Who were the Romans? How did they understand themselves as a people and ‘Roman’ as an identity? And what were the implications of that understanding – and perhaps more importantly the underlying reality – for Roman society and the success of the Roman Empire? This is the first part of a series looking at these questions, focusing on how identity functioned in the Roman world, beginning with the Republic and moving into the empire. We’re going to look at both Roman myths and writings (along with the writings of a few contemporary Greeks) and what they can tell us about where the Romans thought they came from, what it was to be a member of the Roman community and what that meant for Rome’s self-conception. But we are also going to pair that approach with a look at a mix of non-literary evidence (representational, epigraphic, and archaeological) and see how well the Roman self-evaluation stacks up against the evidence for the actual composition of Roman society. Moreover, we’re going to look at how the identity-structure of that actual Roman society contributed to exceptional Roman success.