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COURSE NAME: "Rome in the Age of Augustus"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 10:00-11:15 AM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: One previous course in Art History or Classical Studies or permission of the instructor

The course examines the dynamic and culturally vibrant period linked to the reign of Rome's first emperor, Augustus. It examines how the change from a Republic to a Principate was articulated in contemporary visual culture: from public works, to luxury goods, to funerary/domestic imagery. Fundamental is the examination of the change and radical redefinition of Roman political, cultural and artistic expression that characterizes this period. The course will provide a contextualized appreciation of the visual and artistic culture of the Augustan period. It will furnish students with an in-depth knowledge of key monuments and artworks, and their multifaceted connotations; an awareness of the refashioning and imaging of the city of Rome; and a nuanced appreciation of the particular relationship between politics and representation.

The course focuses on a close reading of the period 44 BC-AD 14, corresponding to the political career of Octavian/Augustus. The course will adopt a broadly chronological format within which overarching concerns are explored and thematic aspects are investigated. Central is the examination of the dynamic cultural landscape of this period – and the evolution of a new political format.

The main part of the course is an investigation of the development of the visual language of the Augustan period. Though in retrospect an Augustan-period style may be identified, the political and social climate of the period was one of evolution, experimentation and exchange. This will be framed by an examination of the character of late Republican art in Rome for a contextual appreciation of the complex visual world shaping the Augustan imagery, as well as by studies of the impact on cities in Italy and the provinces.

A fundamental aspect of the course is the exploration of the relationship between art and political reality, and the progressive and fluctuating character of this over time. The new political system in Rome created the context for new visual approaches, but the development was a dynamic engagement across social groups and over time.

The course will foster a firm understanding of developments and traditions in the history of the late Republic and early Principate. It seeks to develop an awareness of cultural characteristics and an ability to analyze trends and changes in context


The course will provide students with an in-depth knowledge of key monuments and artworks of the period, and of their multifaceted connotations.
The aim is to develop a contextualized appreciation of the visual and artistic culture of a multifaceted, cosmopolitan world.

The course will introduce students to discourses of cultural diversity and acculturation, as well as to response and reception.
The aim is for a nuanced appreciation of the construction of identity in a multicultural world.

The course will familiarize students with the rhetoric of spaces and styles, and the inherent narrativity of objects, and furnish them with the methodologies to interpret these.
The aim is for an awareness of spaces as dynamic stages of social interaction and an understanding of the impact of patronage and viewing.

The course will present students with works of diverse patronage and consider the transmission of inspiration and influence (rather than propaganda).
The aim is to further understanding of the impact of patronage and of social participation in the shaping of a new Augustan image.


Communicative skills – writing and oral competence
Term paper: Organization of material, focus on topic, and nuance in discussion
Exams: Contextual and nuanced discussion, focused presentation of data
Class presentations: Public speaking (presentation and development of argument) and didactic methods (engaging audience, posing questions)
Participation: Analytical responses; participating in debates; posing questions

Cognitive skills – critical thinking and interpretation
Class presentation: Evaluation and analysis of evidence; reflection on significance
Participation: Reasoned consideration of evidence and methods; willingness to adapt/revise ways of thinking; openness to alternative perspectives
Term paper and exams: Subtlety, nuance and engagement in approach to the topic
Lectures and class presentations: Visual analysis; contextualization; interpretative thesis

Collaborative and shared inquiry skills
Lectures and participation: Investigative response-skills; collaborative contributions; debate
Class presentations: Test, explore and communicate complex ideas

Investigative skills and evaluation of data
Term paper and class presentations: Using and evaluating diverse secondary texts; interpreting the arguments presented
Lectures and participation: Evaluation of context and impact of objects and spaces

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (1998) Zanker, Paul University of Michigan Press ISBN 978-0-472-08124-0 N5760 .Z36  
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
A full bibliography for the course will be provided at the start of the course-For core bibliography, see below-- 

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Further reading suggestions for the course will be provided at the start of the course---- 
Two class presentationsresearch presentation to class25%
Term paperResearch paper25%
Mid-term examIdentification and analysis of individual works, analytical discussion of theme/development20%
Final examIdentification and analysis of individual works, analytical discussion of theme/development30%

ASuperior work directly addresses the question or problem raised; provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information; demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory; and has an element of originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading
BGood work is highly competent; directly addresses the question or problem raised; demonstrates some ability to critically evaluate theory and concepts and relate them to practice; and discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture and reference material. The work provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CSatisfactory work provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings only; it may have some significant structural flaw, absence of information or research background, or too casual and imprecise a treatment, or contain only a minimum of interpretation.
DPoor work lacks a coherent grasp of the material; fails to support its argument with sufficient evidence; indicates a hasty or unconsidered preparation, and/or fails to fulfill the assignment in some way; omits important information and includes irrelevant points.
FFailure work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question; most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


• You are expected to participate in all scheduled classes. Absences and late arrival will be noted, and may affect your grade.
• You are expected to have dealt with food, drink and bathroom needs beforeclass.
• Make-up work is not offered, except in exceptional circumstances and after consultation with the Dean of Academic Affairs

Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed.

Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam: a major exam (midterm or final) cannot be made up without the permission of the Dean’s Office. Permission will be granted only when the absence is caused by a serious impediment or grave situation, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or funeral service for immediate family. Absences due to conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. 

Changes to / cancellation of class
Changes, additional course information, etc will be posted on MyJCU. Please check this regularly and, certainly, in advance of each class.
In case of unavoidable cancellations of class, notification will be posted at the front desk at both Tiber and Guarini campuses. A suitable date and time for a make-up class will subsequently be established.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Details of further reading suggestions as well as a relevant bibliography for the course will be provided at the start of the course.
Essential bibliography includes:

Bell, S. and Hansen, I.L. (eds) (2008) Role Models in the Roman World. UMP
Borg, B. (ed.) (2015) A Companion to Roman Art. Wiley-Blackwell.

Favro, D. (1996) The Urban Image of Augustan Rome. CUP
Fejfer, J. (2008) Roman Portraits in Context. De Gruyter

Flower, H.I. (ed.) (2004) The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic. CUP
Galinsky, K. (1996) Augustan Culture, an Interpretative Introduction. PUP
Galinsky, K. (ed.) (2005) The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus. CUP
Haselberger, L. [and Thein, A.] (2007) Urbem adornare. Rome’s Urban Metamorphosis under Augustus. JRA
James, S.L. and Dillon, S. (eds) (2012) A Companion to Woman in the Ancient World. Wiley-Blackwell

Kleiner, D.E.E. (1992) Roman Sculpture. YUP
Koortbojian, M. (2013) The Divinization of Caesar and Augustus. CUP
Wallace-Hadril, A. (1993) Augustan Rome. Bristol University Press
Zanker, P (1988) The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus. UMP

Please note the scheduled make-up days on Friday February 15 and March 4


Week 1
1.         Introduction to the course
Course requirements, logistics, etc
Assigned reading      None

2.        Art and civic politic: Athens and Pergamon
Parthenon, Athens; Great Altar of Zeus, Pergamon; civic identity, tradition and the impact of the alien
Assigned reading:     Familiarity with the syllabus; Zanker 1988: 1-5

Late Republican Rome (2nd-mid 1st cent. BC)

Week 2
3.          Spectacles of achievement

Elite competition in Rome; the triumph and the aristocratic funeral, impact of art/war spoil; Temple of Hercules of the Muses, Portico of Metellus, Temple of ‘Hercules Victor’ veristic portraits
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 11-18

4.     Artistic c
Cosmopolitan Rome; Paris–Munich reliefs, Tivoli general, Theatre of Pompey
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 5-11, 18-25

Week 3
5.        Caesar and Rome

Forum(s) of Caesar; mythological ancestry; king-like status in Rome
Assigned reading:     Stamper 2005: 90-102 (Forum of Caesar)

6.     Portraiture and statue forms
Veristic Republican portraiture, portraiture of Pompey and Caesar, Tivoli General, Delian portraits
Assigned reading:      Fejfer 2015a: 236-9 (Republican portraiture)

Second Triumvirate (44-31 BC) – Octavian and Octavia

Week 4
7.        Family relationships and divine associations

Death of Caesar, honors for Caesar; the second Triumvirate, political and family links with Caesar; divine associations
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 33-37, 57-65

8.      Marriage alliances and honors: Octavia, Cleopatra, Livia

Role and imaging of women: Octavia, Cleopatra and Livia; honors to Octavia and Livia 35 BC
Assigned reading:        Hemelrijk 2005: 309-10, 315-16 (honors of 35 BC); Kleiner 1992a: 75-78
(female portraiture)

9.         Octavian and the Palatine

Evoking and rejecting royalty; House of Augustus, Temple of Apollo Palatine
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 44-53

Reinventing the Republic (c. 30-25 BC) – Augustus and Agrippa

Week 5
10.      Actium victory, triumph, new powers

The Actium Battle, triumphal celebrations, settlement of 27 BC
Assigned reading:     Wallace-Hadrill 1993: 1-9; Zanker 1988: 89-98

11.       Augustus and Caesar
Temple of Divus Julius; depicting Caesar; awards for (the new) Augustus; Forum Romanum as an ‘Augustan space’
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 79-98

Week 6
12.         Mid-term exam
Details of exam format is available on MyJCU

13.       Public and private – luxurious gardens

Mausoleum of Augustus; Villa of Livia at Prima Porta; Villa at the Farnesina
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 72-77, 279-91

Week 7
14.      Agrippa and the Campus Martius

Pantheon; Agrippa’s Campus Martius; a new role model for elite patronage
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 139-43, 153-62

15.   Augustus and elite building works in Rome

Circus Flaminius area: Temple of Apollo Sosianus, Portico of Octavius, Portico of Philippus; Portico of Octavia; Theatre of Marcellus; the city and the imperial family – the city as a garden space for the people
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 65-71, 143-6

16.      A new settlement, 23BC
Forum Romanum as a ‘dynastic space’; role of Agrippa; Statue of Augustus from Prima Porta
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 79-82, 89-98, 188-92, 215-23

A new fatherly image (c 25-15 BC) – Augustus and Julia

Week 8
17.      A new image I: portraiture
Portraiture of Augustus and Livia
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 98-100, 128-9

18.   A new image II: dress codes and statue choices

Statue of Augustus from Via Labicana, the Roman toga, the stola
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 128-9, 162-66

Week 9
19.     The Parthian victory

Parthian Arch: a new image of non-Romans; Statue of Augustus from Prima Porta: a shared victory; Ara Pacis Augustae: barbarian children
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 183-92

20.         Forum of Augustus – pater patriae

Forum of Augustus: ancestry of Rome and Augustus, paternal role of Augustus
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 192-215

A new calendar and new “stakeholders” (c. 15 BC-AD 14) – Augusts and Livia

Week 10
21.       Spolia opima

Parthian standards; Temple of Mars Ultor; Temple of Jupiter Feretrius
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 101-14

22.      The Horologium and pietas

Horologium of Augustus
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 101-4, 143-4

Week 11
23.    Shared morality
  (Term paper due)
Ara Pacis Augustae; Priesthoods and neighbourhoods/vici of Rome
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 85-9, 118-23, 172-83

24.      The family of Livia

Augustan Forum Romanum; Temple of Concord; Porticus Liviae
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 110-12, 137-9, 223-30

Week 12
25.     A stakeholder world I: Pompeii

Building of Eumachia; Temple of Apollo in Pompeii; depictions of Aeneas and Romulus
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 316-23

26.    A stakeholder world II: Athens and Aphrodisias

Sebasteion at Aphrodisias, monopteros of Rome and Augustus, Athens
Assigned reading:     Kleiner 1992a: 158-61


Week 13
27.    Julio-Claudian Rome

Rome after Augustus, Rome as world city
Assigned reading:     Zanker 1988: 335-9

Week 14
28.      Review class

Overview and discussion of course content
Assigned work: Pose 3-5 questions, based on your revision study, for which you would like clarification and further detail

Week 15
29/30.  Final exam

Date, time and place to be announced