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COURSE NAME: "Rome in the Age of Augustus - HONORS (This course carries 4 semester hours of credits. A minimum CUM GPA of 3.5 is required)"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 3:00-4:15 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. This will be framed by considerations of the character of late Republican art in Rome that forms its immediate context. The course will adopt a broadly chronological format within which particular issues and concerns are explored.


Central is the examination of the articulation and implications of a new political format. This will be explored through investigation of the visual and spatial character of individual public works and urban spaces, as well as of the changing urban topography of the city of Rome as a whole. To this end, the chronological format of the course will facilitate an exploration of the period as one of evolution and experimentation, and of the urban ‘space’ as a setting of evolving exchanges between princeps, elite, and populace.


The aim is to explore both the political engagement with civic space, and the reception and performative implications for the citizen body as viewers and user of this. 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. The aim is 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 in question. The aim is to develop a contextualized appreciation of a multifaceted, cosmopolitan visual culture.


The course will familiarize students with the rhetoric of spaces and styles, and the inherent agency 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 develop powers of expression: Organization of material, contextual and nuanced discussion, focused presentation of data, public speaking and presentation abilities, participation in debates


The course will develop critical thinking and interpretation: Reasoned consideration and evaluation of evidence and methods, interpretation of arguments presented, reflection on context and impact



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  Suggested - not required - to buy Hard Copy  
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 \\\  
Class presentationResearch on a single topic presented to the class20%
Term paperResearch paper, c. 2500 words30%
Mid-term examAnalytical discussion of an individual work and an essay analysing broader issues - based on work done in class20%
Final examAnalytical discussion of an individual work and two essays analysing broader issues - based on work done in class30%
Honors assignment 1Research bibliography for a topic related to late Republican / early Imperial Rome 60%
Honors assignment 2Short analytical paper related to a specific facet of late Republican / early Imperial Rome 40%

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 attend all scheduled classes. Absences and late arrival will be noted and may affect your final grade.

 On-line attendance is permissible only by prior approval. If you join the class on-line you are expected to be present by having your camera on

 You are expected to have dealt with food, drink and bathroom needs before class. During class, please do not leave the classroom except for emergencies

 Use of electronic media (computers, phones, etc.) are not permitted in the class and must be stored in your bag during class time.


Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Students 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. Absences due to conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, etc. will not be excused.


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:

Borg, B. (ed.) (2015) A Companion to Roman Art. Wiley-Blackwell.
Davies, P.J.E. (2018) Constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing civic memory in late Republican Rome. In K. Sandberg and C. Smith (eds), Omnium Annalium Monumenta: Historical Writing and Historical Evidence in Republican Rome: 477-512. Brill.

de Angelis, F. (2021) Decoration and attention in the Forum of Augustus: The agency of ancient imagery between ritual and routine. In A. Haug and M.T. Lauritsen (eds), Principles of Decoration in the Roman World, Decorative Principles in Late Republican and Early Imperial Italy: 15-32. De Gruyter.

Favro, D. (1996) The Urban Image of Augustan Rome. CUP

Fejfer, J. (2008) Roman Portraits in Context. De Gruyter

Fejfer, J. (2015) Statues of Roman women and cultural transmission: Understanding the so-called Ceres statues as a Roman portrait carrier. In J. Fejfer, M. Moltesen and A. Rathje (eds), Tradition. Transmission of Culture in the Ancient World: 85-116. University of Copenhagen.

Flower, H.I. (ed.) (2004) The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic. CUP

Fuchs, W. (2021) New evidence for the design and urban integration of the Forum of Caesar, Forum of Augustus, Curia Julia, and Chalcidicum. Journal of Roman Archaeology 34.2: 511-51.

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

Heslin, P. (2019) The Julian calendar and the solar meridian of Augustus: Making Rome run on time. In M.P. Loar, S.C. Murray and S. Rebeggiani (eds), The Cultural History of Augustan Rome. Texts, Monuments and Topography: 45-79. Cambridge University Press. PA6042 .C85 2019

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

Phillips, D.A. (2014) Reading the landscape of Augustan Rome: Aeneid 1.421-429 and the building program of Augustus. In A.M. Kemezis (ed.), Urbans Dreams and Realities in Antiquity. Remains and Representations of the Ancient City: 229-45. Brill.

Popkin, M.L. (2015) Decorum and the Meanings of Materials in Triumphal Architecture of Republican Rome. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 74.3: 289-311

Rose, C.B. (2008) Forging identity in the Roman republic: Trojan ancestry and veristic portraiture. In S. Bell and I.L. Hansen (eds), Role Models in the Roman World: Identity and Assimilation: 97-132. University of Michigan Press.

Russell, A. (2016) The Politics of Public Space in Republican Rome. Cambridge University Press.  

Russell, A. (2019) Inventing the Imperial Senate. In Josiah Osgood, Kit Morrell and Kathryn Welch (eds), The Alternative Augustan Age: 325-341. Oxford University Press. eBook

Russell, A. (2019b) The Augustan senate and the reconfiguration of time on the Fasti Capitolini. In I: Gildenhard, U. Gotter, W. Havener and L. Hodgson (eds), Augustus and the Destruction of History: 157-86. Cambridge Classical Journal. eBook

Wallace-Hadril, A. (1993) Augustan Rome. Bristol University Press



1. Introduction to the course

Course requirements, logistics, etc.

Assigned reading:    None


2. 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. Civic space and individual visibility: censors

Elite competition in Rome and strategies of public visibility. Historical context; Forum Romanum and basilicas; Palatine: civic markers and concrete technology; elite domus and elite funeral

Assigned reading: Zanker 1988: 18-25 (city and state)


4. Civic space and individual visibility: generals

Elite competition in Rome and strategies of public visibility. Triumphal route and civic space; victory temples and porticoes: Temple of Hercules of the Muses, Portico of Metellus; reception of art as war spoil

Assigned reading: Zanker 1988: 11-18 (Republican works)


5. The space of the city and the rhetoric of materials

The late Republican city; public traditions and urban topography. Building works of Sulla (Capitoline), the Aemilii (basilica, Temple of Hercules), and Mummius (Temple of Hercules); choices of materials

Assigned reading: Popkin 2015: 296-97, 301-6 (materiality); Zanker 1988: 18-25, 25-31 (public and private space)


6. Singular individual: Pompey

Theatre of Pompey, Temple of Hercules; triumph and culture; building popular support. Contested space: Clodius.

Assigned reading: Davies 2018: 490-501 (Pompey and Rome)


7. Singular individual: Caesar

Forum of Caesar; mythological ancestry; king/not-king status; building popular support. Brutus and Cassus and the death of Caesar.

Assigned reading: Stamper 2005: 90-102 (Forum of Caesar)



Second Triumvirate (44-27 BC)


8. Death of Caesar: Political and popular alliances

The second Triumvirate, honors for Caesar, political and family links; divine associations. Battle of Philippi and the role of Agrippa

Assigned reading: Zanker 1988: 33-37, 57-65 (triumvirate and rivalries)


9. Mon. Oct. 3 Octavian/Augustus: The Palatine

House of Augustus, Temple of Apollo Palatine; public and private space of residence; Battle of Naulochus

Assigned reading: Zanker 1988: 44-53, 85-89 (triumviral rivalries, house of Augustus; Apollo)


10. Marriage alliances: Depicting singular women

Octavia, Cleopatra and Livia. Honors to Octavia and Livia 35 BC; public portrait depictions of women. Settlement at Brundisium, Illyrian victory

Assigned reading: Hemelrijk 2005: 309-10, 315-16 (honors of 35 BC); Kleiner 1992a: 75-78 (female portraiture)


11. Actium and Egyptian victories

The Actium victory. Nicopolis and Alexandria; Triple triumph 29 BC, Temple of Divus Julius; depicting the divine Caesar

Assigned reading:Zanker 1988: 79-89 (Forum Romanum); Wallace-Hadrill 1993: 1-9 (Actium as turning-point)


12. Review

Discussion of material addressed in the course to date


13. Mid-term exam



Early Principate (c. 30-20 BC)


14. Reconfiguring the forum and settlement of 27 BC

Settlement of 27 BC and awards for Augustus; Forum Romanum as an ‘Augustan space’, planning The Forum of Augustus

Assigned reading: Zanker 1988: 89-98 (27 BC settlement)


15. Codeswitching and portrait depictions

Portraiture of Augustus, Agrippa and Livia; statue formats: toga and stola, Fundilia-Eumachia statue type

Assigned reading: Zanker 1988: 98-100, 128-9, 162-66 (portrait, toga, stola)


16. Octavian/Augustus: Campus Martius

New spatial focus of Campus Martius. Mausoleum of Augustus; Pantheon; Saepta Julia; ustrinum

Assigned reading: Zanker 1988: 72-77 (Mausoleum of Augustus)


17. Private in public: villa and hortus

Agrippan building works on Campus Martius; Villa of Livia at Prima Porta; Villa of the Papyri; Villa A Oplontis; Villa of the Farnesina

Assigned reading: Zanker 1988: 25-31, 279-91 (domus and villa)


18. 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)


19. 23-20 BC: A new settlement, the Parthian victory and the ‘invention’ of the senate

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)


20. Historiography in the making: Spolia opima

Depictions of Parthian victory: Parthian standards; Temple of Mars Ultor; Temple of Jupiter Feretrius; monopteros temple, Athens

Assigned reading: Zanker 1988: 101-14 (Forum of Augustus)



Later Principate (23 BC-AD 14)


21. Senate as benefactor: The Ara Pacis Augustae

Ara Pacis Augustae; Priesthoods and neighborhoods/vici of Rome

Assigned reading: Zanker 1988: 118-23, 172-83 (priesthoods, social participation)


22. Time and honor: The Horologium

Campus Martius; Horologium of Augustus; consular and triumphal Fasti

Assigned reading: Salzman 2013: 488-92 (calendar); Wallace-Hadrill 1993: 89-96 (saviour, sundial)


23. Livia and elite female benefactors

Portico of Livia, Building of Eumachia, Statue type for women: Ceres and Large Herculaneum Woman types

Assigned reading: Zanker 1988: 137-39, 320-22 (Portico of Livia, Building of Eumachia)


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)


25. 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)


26. 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)





27. Review class 

Overview and discussion of course content


28. Review class

Overview and discussion of course content


29. Final exam

Date, time and place to be announced