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COURSE NAME: "Rome in the Age of Augustus"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2020

EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 11:30-12:50 PM
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 NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
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 class30%
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/development25%

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 Oct. 9, Oct. 16 and Nov. 13
 1. Tues. Sept. 22       Introduction to the course
 Course requirements, logistics, etc.
Assigned reading:    None
2. Thurs. Sept. 24     Between Republic and Principate: public portraiture
 Veristic Republican portraiture; portraiture of Augustus
Assigned reading:    Familiarity with the syllabus. Zanker 1988: 8-11, 98-100 (Republican and Augustan portrait); Schneider 2008: 279-84 (Augustan image)
Late Republican Rome (2nd-mid 1st cent. BC)
 3. Tues. Sept. 29       Civic space and individual visibility: generals
Elite competition in Rome and strategies of public visibility; impact of art/war spoil; triumphal route; Temple of Hercules of the Muses, Portico of Metellus, Temple of ‘Hercules Victor'
 Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 11-18 (Republican works)
4. Thurs. Oct. 1         Civic space and individual visibility: censors
Elite competition in Rome and strategies of public visibility; elite funeral; Forum Romanum; basilicas; building works of Sulla; concrete technology
Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 18-25 (city and state)
5. Tues. Oct. 6           Singular individual: Pompey
Theatre of Pompey; triumph and culture; building popular support
Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 5-11 (portrait depictions)
6. Thurs. Oct. 8         The perception of Rome and the space of the city
Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 18-25, 25-31 (public and private space)
7. Fri. Oct. 9              Singular individual: Caesar
Forum of Caesar; mythological ancestry; king/not-king status; building popular support
Assigned reading:    Stamper 2005: 90-102 (Forum of Caesar)

 Second Triumvirate (44-30 BC) / Creation of Principate (30-25 BC)

 8. Tues. Oct. 13         Death of Caesar: Political and popular alliances
The second Triumvirate, honors for Caesar, political and family links; divine associations
Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 33-37, 57-65 (triumvirate and rivalries)
9. Thurs. Oct. 15       Marriage alliances: Marriage and family alliances
Octavia, Cleopatra and Livia; honors to Octavia and Livia 35 BC; public portrait depictions of women
Assigned reading:    Hemelrijk 2005: 309-10, 315-16 (honors of 35 BC); Kleiner 1992a: 75-78 (female portraiture)
10. Fri. Oct. 16          Actium victory and settlement of 27 BC
The Actium Battle, triumphal celebrations, settlement of 27 BC; Temple of Divus Julius; depicting Caesar; awards for Augustus; Forum Romanum as an ‘Augustan space'
 Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 79-98 (Forum Romanum, 27 BC settlement); Wallace-Hadrill 1993: 1-9 (Actium as turning-point)
11. Tues. Oct. 20       Octavian/Augustus: The Palatine
House of Augustus, Temple of Apollo Palatine; public and private space of residence
Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 44-53, 85-89 (triumviral rivalries, house of Augustus; Apollo)
12. Thurs. Oct. 22     Octavian/Augustus: Campus Martius
 Mausoleum of Augustus; Pantheon; Saepta Julia; private honor and public space
Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 72-77 (Mausoleum of Augustus)
Early Principate (c. 30-20 BC)
 13. Tues. Oct. 27       Codeswitching and portrait depictions
 Portraiture of Augustus, Agrippa and Livia; statue formats: toga and stola, Fundilia-Eumachia type, Ceres type
Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 98-100, 128-9, 162-66 (portrait, toga, stola)
14. Thurs. Oct. 29     Mid-term exam
Details of exam format can be found on Moodle
15. Tues. Nov. 3        Private in public / for the public: villa and hortus
Villa of Livia at Prima Porta; Villa of the Farnesina; Agrippan building-works on Campus Martius
 Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 25-31, 279-91 (domus and villa)
16. Thurs. Nov. 5      Augustus and elite benefaction in Rome
Circus Flaminius area: Temple of Apollo Sosianus, Portico of Octavius, Portico of Philippus; Portico of Octavia; Theatre of Marcellus; city and urban space
Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 65-71, 143-46 (competitive benefaction)
17. Tues. Nov. 10      23-20 BC: A new settlement and a Parthian victory
A new settlement with the Senate; role of Agrippa; Senatorial depictions of Parthian victory: Statue of Augustus from Prima Porta, Parthian Arch
 Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 79-82, 183-92 (Forum Romanum, Parthian victory)
 18. Thurs. Nov. 12    Historiography in the making: Spolia opima
Augustan depictions of Parthian victory: Parthian standards; Temple of Mars Ultor; Temple of Jupiter Feretrius
Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 101-14 (Forum of Augustus)
Later Principate (23 BC-AD 14)
19. Fri. Nov. 13         Senate as benefactor: The Ara Pacis Augustae
 Ara Pacis Augustae; Priesthoods and neighbourhoods/vici of Rome
 Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 118-23, 172-83 (priesthoods, social participation)
20. Tues. Nov. 17      Time and honor: The Horologium
Campus Martius; Horologium of Augustus
 Assigned reading:    Salzman 2013: 488-92 (calendar); Wallace-Hadrill 1993: 89-96 (saviour, sundial)
21. Thurs. Nov. 19    Livia and elite female benefactors
 Portico of Livia, Building of Eumachia, Statue type for wwomen: Ceres and Large Herculaneum Woman type
 Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 137-39, 320-22 (Portico of Livia, Building of Eumachia)
 22. Tues. Nov. 24      Forum of Augustus – pater patriae
Augustan space and time: Forum of Augustus; paternal role of Augustus
 Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 192-215 (Forum of Augustus)
23. Thurs. Nov. 26    Succession: Gaius, Lucius, Tiberius (and Drusus)
Augustan Forum Romanum; Temple of Concord
 Assigned reading:    Zanker 1988: 110-12, 215-30 (Temple of Concord, Gaius/Lucius, Tiberius/Drusus)
24. Tues. Dec. 1         Rome as world city
City-scape, civic space. The ‘court’ and the ‘power’ of the princeps
Assigned reading:    La Rocca 2015: 89-101 (perception of city space)
 25. Thurs. Dec. 3      Review class  
 Overview and discussion of course content
Assigned reading:    Pose 3-5 questions, based on your revision study, for which you would like clarification and further detail
Tues. Dec. 8               No class
26. Thurs. Dec. 10    Review class
 Overview and discussion of course content
Assigned reading:    Pose 3-5 questions, based on your revision study, for which you would like clarification and further detail
27. Dec. 11-14            Final exam
Date, time and place to be announced