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  • Discipline(s): Classical Studies History
  • Available: Fall Semester
  • Course Type: Standard Courses
  • Taught in: English
  • Credits: 4
  • Course Travel: Overnight trip to Rome

CLAS / HIST 330: The Roman Empire

Important Note: This class is cross-listed with CLAS 330. This course was formerly HSRE 330.

Course Description

The course explores the political, social, economic and cultural history of Rome and its Empire, with a special focus on the history of the early Roman Empire (the so-called Principate: from Caesar to Commodus – from the first century BCE to the second century CE). The course will begin by reviewing and critiquing the story of a small village built on the Tiber’s bank that managed first to unify the Italian peninsula under its military and political leadership and then to become one of the leading cities in the Mediterranean basin and eventually the capital of the Ancient World, whose dominion, at its heyday, stretched from the Hercules’ Columns in the West to Mesopotamia in the East. This review will end with discussing how and why the Imperial system finally changed and gave birth to a new form of civilization, which eventually became what is considered the modern layout of Europe.

The course will include an examination of several aspects of Roman Civilization through a study of ancient evidence, both textual and material, and Rome’s relationships with other contemporary peoples. We will analyze the very meaning of “Roman Culture,” and the very important contribution of the Hellenistic world. The understanding of the process of Romanization of the populations dominated by the Romans will play a significant role in the course in order to understand how the Roman Culture spread throughout the Mediterranean to become one of the pillars of our modern culture.

With the above approach, we will be focusing on some of Rome’s more characteristic features: ranging from religion to art to society and politics. In the end, the goal is to “look at the Romans through the eyes of the Romans.” The field trip to Rome, with her remains of ancient monuments and museums with major archaeological collections, will help students to enliven their picture of this culture and attain a richer and more complex understanding of the phenomena.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Learn the major events in the history of ancient Rome;
  • Engage with both primary and secondary sources and to examine how authors of different time periods and social backgrounds present key issues;
  • Explore the use of material remains (archaeological record) in learning about Roman culture; and
  • Consider how Roman civilization influenced their culture, and, more generally, the development of world history.

Course Materials

Mandatory course readers.  When needed, additional handouts will be provided by the instructor.