners and arrogance, stupidity, and conformism.
Q. What’s your guilty pleasure?
To drink British ale, which is definitely a bit strong!
Q. If you could bring something extinct or a deceased historic figure back to life, what or who would it be?
Definitely, Lucius Apuleius: there are quite a few questions I would like to ask him. I would also beg him to provide me with a copy of his lost work Hermagoras, which many scholars believe to be his second novel, written in the style of Petronius' Satyricon.
Q. What is the most important lesson that life has taught you?
That you must follow your true passions and inclinations if you want to be happy.
Q. Tell us a secret
I went to study in Leeds (UK) for my MA and Ph.D, not only because the University there had a good program suitable to my interest, but also because a British girl I was in love with lived there (I'm a romantic Classicist...)
Still curious about Professor Conti? Read his official academic biography here.