History of Ancient Rome

Announcements

Bookmark this page as your main entry point to the course website. That way that you’ll be sure to see any changes and other information I’ve posted here.

Ultimate Deadline for Late Papers and Resubmissions

15 May 2022

The absolute deadline for all late papers and reversible deduction resubmissions is Wednesday, May 25. No papers or resubmissions will be accepted after that date unless an incomplete has been mutually agreed prior to that deadline owing to emergency circumstances.

CURRENT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Thanks for a great semester!

20 May 2022

Grades for the final exam will be posted by May 25. Please submit any missing papers and/or resubmissions for reversible deductions so that your course grade can include everything.

ARCHIVE

Position Paper grades and markups posted

19 May 2022

The grades and markups for the Position Paper are posted on the My Grades page on the course website.

If you have any questions about the grades, comments, or deductions, please don’t hesitate to seek me out by email.

Reversible deductions. Some of you may find that you received “reversible deductions” for issues relating to formatting and citations. The good news is, those are points that you can get back. Check the cover page of your markup to see if there are any check marks and points taken off next to the reversible deductions. If there are, I made notes on the cover sheet or in the essay about the issue, and included a handout with the requirements.

Please resubmit your essay to BlackBoard with those problems fixed, and I’ll be in a position to reverse those deductions. Only reversible deductions can be reversed, so don’t resubmit for anything other than reversible deductions.

Missing essays. If you have not gotten your paper in, please do so as soon as you can. In terms of your course grade you’re better off with any grade, even with a lateness penalty, than a zero for the assignment. Remember also that the lateness penalty is capped at a maximum of 30 points, so turning your paper in, even very late, is better than not doing so.

 Link to My Grades page

Final Exam Reminder

15 May 2022

Roman scribe shown with stylus and wax tablets, Flavia Solva, Noricum.
Roman scribe shown with stylus and wax tablets, Flavia Solva, Noricum.

The final exam will be held Thursday, May 19 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in our usual room. Please see the Exam page for more details and preparation materials. Good luck!

 Link to Exam page

Quiz #9 grades and markups posted

8 May 2022

The grades and markups for Quiz #9 are posted on the My Grades page on the course website. I strongly recommend spending a moment to take a look at my commentary on the quiz, as I use these to emphasize the key take-aways from last week’s topics:

 Link to My Grades page

Welcome to Week 14!

8 May 2022

The dome interior of the Pantheon, Rome.
The dome interior of the Pantheon, Rome.

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 an interesting discussion. Please make sure to attend and help bring our semester’s worth of explorations and insights together into focus. See you Thursday!

 Link to Schedule page

Images Essay grades and markups posted

5 May 2022

The grades and markups for the Images Essay are posted on the My Grades page on the course website.

I apologize humbly for the delay in getting these back to you. I am in the process of completely clearing the decks of all my backlogged grading so that I can grade your position papers and final exams promptly.

If you have any questions about the grades, comments, or deductions, please don’t hesitate to seek me out by email.

Reversible deductions. Some of you may find that you received “reversible deductions” for issues relating to formatting and citations. The good news is, those are points that you can get back. Check the cover page of your markup to see if there are any check marks and points taken off next to the reversible deductions. If there are, I made notes on the cover sheet or in the essay about the issue, and included a handout with the requirements.

Please resubmit your essay to BlackBoard with those problems fixed, and I’ll be in a position to reverse those deductions. Only reversible deductions can be reversed, so don’t resubmit for anything other than reversible deductions.

Missing essays. If you have not gotten your paper in, please do so as soon as you can. In terms of your course grade you’re better off with any grade, even with a lateness penalty, than a zero for the assignment. Remember also that the lateness penalty is capped at a maximum of 30 points, so turning your paper in, even very late, is better than not doing so.

 Link to My Grades page

Quiz #8 grades and markups posted

4 May 2022

The grades and markups for Quiz #8 are posted on the My Grades page on the course website. I strongly recommend spending a moment to take a look at my commentary on the quiz, as I use these to emphasize the key take-aways from last week’s topics:

 Link to My Grades page

Citations for assigned readings

2 May 2022

I found and posted the list of citations for all of the readings assigned for the course, in case you are using any of these materials in your position papers. The details listed here will also help you if you are looking for this passage in the full work for context, which I strongly recommend over using the excerpts provided in the Reader.

To access this new page, go to the Resources page and look for “Citations for the Course”, or follow this link.

 Link to Citations for the Course page

Reviewing for the Final Exam

1 May 2022

I’ve updated the final exam page on the course website. On this page you’ll find information about the final and review materials.

The review sheet is not designed to be a list of answers so much as questions you can use to guide you toward the areas you want to focus on in your review. As you read through the questions on the review sheet, those you have a sense of how you might answer are lower priority for review than those questions you’re not sure how you would answer; those you’d then want to go back and spend some time reviewing in your notes, the readings, the videos, quiz notes, and class discussions.

Also note that the terms are a useful way of finding concepts you need to go back and review, so I’d advise stepping through the terms at the end of each topic and making sure you have a sense of what they mean and why we’re studying them.

To prepare for the essays, I suggest that you focus on what you would consider to be four or five of the major themes of this course, and think about possible questions that relate to those topics across the periods and transitions we’ve explored. For the essay you’ll be asked to give three examples, so you can sketch out a question about a recurring topic in the course, your perspective on that question, and three similar or contrasting examples of that demonstrate that perspective.

Please take a look at the review sheet for details on the exam’s content and structure. Once you’ve read through the review sheet, if you have any questions about the exam or about any of the topics covered in it, please don’t hesitate to come to me or bring them up in our next class.

To get to the final exam page, click on “Exam” in the navigation index, or follow the link to the “Final Exam page” below.

 Link to Exam page

Reminder: The Position Paper is due Wednesday, May 11

1 May 2022

Here are a few brief reminders about the Position Paper, which is due very soon on Wednesday, May 11.

Watch the video. Make sure to watch the overview video, since that tells you exactly what I am looking for. It’s on the Position Paper page.

Thesis statement. Make sure you have an introduction with a thesis statement (your argument asserting your position on the question/problem being addressed) and a body that described and discusses three examples from the sources supporting your thesis statement. For models and explanations on how to do this, see “Writing a Position Paper” (a.k.a. “The Elephant Pamphlet”), which is on the Resources page.

Sources.

  • You must use at least three sources, which can be primary or secondary; tertiary sources (including textbooks and most web pages) are not allowed. See the Sources handout on the Resources page for more.
  • All assertions must be supported by evidence.

Requirements for all papers. You must adhere to the requirements for all papers (listed on the Essay Musts page). Not meeting the requirements for all papers will mean a lower grade.

Template. There is an MS Word template already set up with some of the formatting I require on the Resources page. If you use Word I strongly recommend making use of this template. There is also a Google Docs template.

Late papers. As per the syllabus, late papers are marked down by ten points per class meeting, up to a cap of thirty points. Avoid this penalty and block out the time you need to prepare, write, and review your paper so that it can be submitted on time.

BlackBoard. All essays are uploaded to BlackBoard. Look for “Upload Assignments Here” in the left-hand menu. Your essay needs to be uploaded as a Word (preferred) or PDF file attachment, not pasted in as text submission. If you use a browser-based word processor, download or export to a Word document and upload that.

I’m happy to discuss any aspects of your sources or the paper, so please come to me if there’s anything you’re not sure about. I’m looking forward to hearing your interpretations of your chosen depictions of the ancient Roman world!

 Link to Position Paper page

Welcome to Week 13!

1 May 2022

Bronze statue of Constantine the Great outside York Minster, England (commissioned 1998).
Bronze statue of Constantine the Great outside York Minster, England (commissioned 1998).

This week we’re going to be talking about the recovery from the Third Century Crisis, which takes the form of a number of new normals including the division of the empire, a new conception of the emperorship known as the Dominate, and the interweaving of Christianity with the Roman political state. How much of the credit for the empire’s recovery do you think should go to Diocletian and Constantine?

What other factors made it possible for the empire to endure another century and a half in the west and a full millennium in the east after the near-fatal triple calamity of the Third Century? How inevitable was the empire’s mutual intrusion with the church?

Looking forward to your discussions and reactions. See you Thursday!

 Link to Schedule page

Welcome to Week 12!

24 April 2022

A sardonyx cameo depicting the defeat of Roman emperor Valerian (r. 253-260 CE) by the Persian king Shapur. c. 260 CE. (Cabinet des Médailles, National Library, Paris).
A sardonyx cameo depicting the defeat of Roman emperor Valerian (r. 253-260 CE) by the Persian king Shapur. c. 260 CE. (Cabinet des Médailles, National Library, Paris).

This week we’re talking about one of the most dramatic periods of the Roman story: The Third Century Crisis, in which everything goes wrong all at once. What do you think are the most prominent causes of the catastrophe? How related are the economic problems to the military setbacks and the political anarchy? How far back does this go? Are policies, people, or the nature of the principate the culprit?

Looking forward to your discussions and reactions. See you Thursday!

 Link to Schedule page

Proposal responses are posted

24 April 2022

The proposal responses are posted on the grading page. I am very sorry for my tardiness in completing this work. I would make the deadline for the paper later, but I don’t want the paper intruding on your preparation for the exam, and the deadlines for posting grades are right after the final.

I am happy to discuss your research options and how you approach your arguments further in office hours or via email. I’m really looking forward to these papers; there are some strong topics with lots of possibilities, and I’m going to enjoy exploring them with you in your finished submissions.

Links: Here are a few links you might find useful:

  • Online Ancient Texts and Translations: Links to online ancient texts in translation.
  • Leonard Lief Library: CUNY OneSearch access. Do your search and then filter for Full-Text Online and Peer Reviewed Journals. You can also filter Resouce Type to Articles, Books, and Book Chapters.
  • Attalus Index of Names: enter a nomen (e.g. CLAUDIUS) or cognomen (e.g. MARCELLUS) and matching names will appear, with ancient textual references to that person organized chronologically by event and linked to the actual ancient texts.
  • LacusCurtius: Into the Roman World: One of the best archives of ancient Roman texts in English translation.
  • WorldCat: Bibliographic info on practically any book.

Important reminder about sources: You may use only primary and secondary sources for this paper. You need 3 sources minimum; the mix of primary/secondary will depend on the topic. The textbook (Ward et al.) is a tertiary source and MUST NOT be used. The Reader contains primary sources, but most of them are condensed excerpts; you should instead use the Ancient Texts page on my website to track down the original source to see the passages in context.

Quiz #7 grades and markups posted

15 March 2022

The grades and markups for Quiz #7 are posted on the My Grades page on the course website.

I strongly recommend spending a moment to take a look at my commentary on the quiz, as I use these to emphasize the key take-aways from last week’s topics:

Have a good break

17 April 2022

No classes this week. Enjoy your holidays.

Welcome to Week 11!

10 April 2022

Images of priests and senators on the side of the Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace), early first century CE.
Images of priests and senators on the side of the Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace), early first century CE.

This week, after we discuss the Flavians, we’re talking about the period of the Nerva-Antonines—the so-called “five good emperors”. It’s striking that there’s such a term in devised by modern historians. It signifies both something in common in these five men, and a contrast with those who are not part of this series.

What do you think in terms of both points? What kinds of things do they have in common, apart from the praise of later centuries? Are they worthy of that praise? How distinct are they from the Julio-Claudians and the Flavians? How do you see Rome changing critically in this period? You may be aware that true, relentless disaster is coming (the Third Century Crisis)—can we see the groundwork being laid? How has the Roman idea remained constant after eight centuries of constant transformation?

Looking forward to your discussions and reactions. See you Thursday!

 Link to Schedule page

Quiz #5 and Quiz #6 grades and markups posted

3 April 2022

The grades and markups for Quiz #5 and Quiz #6 are posted on the My Grades page on the course website.

I strongly recommend spending a moment to take a look at my commentary on the quiz, as I use these to emphasize the key take-aways from last week’s topics:

Welcome to Week 10!

3 April 2022

Frieze of Agrippina crowning her young son Nero with a laurel wreath. From Aphrodisias, 54-59 CE.
Frieze of Agrippina crowning her young son Nero with a laurel wreath. From Aphrodisias, 54-59 CE.

This week we’re talking about the Roman world adjusting to the loss of Augustus. What strikes you as interesting or surprising about the dramatic events of the Julio-Claudians? Why do you think we go from Augustus to Caligula and Nero so quickly? How much of Augustus’s plan really survives his death?

Though each princeps defines an era, emphasis on the ruler in Rome does tend to eclipse other things. What’s going on in the Roman world during this period that you think should really be drawing our attention?

Looking forward to your discussions and reactions. See you Thursday!

 Link to Schedule page

Reminder: The Images Essay is due Wednesday, April 6

27 March 2022

Here are a few brief reminders about the Images essay, which is due very soon on Wednesday, April 6.

  • Watch the video. Make sure to watch the overview video, since that tells you exactly what I am looking for. It’s on the Images Essay page on the course website.
  • Thesis statement. Make sure you have an introduction with a thesis statement (your argument asserting your position on the question/problem being addressed) and a body that described and discusses three examples from the sources supporting your thesis statement. For models and explanations on how to do this, see “Writing a Position Paper” (a.k.a. “The Elephant Pamphlet”), which is on the Resources page on the website.
  • Sources.
    • For the museum option, if you can go to a museum in person and view the works directly that is what I strongly prefer, as this option is about your subjective reactions to experiencing the works you are writing about. Remember to choose two works that have the same subject (two little girls, two warriors, two Minervas) but from different times or places so you can talk about the implications of how the same concept was conveyed differently in different times or places.
    • For the film option, you need to write about the agenda of the filmmakers and the agenda of the authors of the primary source and how each is using an ancient culture to impress their own beliefs (the filmmakers’ and the authors’) on the audience. If you’re not sure about the primary sources for the film you chose, make sure to come to me and we’ll discuss.
  • Requirements for all papers. You must adhere to the requirements for all papers (listed on the Essay Musts page on the course website). Not meeting the requirements for all papers will mean a lower grade.
  • Template. There is an MS Word template already set up with some of the formatting I require on the Resources page. If you use Word I strongly recommend making use of this template. There is one for Google Docs as well.
  • Late papers. As per the syllabus, late papers are marked down by ten points per class meeting, up to a cap of thirty points. Avoid this penalty and block out the time you need to prepare, write, and review your essay so that it can be submitted on time.
  • BlackBoard. All essays are uploaded to BlackBoard. Look for “Upload Assignments Here” in the left-hand menu. Your essay needs to be uploaded as a Word (preferred) or PDF file attachment, not pasted in as text submission. If you use a browser-based word processor, you’ll need to download or export to a Word document and upload that.

I’m happy to discuss any aspects of your sources or the essay, so please come to me if there’s anything you’re not sure about. I’m looking forward to hearing your interpretations of your chosen depictions of the ancient Roman world!

Welcome to Week 9!

27 March 2022

Statue of emperor Augustus, from Velletri, 1st century CE.
Statue of emperor Augustus, from Velletri, 1st century CE.

This week we’re talking about Augustus himself and the principate he created, and there are so many perspectives on him. What makes it possible for Augustus to rule without serious challenge for so long? What exactly is that nature of this rule? What’s wrong with it, and what’s right about it?

What is the rise of Augustus and the emergence of the principate telling us about the Romans of this time? Discuss your thoughts and questions about Augustus, his role in the Roman story, and all that’s going on around him. How different are Augustus the man and Augustus the idea?

Looking forward to your discussions and reactions. See you Thursday!

 Link to Schedule page

Welcome to Week 8!

20 March 2022

Coins depicting Antony and Octavian as triumvirs (III VIR).
Coins depicting Antony and Octavian as triumvirs (III VIR).

This week, after we catch up talking about Pompey and Caesar, we’re talking about Caesar’s assassination and its aftermath. Why do you think Caesar was really killed? Did the political climate make the failure of the self-styled liberators inevitable, or did they screw up a chance to restore Rome to a pre-Caesar state?

The end of the Republic is still dominated by colorful figures, including that oddest of couples, Antony and Octavian. Antony had the experience, and Octavian was just a kid—so what factors made it possible for him to win out over Antony? How does Cleopatra rate in all of this—pawn or freedom fighter?

I mentioned the end of the Republic, but historians still argue over when the Republic was truly gone. Given what the Romans would have meant by the word, when does the Republic end, do you think? What are the possible turning points after which what’s operating in Rome is no longer the Republic of the previous four-plus centuries?

Looking forward to your discussions and reactions. See you Thursday!

 Link to Schedule page

Quiz #4 grades and markups posted

15 March 2022

The grades and markups for Quiz #4 are posted on the My Grades page on the course website.

I strongly recommend spending a moment to take a look at my commentary on the quiz, as I use these to emphasize the key take-aways from last week’s topics:

Second presentation sign-up reminder

13 March 2022

Please make sure you remember to sign up for your second presentation if you have not done so already.

Fire Drill during March 17 class meeting

13 March 2022

The College has informed faculty that there will be a fire drill in Carman Hall on Thursday, March 17 at 6 p.m., which will obviously affect our class meeting.

Please come to class on time so that we can begin immediately on the completion of the fire drill (or at our regular time if the fire drill does not take place).

Welcome to Week 7!

13 March 2022

A statue of Julius Caesar in Turin.
A statue of Julius Caesar in Turin.

This week we’re experiencing Rome in the wake of the Marius’s bloody coup and Sulla’s equally brutal restoration of the Republic. Some parts of Sulla’s reforms have staying power, but a lot of what Sulla accomplished was rolled back in the decades after his retirement and almost immediate death. What do you think about that? What was Sulla’s most lasting legacy, and why did his reforms started to get unstuck almost from the day he gave up power?

The later stages of the breakdown of the Republic are a breeding ground for fascinating figures. What did Cicero really stand for, do you think? Are there potential justifications for saying Pompey was, in fact, “great”? Was Clodius an iconoclast, an anarchist, an attention-seeker, or a cultural troll? Who else grabs your interest from this turbulent time?

And then: Caesar. Your take, please, on one of the most famous Romans in history. Was he the man Rome needed in 49, when he crossed the Rubicon—to this day a metaphor for there being no turning back? Was his vision for Rome about more than just his own leadership—and if so, what kind of Rome do you think he hoped to create? How was Caesar bad for Rome, even if he had good intentions? And, inevitably: why do you think he was killed?

One more thing to ponder: Sulla and Caesar, though political opposites, had two things in common. Both marched on Rome, and both took hold of the power of the dictatorship to reshape Rome according to their vision. Caesar supposedly said Sulla’s mistake was that he resigned, restoring the Republic to a new normal he had created. Do you agree? Was Sulla naïve to resign, or was Caesar the one who should have stepped down before he was pulled down?

Looking forward to your discussions and reactions. See you Thursday!

 Link to Schedule page

Pre-Graduate School Advising Workshops

13 March 2022

The office of Pre-Graduate School Advisors has asked that the following Spring Workshops be announced to students.

Weekly advising hours for Spring Term, 2022:

Quiz #3 grades and markups posted

7 March 2022

The grades and markups for Quiz #3 are posted on the My Grades page on the course website.

I strongly recommend spending a moment to take a look at my commentary on the quiz, as I use these to emphasize the key take-aways from last week’s topics:

Welcome to Week 6!

6 March 2022

Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus.
Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus.

This week we start to experience the forces that will break up the Republic, but it will be a long century of turmoil and blood before the Republic is swept aside for the principate.

With the Gracchus brothers, the tensions that have been building in the Republic start to break loose. They were a polarizing factor in their lifetimes and they are just as polarizing now. From the primary sources, the readings, and the lectures, you get multiple perspectives on both brothers. Noble heroes or demagogues? Out to save Rome, or in it for the glory? Or both? What do you think truly drove Tiberius Gracchus, and how was his brother Gaius different or alike? Is their legacy their own doing, or did they happen to be the tribunes that pushed the conservatives over the edge?

And then we have the matched set of Marius and Sulla—who are, if anything, even more divisive today than the Gracchi. Marius the singular arch-populist, and Sulla the strange maverick among the optimates. Both were great generals and compelling leaders… both honestly believed they were saving Rome… and both were ruthless murderers who took Rome by force and massacred all their enemies. Sulla got the bad press because his side lost in the end, so step back and look at their stories objectively. What do you think of them as men, and what do you think of them as Romans? Do either or both earn your respect, and why? What do you think are Marius’s most lasting legacies, and what do you think are Sulla’s?

Looking forward to your discussions and reactions. See you Thursday!

 Link to Schedule page

Quiz #2 grades and markups posted

28 February 2022

The grades and markups for Quiz #2 are posted on the course website.

In terms of your grade so far, the important thing to remember is that most of the quizzes and all of your other grades still lie ahead, so the current quiz grade is only the beginning. This is all the more reason to make sure you are in class for the quizzes—any grade for a quiz is better than missing it and not having a grade for that quiz.

There’s a recap video live on the Videos page (the questions are in a different order but the same material is covered). The notes for Quiz #2 are attached to the markups and can also be found on the Print/PDF page on the course website. Come see me in office hours to discuss anything from the quizzes or strategies on how to prepare for them, or to collect your hardcopies if you want them.

Welcome to Week 5!

27 February 2022

Statue of an unknown young Roman.
Statue of an unknown young Roman.

This week, after we finish talking about the Punic Wars left over from last time, we’re talking about the Roman expansion in the East. Did the Romans deliberately set to out to create an eastern empire, or did it happen accidentally, as Rome reacted to events in the east? What factors do you think most drive Rome to increase its presence in the east?

We’re also talking about the effects of empire on Rome. What stands out to you as the way Rome is most changed by the acquisition of empire, and would the Romans have seen this as a positive change? What do you think the Romans were most concerned about as they saw the transformation empire was wreaking on them? Why would they embrace Greek language and culture if they were so proud of being Roman?

Looking forward to your discussions and reactions. See you on Thursday!

 Link to Schedule page

Quiz #1 grades and markups posted

22 February 2022

The grades and markups for Quiz #1 are posted on the My Grades page page on the course website.

You may be concerned about how well you did. Generally speaking, as I noted in class, the first quiz is always more of a challenge because you’re not used to what the quizzes are like in this course and the kinds of questions I ask, but that will change as the semester progresses. The main thing is to come into the quiz prepared, having done the readings, watched the lecture videos, participated in the class discussion, and pregamed the quiz itself by planning out likely topics and the assertions and examples you would provide in relation to questions about them. Remember, I try to ask open ended questions for which the best answers are assertions supported by examples; if you factor that into your preparations and thinking ahead about each quiz’s content you should have an advantage when taking the quiz itself.

The quizzes are normally graded within a few days of the quiz end date; sometimes this will be the next day, sometimes by the end of the weekend. I’ll make an announcement by email when the grades are posted. Grades and markups, once they’re available, are posted on the grading page on the course website.

More about the My Grades page: This is where I will be posting all the grades and markups for the quizzes and written assignments, as well as your overall course grades at the end of the winter semester.

To access the grading page, choose your name from the dropdown and click on “email me my password”. Your password will be mailed to the email address I have for you. If you do not receive the email with the password, check your junk folder—gmail users especially, as gmail likes junking those emails—and if it’s not there, please email me for the password.

Right now there’s nothing much to report, but you can still go and take a look. Currently it’s only showing the first quiz. There’s no “current grade” calculation for participation yet, not until we have more meetings. Later, as we have the quizzes and the first assignments, you’ll be able to track how you’re doing by the estimated grade calculations at the bottom of the page.

Let me know if you have any questions. See you Thursday!

Slides page upgraded

21 February 2022

I’ve upgraded the Slides page so that you can view the slides by thumbnail as well as in a carousel.

Welcome to Week 4!

20 February 2022

A colorized bust of Hannibal Barca.
A colorized bust of Hannibal Barca.

This week we’re talking about the Roman expansion in Italy, leading directly to Rome’s conflict with Carthage. That in itself is a topic for discussion: it seems like a straightforward progression, with Rome’s dominion getting larger and larger, like a time-lapse video. How is that impression misleading, do you think? Also, is it all about Rome? What factors in Italy might have made the growth of Rome’s power possible besides Rome’s military strength and adaptability?

Roman historians like to emphasize the Sack of Rome as turning the Romans toward more aggressive expansion. What do you think? What signs do you see that suggest Rome would have kept on taking more cities after Veii even without the Sack—or would they have settled down into their new and improved city-state on the Tiber and stayed put?

Both the First and Second Punic Wars also seem inevitable in retrospect. Why do you think the Romans really went to war? Did they really want Sicily and Spain, or was something else driving the Romans? Did they seek out these conflicts, or were they just reacting to events?

Both wars were utterly disastrous at first, and yet ended with Roman victories. Did those victories come from Roman success, or Carthaginian failures?

And: How do you think the Rome of 200, after Zama—the actual city, and its citizens milling in the Forum and gathering in its assemblies and in the senate hall—was different from the Rome of two hundred years earlier, before Veii and the Sack?

Looking forward to your discussions and reactions. See you Thursday!

 Link to Schedule page

Welcome to Week 3!

13 February 2022

A patrician Roman with masks of his ancestors.
A patrician Roman with masks of his ancestors.

This week we’re exploring the nature of the Republic—opening up the hood and seeing what makes it work.

One key concern for us this week and in the weeks to come is the factors and values that kept the Republic strong for most of five centuries. What do you think really kept the Republic going, not only well enough to survive but to prosper, expand, and become an empire?

A good way to explore how the Republic worked and how they thought about their relationship with the state is sorting out the officials and systems of the Republic. What seems strangest to you about this set-up? What’s the most impressive to you, and why? What factors do you think aren’t accounted for that might be a problem? When you think about how all of this operates on a day-to-day and year-to-year basis, what do you think is most likely to go wrong?

The most disruptive internal conflict of this time is the Conflict of the Orders. What do you think this struggle was really about? Why do you think it turned out the way that it did?

Perhaps most importantly, there’s the primary source you read this week. What did you get out of it? What is this author telling us about Rome, and what idea is he most bent on trying to convince you of? How does this fit with the rest of what we’re discussing this week?

Looking forward to your discussions and reactions. See you all on Thursday!

 Link to Schedule page

Welcome to Week 2!

6 February 2022

<em>Tarquin and Lucretia</em> by Titian (1571 CE).
Tarquin and Lucretia by Titian (1571 CE).

Reminder: Don’t forget to sign up for your first presentation on the signup page on the course website. Everyone needs to sign up for a presentation on one of the readings for the first half of the course. Any questions, let me know.

This week we’re talking about the Roman kings. What’s most striking to you about the kings, and how the Romans saw them? Why do you think did their legends described such a ferocious founding king in Romulus—and why did the Romans admire and literally venerate him anyway, placing him among their gods?

What do you think the stories of Tarquin and his son tell us about the Romans? Why are the stories of the Sabine Women and Lucretia so central to a manly culture like the Romans? Setting legend aside, what do you think really made the Romans turn their backs on monarchy?

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

 Link to Schedule page

Welcome to Week 1!

31 January 2022

A 3-D view of Italy.
A 3-D view of Italy.

This is just a quick note to welcome you to the beginning of History of Ancient Rome. I’m looking forward to exploring the Roman world with all of you.

Meeting in person will be an interesting challenge after two years away, but I know we can make it work. Try to arrive on campus early, as there may be lines at the entrances to campus.

Syllabus and video: As a reminder, the syllabus, assignments, and requirements are all on the course website, which is on my website, markbwilson dot com. Make sure you’ve looked through the site and that you’ve watched the welcome video, which talks about how the course works and answers some common questions.

Books: Also make sure you have the books. There are assignments in the textbook and the Reader starting next week. The reading assignments on the Schedule page of the website are what you need to have read (and thought about) before coming to class.

Email me: Most of you replied back to the welcome-to-the-course email I sent you after you enrolled, confirming that I have a good email address for you. If you didn’t, could you do me a favor and email me and let me know that I can use this address, or that that a different email is better for you? Thanks.

That’s it for now. Let me know if you have any questions. I’ll see you all Thursday!

 Link to Schedule page

Welcome to History of Ancient Rome (Spring 2022)

14 December 2021

Welcome to History of Ancient Rome! I’m looking forward to an interesting semester exploring the cultures and transformations of the ancient Roman world, from its origins as a humble city-state on the fringes of civilization to the fall of the western empire.

For the Spring semester, the course will be in person. Physical attendance in our class meetings is a required part of the course, so if that’s not something you’re up for this course may not be for you.

Right now, I need you to do three things.

  • First, look over the course website, which will be our base of operations starting at the end of February. Watch the quick welcome and orientation video (also linked below). Look through each of the pages on the website to see how the course will work, and make sure to click through to the weekly schedule pages to see how the readings, videos, and online discussions are set up. Any questions about how it works, please send me an email.
  • Second, get the books now if you can. A lot of you will be ordering books online, and you need to make sure you have the books and are ready to go when the course starts on February 3. On the “Books” page I’ve tried to give you lots of different options for getting what you need, but consider ordering now if there’s going to be any kind of shipping involved. (If you come across a legitimate online/e-text version of one of the assigned readings that’s not already listed, please let me know.)
  • Finally, please email me so that I know I have a working email address for you. You can just reply, reply and say “hi”, or reply with a question or concern, but I want to make sure I can contact everyone. If you receive an email from me but there is an email address you prefer I use instead of that one, please definitely reply and tell me that.

Email me anytime with questions. I look forward to starting our Roman journey together.

Course website: http://markbwilson.com/courses/UU/ar/ar.php

Quick Welcome and Orientation Video: https://youtu.be/1TxLCt2LuuM

Make sure you’re getting my emails

6 December 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.