History of Ancient Rome

HIA 321 • Spring 2021 • Prof. Wilson


Final Deadline for All Papers

Posted: 18 May 2021

All submissions, late papers, and revisions (to recoup reversible deductions) must be uploaded to BlackBoard no later than Thursday, May 27. No exceptions will be made. Anything received after that date will not be accepted.

Please note that as per the syllabus I do not give incompletes, unless mutually agreed under extenuating circumstances in advance of the end of the semester. Therefore students are advised to submit all missing assignments no later than May 27.

Final Exam Preparation

Posted: 9 May 2021

The final exam will be posted on May 15 and must be uploaded to BlackBoard no later than Thursday, May 20.

Go to exam page

Welcome to Week 14!

Posted: 10 May 2021Topic image

This week we’re discussing the last stage of the Roman empire in the west, while the eastern empire goes on without it. Given that the empire stabilizes itself in the fourth century, what do you think are the most telling factors in why the western half falls apart so rapidly in the fifth century? Could the Romans have done anything about it?

Now’s a good time to think about the Roman idea. What perseveres about the idea of “Romanness” between Romulus and Romulus Augustus? There’s something still palpably Roman that runs through this entire 1300-year story. What does Romanness, Romanitas, consist of? What remains consistent and how does it evolve over the long centuries of Roman transformation?

Looking forward to discussing all this with you. See you Thursday!

Go to page

Make sure you’re getting my emails

Posted: 31 Jan 2021

If you haven’t been getting my emails, that means I don’t have a good email address for you (or they’re going into your junk folder). If this is the case, please email me and let me know what address I should use to reach you.

Welcome to the course!

Welcome to the History of Ancient Rome. This course is online, and everything you need is posted here. We'll be using BlackBoard only to upload papers.

The requirements are here: the required texts under Books, the writing assignments under Essays, and so on. The whole set of tabs together constitutes the syllabus for the course, so make sure to look through each section so you know what's expected of you. To see the entire syllabus as a printable PDF click here, or use the icon across from my name in the main picture.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email me.

Course Info

“Can any one be so indifferent or idle as not to care to know by what means, and under what kind of government, almost the whole inhabited world was conquered and brought under the dominion of the single city of Rome?”

HIA 321: History of Ancient Rome. 3 hours, 3 credits. In this course we will explore the foundation and development of the Roman state, including the rise and decline of the Roman Republic and the establishment and fall of the Empire, with emphasis on its political, economic, social, and cultural achievements.

Details HIA 321-A81 (55239), cross-listed with HIA 721-A81 (55243) and LEH 354-A18 (61052). Spring 2021. Online only. Online meetings: Thursdays 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.

Instructor Dr. Mark B. Wilson, Adjunct Assistant Professor. Email: mark.wilson@lehman.cuny.edu. Website: http://markbwilson.com. BlackBoard link


The colossal achievement of the Romans—a single city indelibly suffusing its unique sensibility through the entire ancient Mediterranean world—is only part of the Roman story. The people of Rome gained economic, political, military, and cultural dominance over the ancient West and laid the foundations for the medieval and modern worlds through a fascinating mixture of synthesis and adaptation, on the one hand, and unshakable faith in the Roman identity, on the other. How the Romans acquired an empire, and how that empire constantly reshaped Roman society, tells us not only about the Western civilization that descended from them, but about the dynamics of society, empire, and power.

Specific Learning Objectives

In this course we’ll be pursuing a number of goals, including:

  • Exploration of the emergence of Roman civilization and its implications for humanity;
  • Relation of the cultures and beliefs of other ancient Mediterranean societies to Rome’s;
  • Understanding the transformation of Roman social, military, religious, and other norms from the emergence of Rome as a city-state to its dominion of the Mediterranean world;
  • Discussion of the relationship between the ideals of Roman tradition and the modern Western ethos; and
  • Development of the skills associated with the study of history, including the interpretation of primary sources and other evidence.


Your grade for the course will be determined from the following:

Online Discussion10%
Online Presentation of a Primary Source (2)15%
Representations and Images Essay10%
Position Paper25%
Final Exam25%


We’ll have short, timed online quizzes to help gauge our relationship with the material in the readings most weeks. Quizzes cover the textbook reading plus primary sources. If you did the assigned readings, you should be prepared for the quiz.

Missed quizzes are not made up. If you miss a quiz, you’ll get a zero for that quiz. Therefore, please make sure you are prepared each week and take the quiz.

Online Discussion

Each week during our online meeting time students gather in the online discussion area for that week and post reactions to the issues and ideas brought up in the week's readings and videos. Your posts should include a question and should respond to other students in the discussion as well.

Online Presentation on a Primary Source (2)

You'll sign up for two of the brief primary source documents we're reading this semester, one from the first half of the semester and one from the second half. When we get to the week we have that reading, you’ll give a textual "presentation" about it to the class in our online discussion area. This is due the night before the class meeting for that document, so it can be part of the online discussion on the class meeting day. Details are on the Essays page.

Representations and Images Essay

You’ll write an interpretive essay on your choice of nonwritten artistic depictions of the ancient Roman world, including sculpture, painting, performance, or film, comparing the history that’s come down to us with how it has been represented. Details are on the Essays page.

Position Paper

You’ll write an essay discussing a turning point in Roman history of your choice, examining the source material, causes, and effects of the event or transformation and drawing your own conclusions about its meaning. We’ll talk about what’s expected. Details are on the Essays page.

Proposal. You will submit a proposal for the paper partway through the semester, so I can give you feedback on your plans.


The exam will be "take-home" essay exam, posted on a certain date and due a week later. We’ll discuss the content and structure before each exam, and a review sheet will be provided.

Note that the policy on plagiarism will be strictly observed for the essays, papers, and exam.


The following two books are required:

Assigned Books

  1. A History of the Roman People, 6th edition, by Allen M. Ward, Fritz Heichelheim, & Cedric Yeo. Pearson, 2014. ISBN: 978-0-205-84679-5. $87.78 (new print)
  2. De Roma: Excerpts from Ancient Writers About Rome, 2d Edition, ed. by Mark Wilson.
    2013. 978-1-481-90543-5. $8.00.
    • Getting this book:
      • There is a free and complete online version here on this website, so you need to buy it only if you want a physical copy in your hands.
      • Rent or buy (new or used) via the Lehman Bookstore.
      • Buy in Kindle or paperback (new or used) via Amazon.
    • The Reader is available as a hardcopy book from the bookstore or via Amazon, or online on this website.

The assigned books are available from Lehman College Bookstore and from Amazon and other online retailers (try searching aggregators such as Bookfinder for the best deals). Make sure you do so enough in advance that you’ll receive the books in time for the assignments.

Weekly Schedule

Each week has two parts: before the class meeting day, and class meeting day.
Our online meetings are: Thursdays from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

  1. Before the class meeting day:
    • Do the assigned readings (and think about them);
    • Watch the video lectures (and think about them); and
    • Complete any written assignments due that week.
  2. On the class meeting day:
    • Come to the weekly page below during the scheduled class meeting time and post and interact in the online discussion;
    • Upload any written assignments (if any); and
    • Take the online quiz (if there is one).

The weekly pages listing assignments and hosting our discussions are linked below.

Week 1
Week 1
Meeting Date: Thursday, Feb. 4
Introduction and Evidence.
Week 6
Week 6
Meeting Date: Thursday, March 11
Optimates and Populares.
Week 9
Week 9
Meeting Date: Thursday, April 8
Augustus, Princeps, Imperator.

Academic Expectations

Attendance and Participation

  • Participation in online discussion is a required part of the course. Missing classes will damage your grade.
    • Textbooks are designed to give you the basics; in our class meetings we try to make sense of things, and sift out what’s important. Missing classes means you miss out on a key part of our trying to put things together.
    • If you miss quizzes, it will put a big crimp in your grade for the course. Quizzes are not made up, so the quizzes you miss will count against you.
  • Religious observances that affect your class attendance should be discussed in advance.


  • Don’t waste this opportunity! Make the most out of this class.
  • Please use me as a resource. Interact with me in class meetings online or send me emails with any questions you have—whether they relate to the requirements of the course, or to ideas we’re reading about or discussing in class.
  • Come to the class meetings prepared. By prepared, I mean you should have done the readings and videos for that day—and thought about them. Come in ready to talk about your reactions to the readings and the videos, and the questions they raised in your mind.
  • Check your email. Make sure I have a good email address for you and check it, as I occasionally send information and updates by email. If you have not gotten an email from me within the first week after school begins, check your spam folders. If you can’t find an email from me, send me an email to let me know how best to reach you.
  • Talk to me if you’re struggling. Reach out to me via email, and the sooner the better. Don’t wait until it’s too late to turn things around.

Submitting Assignments

  • All written assignments must be submitted via BlackBoard using the upload links there. BlackBoard is accessed through CUNY Login. If you have trouble with BlackBoard, please call the IT helpdesk at (718) 960-1111 or go the Lehman College BlackBoard support page. I won’t accept written assignments by email . If BlackBoard itself is down, I’ll announce alternative arrangements to the class.
  • Late assignments will be marked down. I’ll still accept late submissions, but there will be a penalty that will hurt your grade.
    • Written assignments will be marked down one letter grade per class meeting after the assignment due date, up to a maximum of 30 points. That means you’re still better off turning in your paper late, and having it be marked down, than not turning it in at all.
    • I do not give extra credit opportunities except to the entire class. I do not grade on a curve.
    • I do not give incompletes unless we’ve discussed and agreed on the grounds for giving one prior to the final exam.
    • Make-up assignments or exams are given only in cases of documented medical emergency or comparable life disruption.
    • I do not accept rewritten essays after an assignment has been submitted, graded, and returned; but some deductions are reversible (see the sample grading sheet on the Requirements page).
  • Any instances of plagiarism, whether on essays, papers, quizzes, or exams, will have dire consequences. See the policies page for what counts as plagiarism and the penalties involved in presenting the work of others as your own.

Written Assignments

For this course, you’ll write a researched position paper (due at the end of the semester) and an essay on images of the ancient world. In addition, you’ll also turn in the write-up of your in-class presentation and a proposal for your position paper.

Open the sections below for the details, requirements, and guidance.

Position Paper 
- ProposalUpload to BlackBoard by March 18
- Optional DraftEmail to Professor by April 29
- Final DraftUpload to BlackBoard by May 17
Essay on Representations and ImagesUpload to BlackBoard by April 15
Presentations on a Primary SourcePost on the relevant weekly discussion page
on the night before the meeting date; Upload to BlackBoard also

Overview Videos

Assignment Requirements

Write a 6- to 8-page position paper in which you express an opinion about a topic related to Roman history, and use evidence to back up that opinion. In this paper, you’re taking a side on some question or controversy, and you're using reasoning and research to support your side of the argument.

We’ll work through it in stages over the course of the semester:

1. Choose a Topic

First, choose one of the 13 meeting topics for the course and decide on a controversy or debate pertaining to that topic.

  • You can choose something that the people at the time might have debated—e.g., “Is Greek culture degrading Roman virtue and old-fashioned values?” as a question arising in the late Republic, or a question arising among modern historians—e.g., “Did the Roman empire arise through conscious imperialism or ad hoc reactions to events?” In each case you need to outline both sides of the question in your paper and then provide evidence why you think one side was right.
  • Choose a topic you’re interested in and have fun with it. Make it wacky, make it provocative—anything is fine as long as you make an argument regarding your chosen topic and support it with facts.

2. Write a Proposal

The proposal is just a brief one-page preview of your position paper. It should include:

  • The topic you think you’ll want to write about and the problem you’re interested in addressing. You should be able to delineate the problem by describing the opposing views people might take. To make sure you have two clear opposing opinions, you might want to express them in the form “Some say… . Others say….”
  • Your preliminary thesis statement—in other words, what you think you might be arguing in your paper.
    • Your thesis statement, both here and in the final paper, should be a statement of opinion that someone could disagree with. It can take the form of following up the description of the opposing opinions with your own: “I believe….”
    • Remember that your thesis is provisional. You can change anything about your approach and interpretation after the proposal; in fact, uncovering information as you do your research makes refining or changing your initial assessments very likely.

Your proposal is structured like the introduction (see below), and may serve as the basis for it.

The proposal is not graded, but whether you submitted a proposal on time will be factored into the final grade for the position paper. I will give you feedback on things like the feasibility of researching your topic, whether the scope is too big or too narrow for a paper like this, and some possible sources you might want to look at.

3. Find your Evidence

Research your topic and find at least three sources that will provide you with evidence for your argument; these need to be primary and secondary sources only. I’ll point you toward some possibilities in my feedback on your proposal.

  • Ideally you should have a mix of primary and secondary sources, but it will depend on the topic.
  • Tertiary sources are not allowed. These include textbooks, encyclopedias, and most websites.
  • For guidance on finding full-text online primary and secondary sources in the Covid-19 era, read the Research Options handout.

4. Make your Argument

  • In your introduction, briefly describe the problem and state the position you will argue as a thesis statement. Your introduction should follow the format of the proposal (see below).

Sample Introduction



Hannibal Barca, the great Carthaginian general, brought 37 war elephants with him over the Alps into Italy, and at the climactic Battle of Zama they had a front line that included 80 elephants. Did Hannibal’s elephants really make a difference? Some say that Hannibal’s elephants were crucial in establishing the morale of his troops against the legendary Roman legions and in intimidating other armies along the way into alliances; but others say that Hannibal’s elephants did the Carthaginian side more harm than good in their fight with Rome. I believe that Hannibal’s use of elephants was a mistake, not because war elephants were a dumb idea in general, but because Roman adaptability meant that the Romans would inevitably find a way around them.
  • In the body of your paper, make three assertions as to why your thesis statement is valid. For each assertion, describe and discuss the evidence from the primary and secondary sources.
    • For example, if you were writing the Hannibal/elephants paper above, you could start one section with an assertion that elephants were not a bad idea inherently, then discuss evidence showing the effective use of elephants in war.
    • Then begin the next section with an assertion that Romans were adaptable in war, and discuss evidence showing how Romans changed their military tactics and strategies to meet new kinds of war and new enemies.
    • Your third section could begin with an assertion that it was Roman adaptability that trumped the effectiveness of Hannibal’s evidence, and discuss the evidence that showed how the Romans overcame the use of elephants in the fight with Hannibal.
    • Each section starts with an assertion followed by evidence, and each section builds on the previous sections to make an overall argument.
  • End with a conclusion that shows how your three assertions came together to support your thesis.

Optional Draft. You may submit an optional draft two weeks before the final due date. It should include most of your paper (at least two thirds of the final content, with sections to be written described in square brackets). I’ll give feedback, but not a grade, to help you refine your final paper. To make sure I see it soonest, please email me your optional draft rather than uploading it to BlackBoard.

Write a 3 to 4-page essay taking a position on one of the following topics:

  1. Two pieces in a museum. How a culture sees abstract ideas (masculinity, virtue, old age, divinity, and so on) is often reflected in its artwork. What can two different works of art depicting the same idea, but from different times or places, tell us about how the cultures that produced them?
    • First, go to a museum website and find two works of art from the ancient Roman world that (a) reflect the same abstract idea or the same subject and (b) come either from different cultures or from the same culture but different historical periods.
      • For example, you could choose two love goddesses, one from Roman Egypt and one from Rome; or you could choose two little girls, one from Republican Rome and one from the Imperial Rome.
      • Possible venues include: Metropolitan Museum’s Greek and Roman Art Collection; Fordham Museum of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Art. You are, of course, not limited to these venues, and you are not limited to New York.
    • Describe and discuss three aspects of the first artwork that seem to reflect how the artist felt about the subject and what the subject stood for. Compare each of these aspects to a similar (or contrasting) aspect of the second artwork. (Some possibilities include facial expression, dress, use of technique or medium, stiffness/fluidity, apparent strength/weakness, idealism/realism, or any other elements offering some kind of insight into what the artist was trying to convey.)
    • Make an argument about how consistently the same core idea was seen in the two times or places that produced these two works. If art is an expression of cultural values, what do the differences between these works tell you about the respective cultures they come from? What do their similarities tell you about what these ancient Roman cultures have in common?
    • On a separate “Works Discussed” page after your essay:
      • List the title of each work, the artist, the approximate date it was created, the city or region it came from originally, and the name of the museum gallery where the work can be found.
      • Paste in photographs of the items. If it’s permitted at the museum, take a picture of the items while you’re there. If it’s not, find pictures of those specific items on the museum’s web site.
  2. The ancient Roman world on film. Every depiction of an historical event, whether in prose, poetry, painting, theater, or film, involves an artist using history to convey his or her own beliefs. What do the creators of the film and the authors of the source material it was based on want you to believe?
    • First, choose and watch any feature-length film set in the ancient Roman world. Then find the ancient primary source material it was based on and read it. (Some suggestions are below.)
      • Describe and discuss three moments from the film that demonstrate what the filmmakers are trying to say about these events and the people or cultures involved. Compare each of these moments to the corresponding moment in the primary source material.
      • In both cases, you are to discuss the filmmakers’ and the author’s intent and agenda—how the filmmakers and the ancient authors are using the past to drive their own agendas and beliefs.
      • Do not use the source to fact check the film and list what it got “wrong”. You must consider the primary source to be at least as skewed, manipulative, and agenda-driven as the film.
    • Make an argument about what the creators of the film and the authors of the source material want you to believe. How were these stories twisted (or preserved) to shape the audience’s perception of the culture and society depicted in the film and the primary source?
    • On a separate “Works Discussed” page after your essay, list the title of film, year, director, stars and studio. Then list the book or books you drew your written evidence from, using standard citation style. The references to the primary source must be cited in the text as usual.

Some possibilities for the film and sources option include, but are not limited to, the following. Links to most of these primary sources can be found on the ancient texts page on my website.

Rome and the Roman Empire

Film Subject / Possible primary sources to compare
Agora (2009)Hypatia
Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, 7.15; John of Nikiû, Chronicle 84.87-103; The Suda, Life of Hypatia
Attila (2001)Attila
Jordanes, Origin and Deeds of the Goths 36-53; Procopius, History of the Wars 3.4
Boudica (2003)Boudica
Tacitus, Annals 14.29–39, Agricola; Cassius Dio, Roman History 62
Caligula (1980) [warning: explicit sex]Caligula
Suetonius, Caligula; Cassius Dio, Roman History 59
The Centurion (1961)Battle of Corinth
Polybius, The Histories book 38
Centurion (2010)Roman Britain
Tacitus, Agricola
Cleopatra (1963, 1999)Cleopatra, Caesar, Antony
Plutarch, Caesar and Antony
Coriolanus (1963)Coriolanus
Plutarch, Coriolanus; Livy 2.33–2.40
Decline of an Empire (2014)St. Katherine of Alexandria
Saints lives of Saint Katharine of Alexandria
Druids (2001)Vercingetorix, Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar, Gallic Wars book 7; Cassius Dio 40:33–41, 43:19; Plutarch, Caesar 25–27
Duel of Champions (1961)Horatius
Livy 1.24-26
The Eagle (2011)Roman Britain
Tacitus, Agricola
Empire (2005 Mini-Series)Augustus
Suetonius, Augustus; Nicolas of Damascus, Life of Augustus; Cassius Dio, 45–56
The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)Rome under Commodus
Cassius Dio 73; Herodian 1.15; Historia Augusta, “Commodus”
The First King: Birth of an Empire (2019)Romulus and Remus
Livy 1.4-6; Dionysius 1.71-87; Plutarch, Romulus; Ovid, Fasti; Appian, Roman History book 1
Gladiator (2000)Rome under M. Aurelius, Commodus
Cassius Dio 73; Herodian 1.15; Historia Augusta, “Commodus”
Hannibal (1959) or Hannibal (2006)Hannibal Barca, 2d Punic War
Cornelius Nepos, Hannibal; Livy 21-30; Plutarch, Fabius
Hero of Rome (1964)Scaevola, Lars Porsena, formation of Roman Republic
Livy 2.1-21
I, Claudius (1976) [1-2 episodes]Claudius
Tacitus, Annals 11–12; Suetonius, Claudius
Julius Caesar (1953, 1970, 2002)Julius Caesar
Plutarch, Caesar; Suetonius, Divine Julius
Messalina (1960)Messalina. Claudius
Suetonius, Claudius 26-29, 37; Tacitus Annals 11-12; Cassius Dio 60-61
Pompeii: The Last Day (2003) or Pompeii (2014)Eruption of Vesuvius, Roman Italy
Pliny the Younger’s letters to Tacitus, #65 and #66
Quo Vadis? (1951, 2001)Persecution of Christians under Nero
Tacitus, Annals 13–16; Suetonius, Nero; Cassius Dio 61–63
Rome (2005–2007) [use 1-2 episodes]Collapse of the Roman Republic
Various (see me)
Fellini Satyricon (1969)Imperial Rome, homosexuality
Petronius, Satyricon
Scipio Africanus: The Defeat of Hannibal (1937)Scipio Africanus, 2d Punic War
Polybius 10; Cornelius Nepos, Hannibal; Livy 26-29; Valerius Maximus 3.7; Plutarch, Marcellus and Fabius
Siege of Syracuse (1960)Archimedes, Siege of Syracuse
Plutarch, Marcellus; Livy 21-23
The Sign of the Cross (1932)Persecution of Christians under Nero
Tacitus, Annals 13–16; Suetonius, Nero; Cassius Dio 61–63
Spartacus (1960) or Spartacus: Blood and Sand (2010)Spartacus, Roman galdiators/slavery
Appian, Roman History 116–120; Plutarch, Crassus 8–11

For your two presentations on a primary source from the Reader, write a 2–3 page essay that does the following:

  • Briefly summarizes what the document says and, more importantly, analyzes what the author is trying to say about the subject at hand. In other words, you need to identify and discuss what you believe is the author’s interpretation, bias, and point of view and how it affected the author’s treatment of the topic. Give examples from the document that illustrate your assessment of the author’s spin.
  • Provides perspective by relating the material in the document, and the author’s bias on it, to the bigger picture—the material being discussed in class.

The main point of the presentation and the write-up is NOT to summarize the reading. Summary should be less than 25% of your presentation and your write-up. The main point is to analyze the reading and talk about what it means and what it tells us about that place and time in ancient history.

Your write-up needs to be posted on the weekly discussion page the night before the class meeting for which we are reading that selection, so your fellow students can react to it during our discussions. Post the essay to BlackBoard at the same time for grading.


Documents related to the writing assignments:

Requirements for All Papers

All written assignments for this course MUST adhere to these requirements—or be subject to a reduced grade.


Check all of the following before submitting any paper. All papers submitted to me must:

Formatting musts

  1. Be typed, double-spaced, in 12 pt. standard font, with one-inch margins.
  2. Have a cover page with the title, your name, my name, and the date.
  3. Have page numbers on each page after the cover. The cover should not have a page number.
  4. Include both citations and a bibliography. (See Evidence musts.)
  5. Run at least the required length specified in the assignment.
  6. Have titles of books, films, and plays italicized and capitalized.
  7. Be submitted via BlackBoard as a Word or compatible file attachment or as a PDF attachment.

Evidence musts

  1. Support all assertions with evidence from your sources.
  2. Use only primary and secondary sources. Tertiary sources are not allowed, ever.
  3. Provide a footnote or a parenthetical citation for all direct quotations, descriptions, paraphrases, and ideas from sources.
  4. Include a bibliography listing all sources used.

Structure musts

  1. Have an introduction paragraph that states the problem or question being addressed; discusses possible opinions on this problem; and ends with a thesis statement—a statement of opinion that someone could disagree with.
  2. Cover three reasons why your thesis is true. Each should have an assertion (what your reason is), a description of supporting evidence (some moment in your evidence that's an example of your assertion), and a discussion of how your evidence demonstrates the point you're making.
  3. Have a conclusion that summarizes your three reasons and why they support your thesis.

Tips for Meeting the Requirements

Formatting notes

  • Use the template. Save the trouble of setting up the cover and page numbers—use the MS Word template file I created.
  • Page counts. Page counts are for full pages not counting the cover page and bibliography. If the requirement is “3-4 pages”, what I am looking for is at least 3 full pages of text, not counting the cover and not counting the bibliography.
  • BlackBoard notes. You may only submit via BlackBoard. Do not submit written assignments as submission text—they must be file attachments. If you need help with BlackBoard, go to the Lehman IT BlackBoard support page or call the IT helpdesk at (718) 960-1111.

Evidence notes

  • You may not use tertiary sources for any assignment. Tertiary sources include textbooks, encyclopedias, study guides, dictionaries, my lectures, and almost everything on the internet except online scholarly journals and transcribed primary sources. If you’re not sure, ask me.
  • Citing direct quotes is not enough. This common mistake will lose you points. Paraphrases and ideas must also be cited.
  • Citation styles. You can use Chicago, MLA, or any other citation style. What matters to me is that anything that’s not your analysis must have a footnote or a parenthetical citation that points to an item in your bibliography. See the Elephant Pamphlet for more on citations and bibliographies.
  • The number of sources you need to use varies from assignment to assignment.

Structure notes

  • See the Elephant Pamphlet for more on how to do all of this, including thesis statements, essay structure, and citations.
  • You can submit an optional draft for any paper, no later than one class meeting before the due date. I won’t grade it, but I’ll give you feedback about how well you’re addressing your topic and thesis. To make sure I see it soonest, please email me your optional draft rather than uploading it to BlackBoard.
  • I will not mark down for grammar, but clarity is important. Please spell-check and, if you’re not sure about your writing, have a friend read it.
  • See me for guidance. I am available anytime, by email or in office hours, to discuss any aspect of your paper.

Grading Criteria

Each paper will be graded according to the following criteria. A copy of the grading form I use is available on the course website.

  • Introduction (20%) • States a topic and problem within the assignment • Ends with a definite thesis statement (a specific opinion that can be disagreed with) • Thesis gives insight into the assignment prompt
  • Organization (25%) • Main body organized in 3 sections, each addressing a different aspect of the thesis and building support for it • Each section is driven by a specific, concrete assertion • Each section is self-contained and focused on its topic
  • Analysis (25%) • Interpretation dominates over description (why over what) • Analysis prefers the specific to the general • Analysis provides insight on the relevant time and culture • Analysis supports the section assertions and overall thesis • Analysis provides in-depth answers to questions in prompt
  • Evidence (15%) • Evidence used is relevant and well-chosen • Assertions are consistently supported by evidence • Independent voice retained with judicious use of quotes
  • Conclusion (15%) • Paper ends with an appropriate concluding paragraph • Conclusion draws together the arguments made in each section and reinforces the thesis • Conclusion answers questions from assignment prompt

Reversible deductions.If you have one of these deductions, you may resubmit your paper with these problems fixed, and I will modify or remove the deductions. Only these deductions can be reversed.

No cover sheet–3
No page numbers–2
Work titles not italicized/capitalized–2
Missing items in bibliography–4
No bibliography–8
Some citations missing–5
Many citations missing–10
All citations missing–30

Nonreversible deductions. These deductions reflect problems inherent to the paper as it was submitted. They cannot be reversed.

Submitted late (1 meeting)–10
Submitted late (2 meetings)–20
Submitted late (3+ meetings)–30
Too short–10
Fewer sources than required–20
Tertiary sources used–10
Heavy use of tertiary sources–25

Academic Policies

  • Assignments that include any plagiarism will receive a zero. Students engaging in repeated instances of plagiarism will fail the course outright and will be remanded to the College for disciplinary action.
  • A variety of accommodations are available to students with disabilities, and tutoring is available to students seeking help.

Listed below are various official school policies included in all Lehman College syllabi, with clarifications relating to this course as required. You are responsible for this information and for all information in this syllabus.

Attendance Policy

Student handbook notes that “Students are expected to attend all class meetings as scheduled, and are responsible for all class work missed as a result of late registration or absence. Excessive absences in any course may result in a lower final grade.”

  • Participation in online discussion is a required part of the course. Missing classes will damage your grade.
    • Textbooks are designed to give you the basics; in our class meetings we try to make sense of things, and sift out what’s important. Missing classes means you miss out on a key part of our trying to put things together.
    • If you miss quizzes, it will put a big crimp in your grade for the course. Quizzes are not made up, so the quizzes you miss will count against you.
  • Religious observances that affect your class attendance should be discussed in advance.

Accommodating Disabilities

Lehman College is committed to providing access to all programs and curricula to all students. Students with disabilities who may require any special considerations should register with the Office of Student Disability Services in order to submit official paperwork to instructor.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism Policy

What is plagiarism?

Here is CUNY’s official definition of plagiarism:

  • Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writings as your own. The following are some examples of plagiarism, but by no means is it an exhaustive list:
    • Copying another person’s actual words without the use of quotation marks and footnotes attributing the words to their source.
    • Presenting another person’s ideas or theories in your own words without noting the source.
    • Using information that is not common knowledge without acknowledging the source.
    • Failing to acknowledge collaborators on homework and laboratory assignments.
  • Internet plagiarism includes submitting downloaded term papers or parts of term papers; paraphrasing or copying information from the internet without citing the source; and “cutting & pasting” from various sources without proper attribution.
Key Points

Use of writing or ideas. The key phrase is right up front in the definition: “another person’s ideas”. Copying and pasting from another source without attribution is plagiarism, but so is using someone’s ideas even if they’re reworded. Plagiarism is the act of using someone else’s work and presenting it as your own, under your name.

What is an essay?  When you present an academic essay, it’s an act that says, “This is what I think. These are the conclusions I have drawn from studying this issue.” An essay is your assessment of a subject, and the ideas in it are presented as your ideas, with any ideas not your own carefully footnoted and clearly segregated so it’s clear what is your analysis and what is evidence drawn from primary or secondary sources.

Paraphrasing. Paraphrasing or putting things into your own words does not alter the use of someone else’s ideas as your own. Here’s why. If the phrase appearing in an essay written by someone else is, for example, “To apply this type of painting to residential interiors was a Roman idea”, and in your essay it’s reworded as “it was the Romans who applied this type of painting method to home walls”, it doesn’t change the fact that someone else’s ideas are being presented as if they were your own, as if those ideas originated in your own mind. It’s still intellectual dishonesty.

Citations. All information from any source you use must have a citation, period. This is true whether it’s a direct quote, a paraphrase, or just an idea you’re talking about that came from the source you used. For more information on citations, please see the section on citations and bibliographies in the Elephant Pamphlet (pages 13-19).

Self-plagiarism.Reusing writing you’ve previously submitted for credit, in order to get credit for it a second time, is a form of academic dishonesty known as “self-plagiarism.” For example, if you retake a course, you may not submit a paper, or parts of that paper, that you previously submitted for credit the first time you took the course for the same assignment the second time you take that course. You must write a different paper consisting of new material for the submission the second time around. Similarly, if you wrote a paper for course A, and course B has a similar assignment, you may not submit that paper, or parts of that paper, for the similar assignment for course B. You must write a different paper consisting of new material for course B.

CUNY Plagiarism Policy

“Academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York. Penalties for academic dishonesty include academic sanctions, such as failing or otherwise reduced grades, and/or disciplinary sanctions, including suspension or expulsion.” All violations are reported to the Department and Lehman College’s Academic Integrity Officer.

Policy for this Course

Lehman College is committed to the highest standards of academic honesty.

Acts of academic dishonesty include—but are not limited to—plagiarism (in drafts, outlines, and examinations, as well as final papers), cheating, bribery, academic fraud, sabotage of research materials, the sale of academic papers, and the falsification of records. An individual who engages in these or related activities or who knowingly aids another who engages in them is acting in an academically dishonest manner and will be subject to disciplinary action.

Plagiarism includes the incorporation of any material that is not original with you without attribution, whether from a book, article, web site, or fellow student, in any paper or assignment.

Assignments that include any plagiarism will receive a zero and the offending student will be subject to additional action by the College. Students engaging in repeated instances of plagiarism will fail the course outright and will be remanded to the College for disciplinary action.

Technology and Blackboard Information

You are required to use Blackboard to access course materials and to post assignments to Safe Assign.

You are required to provide your best email address to me; if not provided I will use the one given by the school. Either way you must sign into that email account for course messages—and check it! Blackboard will only allow me to send individual and mass messages to Lehman accounts. If there is an issue, this is the only account to which I can send and if I email the class something, the fact that you didn’t know about an assignment or course change because you don’t check your email will never be accepted for not knowing the information.

Instructional Support Services (ISSP)

Lehman College’s Instructional Support Services Program (ISSP) is home of the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) and Science Learning Center (SLC). Both offer students an array of activities and services designed to support classroom learning. Open to students at any level, there are individual, small group, and/or workshop sessions designed to improve “proficiency in writing, reading, research, and particular academic subject areas. Computer-assisted writing/language tutorial programs are also available,” as well as individual tutors, workshops and tutors.

Regular tutoring hours for fall and spring semesters are: M–T 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Library Tutors are also available in the Library. These tutors offer help with Library resources and computers.

Writing-Intensive Course Requirements

Lehman Students must complete four writing-intensive courses. In a WI Course, “students should be expected to write approximately 15-20 pages of proofread, typed work that is turned in to the instructor for grading.” Various courses stipulate various requirements designed to meet this requisite over the course of the semester. WI courses focus on revision, short and long assignments, graded and ungraded writing, journals, etc, and each will have “a class-size limit of twenty-two. Under no circumstances will more than twenty-five students be admitted to any writing-intensive section.”

Student Handbook

Students are strongly encouraged to download and become familiar with the Student Handbook.


The basics you need to know for this class about footnotes and bibliographies in two fun pages.
Writing a Position Paper
Writing a Position Paper
AKA the Elephant Pamphlet. Guidance on research, structure, and citations. PDF - HTML
Maps and Timelines
Maps and Timelines
Helpful maps of the ancient Mediterranean world, and timelines of the ancient era.
Online Video Lectures
Online Video Lectures
My video lectures on YouTube for Ancient Civilizations, Ancient Rome, and Women in Antiquity.
Online Ancient Texts
Online Ancient Texts
A fairly exhaustive list of ancient authors and online translations into English.
MS Word Essay Template
MS Word Essay Template
A Microsoft Word file that’s already set up for the formatting required for my essays.
Save as… or Save as Template… after opening.
Common Word Mix-Ups
Common Word Mix-Ups
Suggestions for sorting out a few of the words that are commonly mixed up in English writing.

All Videos

The following are all the videos associated with this course.

Overview Videos

Quiz Recaps

Video Lectures