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COURSE NAME: "History of Ancient Rome and Italy"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Benedetta Bessi
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 10:00-11:15 AM

This course surveys the history of ancient Rome and Italy, focusing on the origins and metamorphoses of Rome from its archaic foundations as an Italic-Latinate kingship to an imperial city. The course examines the establishment, expansion, and conflicts of the Republican period; the political and cultural revolution of the Augustan ‘Principate’; the innovations of the High Empire; and the transition into Late Antiquity. Course materials include the writings of ancient authors in translation (these may include Polybius, Sallust, Cicero, Livy, Augustus, Suetonius, and/or Tacitus) as well as modern historians and archaeologists, along with considerations of Roman art, architecture, and archaeology.
This course is designed to offer a comprehensive survey of the history of ancient Rome and its expansion through Italy, Europe and the Mediterranean with special attention  transformations which were brought by such growth and effected Rome's social and politcal organization. The complex dynamics of Roman policy will be explored by lectures and class discussions and the analysis will be supported by the use of primary sources as well as artistic, archaeological and epigraphical material.
The course mainly aims at:
- offering a well articulated overview of Roman history from the foundation of the city (753 BCE) to the fall of the Western empire (476 CE).
- discussing the relevance of literary, archaeological and epigraphical sources to the reconstruction of Roman history.
- familiarize the students to the topography and geography of Rome, the Italian peninsula and the Roman empire at large.
- connect the material studied in class with present day Rome and more general current issues (race and gender, socio-political integration, labour organization, economy, geopolitcs).

By the end of the course, students will be able to:
- identify the main events, characters and geographical places of Roman history.
- critically analyze the political institutions of Rome, their functions and their powers.
- discuss the nature and bias of Roman historians and Roman historiography.
- understand the historical significance of some of the most important archaeological monuments of Rome.
- recognize the existance of stereotyped interpreations of Roman history and of its protagonists.
- evaluate and prioritize the evidence necessary to create a coherent analyis of an historical topic. 
- appreciate the relevance of the Roman civilization for many aspects of the modern and contemporary world (politcs, military strategy, religion, infrastructures and technology, etc.).

Other transferable skills acquired include:
-  Bibliographic research skills.
- Academic writing skills.
- Time management skills.
- Oral communication skills.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
A Brief History of the RomansM. Boatwright and aliiOxford University Press 978-0199987559  
A Brief History of the RomansM. Boatwright and aliiOxford University Press 9780199987559  

research paper a paper due at the midterm on a topic pertinent to the social, cultural or economic history of Rome. Whereas the areas of research are predefined by the professor ( religion, family, slavery, entertainment and leisure, funerary customs, trade and economy) and a preliminary list of bibliography is provided as a starting tool (see separate attachment on MyJCU), the students are responsible to identify their own topic to match personal interests and curriculum. The paper is not to be conceived as an argumentive paper but rather as an exploratory research on the chosen topic. The most important requirement is the diachronic dimension of the research and the ability to organize the material according to the chronological progression of the phaenomenon. Both primary and secondary sources should be included and a visual apparatus of 3 figures should be attached. The minimum length is 1500 word (4-5 double spaced pages). References and bibliography following MLA or Chicago style are required and papers not presenting them will not be evaluated. Specific guidelines and the grading rubric are posted on a separate file on MyJCU. 25%
4 in class quizzesConsidered the length of Roman historical and the amount of information to be retained, your preparation on factual knowledge will be tested through the semester with regular quizzes containing short answer questions with emphasis on dates, names and vocabulary. For each quiz, you will be given 15 minutes. The dates of the quizzes are listed in the course schedule. The quiz with the lowest grade will not be evaluated. Each of your quizzes will therefore account for 10% of your final grade. Please be aware that if you miss a quiz - for any reason, including illness - you will not be able to make it (but it will not be tallied). 30%
final exam final exam with cumulative short answer questions on the whole program (identical or similar to those of the quizzes) and open end questions to assess the personal understanding of the material (short essays, self reflection). The date of the final will be announced by the Registrar at some point during the semester so please, do not schedule travel during Finals'week until dates of exams are confirmed. 30%
Readings, class participation and discussionAll readings are to be completed before the session under which they are listed. Coming prepared to class guarantees the possibility to contribute to class discussion and to maxime the benefits offered by the professor's lecture. During class discussion, students are welcome and actually encouraged not only to answer questions but also to ask their own questions and share doubts or perplexities with the professor and their peers. A proactive, engaged attitude is expected at all times and the professor may require students whose behaviour is disruptive to leave the classroom. No cell phones, laptops or other electronic devices are allowed. 10%
AttendanceAttendance is expected and is mandatory. Roles will be taken at the beginning of each session and in case a students walks in after his/her name has been called, it is his/her responsability to stay behind and verify with the professor that his/her status has been updated. Later claims about attendances will not be accepted. More than three absences will effect your final grade by one grade (e.g. A becomes an A-). Tardiness as a regular habit is not accepted and every two tardi an absence will be calculated. 5%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

Attendance is mandatory and it will be taken at the beginning of each session. More than 3 unexcused absences will result in the lowering of the grade (A to A-; A-to B+ etc.).
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.




Mon Sept 2  Introduction of course and course material.

Geographical and historical background.

Wed Sept 4  Italy in the Early Iron Age and the origins of Rome

textbook, ch. 1

J. Clackson, A Companion to Latin Language, Wiley 2011, 48-52 (on the Etruscan origins of the Latin alphabet); 246-248 (on the Indoeuropean origins of Latin), available as an E-book through Frohring library, please read the section in reverse order.


Mon Sept 9 Legendary traditions on the origins of Rome

Livy, selected passages

Wed Sept 11 Rome's First Centuries

textbook, ch. 2


Mon Sept 16   Rome and Italy in the Fourth Century

textbook, ch. 3

Wed Sept 18 Rome and Carthage

E.J. Wolters, “Carthage and Its People”, Classical Antiquity, 47, 1952, Jstor

Visit the exhibit “Carthage and its myth” opening on Sept 27 in the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum


Mon Sept 23 1st in class quiz 

Wed Sept 25   The Beginnings of a Mediterranean Empire

textbook, ch. 4



Mon Sept 30 Italy and Empire

textbook, ch. 5

Wed Oct 2 Italy Threatened, Enfranchised, Divided

textbook, ch. 6


Mon Oct 7 The domination of Sulla

textbook, ch. 7  

AThein, “Sulla the weak tyrant”, in Ancient Tyranny, Edinburgh 2006, Press, 2006. doi:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621255.003.0055 available as ebook through the Frohring library

Wed Oct 9  End of the Republic: Caesar's dictatorship

textbook, ch. 8



Mon Oct 14 2nd in class quiz 

Wed Oct 16 in class discussion of the research paper

Paper due



Mon Oct 21   Augustus and the transformation of the Roman world

textbook, ch 9

S. Grebe, “Augustus’Divine Authority and Vergil’s Aeneid”, in Vergilius 50, 2004, 35-62

Wed Oct 23 The Julio Claudian 

textbook, ch. 10

Barrett, Anthony, Elaine Fantham, and John Yardley, eds. The Emperor Nero: A Guide to the Ancient Sources. Princeton, 2016, pp. 149-170


Mon Oct 28 The Flavians  

textbook, ch. 11 (up to p. 227)

Wed Oct 30 Nerva, Trajan

textbook, ch. 11 (up to p. 234)


Mon Nov 4 3rd in class quiz 

Wed Nov 6 Hadrian, Antoninus Pius

text book ch. 11 (up to the end) and ch. 12 (up to p. 256)


WEEK  12

Mon Nov 11   Marcus Aurelius, Commodus

textbook ch. 12 (up to p. 256)


Wed Nov 13 The Severan dynasty

textbook, ch. 12 (up to the end)

Watch the UNESCO video on Lepcis (link available on MyJCU) 

 WEEK 13

Mon Nov 18 The third century crisis and Diocletian 

textbook ch. 13 (to p. 283)


Wed 7 Wed Nov 20 Constantine and the Advent of Christianity

textbook ch. 13 (from p. 284 to the end)


Mon Nov 25

The fall of Roman Western empire and other (his)tories

AK. Goldsworthy, How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower, Yale University Press, 2009. 405-424. (ebook available through Frohring library)

Wed Nov 27 4th in class quiz


Mon Dec 2 Wrap up session

Wed Dec 4   Review for the final