COURSE CONTENT: beginning with the prehistoric origins of Rome in the tenth century B.C. and concluding with the breakdown of the Roman Empire in the west in the third and fourth centuries A.D., this course offers to the student unfamiliar with classical antiquity a broad introductory survey of the history and culture of Roman civilization as it developed across this long period. The course will be divided into three segments. The first segment will examine the peculiar institutional advantages that enabled the Romans to conquer first Italy and then the Mediterranean world; it will climax in a discussion of the fundamental weaknesses in the political and social fabric that expansion revealed. The second part of the course will survey the tumultuous collapse of the Republic in the civil wars that dominated the last century of its existence (133-31 B.C.). The third and final segment of the course will touch upon various constitutional, social, religious and cultural features of the Roman world at its apogee, during the so-called Principate (A.D. 14-180). Here we shall also begin to unmask the inherent weaknesses in the structure of the Roman Empire and classical civilization at large that resulted in the collapse of both in the third and fourth centuries A.D.

Assignment will be post on Tuesday, December 11th, must be Dec 16.


It will covers lectures 7-8 and 13-14, and the assigned reading for these lectures.


7. Caesar and Augustus

Background reading: Nagle, pp. 227-235, pp. 227-243 of chapter 12

The clashing ambitions of Pompey and Caesar climaxed in a second round of civil war, from which Caesar emerged the winner (49-45 B.C.). His radical constitutional reforms provoked his assassination (44 B.C.), which in turn initiated the third and final round of civil war (44-31 B.C.). Violence thus brought his adoptive son Octavian to sole power, but as the emperor Augustus he restored peace and prosperity through a long drawn-out program of constitutional reform (27-2 B.C.).

8. At Home and Abroad

Required reading: Nagle, pp. 244-265 of chapter 12, pp. 267-271, chapter 13

Augustus found creative solutions to all of the institutional problems that had plagued the late Republic– while at the same time masterminding an aggressive program of imperial expansion, the last such in Roman history.

13. The Romans and the Barbarians

Background reading: Nagle, chapters 14-15, pp. 375-378, chapter 17

The evolution of Roman foreign policy in the period A.D. 70-337 will be our focus this week. The theme that lurks in the background throughout is the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

14. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Having examined the Empire's military difficulties last week, finally we turn to the weaknesses in her municipal institutions before wrapping up the course with a broad survey of the many forces that contributed to the failure of the Empire in the third and fourth centuries B.C.

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