CLAS 223
Roman History Spring 2025
Division I
Cross-listed HIST 223 / LEAD 223

Class Details

The history of ancient Rome can be seen as an account of formative events, practices, and thought in the history of western culture; it also is the history of the most far-reaching experience of diverse cultures, beliefs, and practices known in the Western tradition until modern times. By studying Roman history from Rome’s emergence in central Italy in the 7th century BCE through the reign of the emperor Constantine in the early fourth century CE, we will see the complex and fascinating results of an ambitious, self-confident nation’s evolution, transformation, and expansion throughout the Mediterranean world. We will consider questions such as, How did a republic with an aversion to autocratic rule and devotion to libertas understand its existence as an imperial power as well as its own elite’s dominant rule over Romans and non-Romans alike? How and why did the Roman republic and its deeply entrenched republican ideology give way to the effective rule by one man, Augustus, and the increasingly monarchical rule of the emperors who followed? Did Roman political life in the later republic cause the violence that left it in crisis, or did the persistance of violence in Roman life account for the nature of Roman politics? Who were the non-elites of Rome, Italy, and the Roman empire that often get left in the shadows in our ancient sources? Who were the important writers, politicians, poets, philosophers, and innovators whose works constitute a rich cultural heritage worthy of both appreciation and critique? Throughout the course there will be an emphasis on the problems of historical and cultural interpretation, on how the Roman experience is relevant to our own, and, importantly, on the pleasures of historical investigation. Readings for this course will include a variety of original sources, a range of scholarly essays on specific topics, and a textbook that will provide our chronological framework.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 35
Expected: 35
Class#: 3820
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Class preparation and participation, quizzes, a midterm, a final exam, and occasional short written assignments.
Prerequisites: None; open to all
Enrollment Preferences: First-year students and sophomores; majors and intended majors in Classics, History, and Art History.
Distributions: Division I
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
HIST 223 Division II LEAD 223 Division II CLAS 223 Division I
Attributes: HIST Group C Electives - Europe and Russia
HIST Group P Electives - Premodern

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