The study of Roman history involves questions central to the development of Western institutions, religion, and modes of thought. Scholars have looked to Rome both for actual antecedents of European cultural development and for paradigmatic scenes illustrating what they felt were cultural universals. Yet Roman history also encompasses the most far-reaching experience of diverse cultures, beliefs, and practices known in the Western tradition until perhaps contemporary times. A close analysis of Roman history on its own terms shows the complex and fascinating results of an ambitious, self-confident nation’s encounter both with unexpected events and crises at home, and with other peoples. As this course addresses the history of Rome from its mythologized beginnings through the reign of the emperor Constantine, it will place special emphasis on the impressive Roman ability to turn the unexpected into a rich source of cultural development, as well as the complex tendency later to interpret such ad hoc responses as predestined and inevitable. The Romans also provide a vivid portrait of the relationship between power and self-confidence on the one hand, and violence and ultimate disregard for dissent and difference on the other. Readings for this course will concentrate on a wide variety of original sources, and there will be a strong emphasis on the problems of historical interpretation.
The Class: Type: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on class participation, occasional response papers, one 6- to 8-page paper, a midterm, and a final exam
Prerequisites: none; open to all
Distributions: Division I;
Distribution Notes: meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under HIST; meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under CLAS
Attributes: HIST Group C Electives - Europe and Russia; HIST Group P Electives - Premodern