Roman Civilization

Fall 2009

In this course, we will examine Roman civilization through ancient sources (in translation) and more recent authors. As can be seen in the schedule below, after a historical review, we will look at this civilization by topic, for example, we look at Roman government, the role  of women within society, architecture, and language among other topics.

A primary goal in this course is to examine how we learn about a people such as the Romans. This involves careful assessments of our sources, both ancient and modern. Nothing assigned in this course should be accepted at face value; everything should be read critically. Some of our class discussion, especially early in the course, will be devoted to how we evaluate our sources.  Our sources comprise not just written accounts but painting, archaeological remains, and architecture.


EXAMINATIONS. The examinations will consist of short answers and identifications, and essays, and will be based upon assigned readings and class lecture and discussion. They are all noted and all mentioned on the first day of the course. Make up exams are the RARE exception, not the rule, and are allowed only at the discretion of the instructor; such matters must be arranged in writing no fewer than forty-eight hours in advance of the regularly scheduled exam time. Only extreme, valid, documented emergencies are the exception to this rule. We have an honor code at Southwestern; it has always seemed unfair and not honorable to your instructor that your inability to plan should give you an advantage over other students.  Exam Number I is September 25; Exam Number II is October 23.

TEN-FIFTEEN PAGE PAPER. A 10-15 page paper (paper topic due Sept. 30 , 5 pm, first draft due on October 9, 5 pm, final draft on October 28, 5 pm) is on an ancient work of literature that illustrates aspects of Roman history, culture, or society and is not otherwise assigned in class. The topic is to be selected by the student, and may not be otherwise assigned as one of the course readings; the instructor will provide a list of possible topics. The paper is to be prepared using the a word processing program. Deadlines are firm, and penalties are assessed for each day late (one day ends, and another begins, at 5:00 p.m.): rough draft, 5 points off for each day late off final paper grade; final draft, 10 points off for each day late off final paper grade. Your instructor is cold and cruel, and very strict about these matters. There are no second chances--you know the dates on the first day of class and are to arrange your life according to those dates. From the final draft, ten points deducted for improper or incomplete bibliography; ten points deducted for improper or incomplete bibliography; ten points deducted for improper or incomplete footnotes. Intellectual honesty is a path worth following.

Reading Responses.  Assigned readings marked by * (mostly in Shelton) provide the material for the assignment. Each journal entry is to contain the following:

  1. the name, dates, and origins of the author
  2. a very brief summary of the ancient passage
  3. a short discussion of the nature of the source and its value (or lack of value) in giving us historical, cultural, or societal information.

The responses will be due and graded now and again (see pick up dates in schedule); the first time they are evaluated will be for your information only - hints for improvement, suggestions where additional material is needed, and will have a completion grade. The journal is the part of the course where you and your teacher actually get to talk with one another and where you think about actual Roman literature with no filters; it is your chance to express yourself.

Group PROJECT. Each student will participate in a group project, presented in class. The project is to focus on an aspect of Roman Civilization not covered in lectures or assigned readings. It can take any form you wish--it can be painting, pottery, poetry, an interview with an ancient "personality," or a powerpoint presentation.  The group project approval is due on  October 16 by 5 p.m. (only one person need enter it); the group projects are the week of Nov. 9-13.  The material in the group projects will be included on the final exam. MAKE SURE YOU MAKE SOME KIND OF COPY ON SOME KIND OF PHYSICAL THING--DO NOT ASSUME THAT YOUR ELECTRONIC WORK CAN BE READ BY EVERY MACHINE.  You may hand it in earlier!

Class participation, attendance. The final factor is class participation and attendance. The Southwestern University Catalog states "Southwestern University considers class attendance to be an essential component of its educational mission. Students are expected to attend all regularly scheduled classes, laboratories, studios, rehearsals. etc. for which credit is granted."  In order to get the full credit of class participation, you have to be there--get the full class participation grade!!!!.

The normal expectation is that students will be at every class, for one cannot participate in absentia! Participation also involves preparation of homework assignments before class. Participation will be assessed not so much on quantity as on quality.

Students should feel free to express their OWN opinions. Roman civilization, like all ancient civilizations, is understood only partly--much is missing and we make reasoned assumptions as to the rest. The important thing to keep in mind is to be respectful of each other, our classmates, and the ancient Romans. Students should feel free to express opinions on various matters related to the course and to ask questions. The SU Academic Rights for Students bears repeating here: "Faculty members should encourage free thought and expression both in the classroom and out. Students are entitled to disagree with interpretation of data or views of a faculty member and reserve judgment in matters of opinion, but this disagreement does not excuse them from learning the content of any course for which they a re enrolled or from demonstrating skills and competencies required by a faculty member. Students should be evaluated solely on academic performance."

Accommodation Policy: "Southwestern University will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Students should provide documentation and schedule an appointment with the Academic Services Coordinator (Cullen Hall Rm 336; 863-1536) at least two weeks before services are needed. In each class where a student requests academic accommodations, the student must meet with the faculty member teaching the course at least one week prior to the requested accommodation."

Work outside of class. Students may study together in preparation for daily classes and for exams--please feel free to discuss ANY reading material. Students are not permitted to share responsibilities for the preparation of written assignments (as in the paper or the actual reading responses). While the instructor has no control over test files and paper files, students should be aware that content and methodological approaches change each time that the course is offered. It is crystal clear from past experience that reliance on such files is detrimental to one's grade.

The Inscription reads:



Note: Make-up exams are the exception, and not the rule, and will not be granted automatically. Make-ups must be arranged no fewer than forty-eight hours with the instructor in advance of the regularly scheduled time, and will be given (or not) at the discretion of the instructor.

Final Grades. The plus and minus grading system will be used for final grades. Semester % averages will translate to the following letter grades:


The plus and minus grading system in effected at Southwestern will be used for final grades. The ancients were absolute giants in terms of math, science, and natural philosophy unlike your merely mortal instructor. If you feel that the grades have been averaged incorrectly, please do not hesitate to contact the instructor. Semester percentage averages will translate to the following letter grades (anything below 60 if a failure):

Grade Inclusive % Range GPA POINTS
A+ 96.7-100 4.00
A 93.4-96.6 4.00
A- 90.0-93.3 3.67
B+ 86.7-89.9 3.33
B 83.4-86.6 3.00
B- 80.0-83.3 2.67
C+ 76.7-79.9 2.33
C 73.4-76.6 2.00
C- 70.0-73.3 1.67
D+ 66.7-69.9 1.33
D 63.4-66.6 1.00
D- 60.0-63.3 0.67







Week 1

 Pre Imperial History  World, pp. 3-13, *Shelton #1.  We will discuss the first Shelton reading in class, plus you are to respond to it on seque in "reading responses"

Image List
Map List

Romulus, Remus, Rome Foundation


Discussion of sources, Shelton #1

Italy in Bronze Age and Early Iron Age




Arno and Tiber Rivers


Romulus and Remus

Unusual foundation myth; myth no earlier than contact with the Greeks

Possible historical connections:

Samnites, Etruscans, Gauls joined together against Rome's expansion 296 BC; same year monument which held statue of infants beneath she-wolf; in 295 BC Battle of Sentium and Temple of Victory in Rome built--excavations (AD 1981) reveal possible human sacrifice

Map, Mediterranean world

Palatine, Rome, reconstruction of Early Iron Age hut settlement (BP pl. 7)

Rome, Palatine (sw side), foundations of hut in Early Iron Age settlement (BP pl. 8)

She-Wolf with Romulus and Remus, Pallazo dei Conservatori, Rome (Frankfort 598)



Rome under the Monarchy

Archaeological Dates:

1000-900 Latial Culture I (generic correspondance to Italian cultures)

900-800 LCII.A

830-770 LCII.B

770-740 LCIII.A. (transitional phase)

740-720 LCIII.B

720-620 LCIV.A (closely connected to Etruscan culture)

620-580 LCIV.B

Traditional dates and Traditional Accomplishments:

1 ab urbe condita (753 BC in our counting), Romulus

  • Numa Pompilius, traditionally dated 715-672 BC, Sabine
  • Tullius Hostilius, Latin
  • Ancus Marcius

Demaratus (7th c.) of Corinth, Greece, moved to Etruria, married local princess, fathered:

  • Lucius Tarquinius Priscus (king 616-578 BC), Etruscan, wife Tanaquil

Circus Maximus; walls; T. of Jupiter Capitoline

  • Servius Tullius (578-534) introduction of centuries, urban tribes, completed city wall, had curia, now also asssembly of century, common Latin shrine, treaties, Regia rebuilt, *fictional nature of his character; archaeological difficulties with date wall
  • Tarquinius Superbus (534-510 BC)

Latin League; Lucretia


Whatever truth of kings, their names and numbers as well as their accomplishments, what they were said to achieve fits well within the broader context of developments of city-states and architecture within Italy


509 First year of Republic (Lars Porsenna took Rome around 508-507 BC)

  • introduction of consuls
  • creation of rex sacrorum
  • law of appeal
  • law against kingship
  • rebuilding, rededication of Temple of Capitoline Gods

Rome Expands

Veii (396 BC)

Gauls (387 BC)

Consul share power 367; plebs allowed consuls 342




Week 2

PreImperial History
World, pp. 31-39
Image List
Map List


Empire and Internal Conflict


How Rome Conquered Italy

  • Etruscan conflict started after ouster of Tarquinius Superbus; ended with final conflict against Veii in 396; Veii made into a colonia, citizens sold into slavery, land became public land)
  • Latin League; association or federation of cities in Latium known from about 550 from archaeological evidence at sanctuary at Lavinium in Latium; Rome defeated cities and took them in alliance with itself; unusual for its time to have intermarriage, commercial interchange, and ability to move citizenship--Rome used similar concepts when establishing control over rest of Italy
  • Conquered Italy through "defensive imperialism," take over land, cities had direct relationship with Rome and not with each other; increasing Romanization of Italy, Road begun as in famous Via Appia in 343; Italian cities once in alliance with Rome given all rights but right to vote; society with classes as in Rome; served in army
  • Final push in Italy against King Pyrrhus of Epirus who in 281 answered call from Greek city of Tarentum; he defeated Romans in a "Pyrrhic victory," and left; by 264 Romans had conquered all of Italy.

Victory in the West

First Punic War (264-241)--gained Sicily and war idemnity; took Sardinia

Second Punic War (218-201)--consequences were: in conquered area lost land, lost rights often settlement of poor or veterans in conquered area; increasingly professionalization of army; phonemonal amount of wealth in Rome; in 197, as Carthage weak, Rome annexed Spain as a province in which governor had absolute power (note this is the same year as the defeat of Philip V at Cynocephelae and end of Macedonia)

Third Punic War (149-146)--end of Carthage, same year as Corinth destroyed

Victory in the East

Macedonia destroyed in 197 BC (end of Alexander's Empire), war against Philip V

Roman Flaminius in 196 "Freedom of the Greeks"

Aetolian League in Greece intrigued with Eastern Greek kings

Last king of Macedonia, Perseus, lost battle of Pydna 168--Macedonia into 4 provinces, hundreds of thousands of Greek hostages and slaves.

146 (same year Carthage destroyed) Corinth, leading commercial city of Greece destroyed and plundered; end of Greece as a viable commercial power; in 133 the Anatolian (modern day Turkey) vast kingdom of Pergamon willed to Romans


Commemorative Altar

Influence of Greek world (way of life, art, music, literature, theater, philosophy, wealth) on Roman world




Conflict within Rome

Social structure consisted of patricians with power and restricted membership; an equites class (not patricians and not the middle class, some fabulously wealthy, some poor), and the plebians; pre-Imperial period consists of a jostling and a redefinition of membership and of powers of each group

450 first laws codified (the Twelve Tables)

Four simultaneous "governing" bodies: 2 consuls and dictator in extreme circumstances; senate (restricted access, advisory), comitia curiata (assembly of people as tribes), comitia centuriata (the old army assembly) and the comitia tributa after 494; get a tribune of the plebes after 447

The Gracchi brothers--problems of land ownership, rights of plebes, right to vote for Italians in Italy

Tiberius Gracchus, 133 BC

Gaius Gracchus in 122 BC




Marius, Civil War, and Sulla (consul in 88 BC)  


Week 3

Imperial History
World, pp. 49-70

Imperial Rome

Caesar Augustus

His Successors, the Julio-Claudian Emperors

Tiberius, 14-37

Gaius, 37-41 (aka Calligula)


Nero, 54-68

The Flavian Emperors

Vespasain, 69-79

Titus, 79-81

Domitian, 81-96

Nerva, 96-98

Trajan, 98-117

Hadrian, 117-138

The Antonine Emperors

Antoninus Pius, 138-161

Marcus Aurelius, 161-180

Commodus, 180-192

The Severan Emperors

Septimius Severus, 193-211

Caracalla, 212-217

Elagabalus, 218-222

Severus Alexander, 222-235

Aurelian, 270-275

Diocletian, 284-305

Constantine, 312-337


Week 4

Monday, September 14 Princeps and imperator World, pp. 83-111

Do these in your reading responses and BE PREPARED TO DISCUSS THEM!!!  All the entries until the first exam are to be put under "reading response" one tab.  Do not use Vista or the like as it is nearly unreadable in the reading response section.
Unfortunately, copied text from Word carries with it all of the code to make the pasted text a web page. This extra code interferes with Segue's presentation of the page. Some of the "symptoms" of pasted Word text into a Discussion is the text body doesn't show or the text is really wide or the rest of the posts on that page don't show. And, as an FYI - this is not a Segue only problem - and the "challenge" from pasted Word text has become more of a problem with the newer versions of Word. Here a couple of suggestions:

When creating a Post or Replying to a Post
  • on the Segue tool bar above the text editor, click on the far right tool on the top row - its looks like a little blue W over a clipboard - paste the copied text from Word into the text area and choose OK. This usually removes some/all of the formatting from the text.
  • use another program to copy the text from. If it is Word, you can try using OpenOffice - an open source alternative to MS Office for both Mac and Windows.
  • enter text into a plain editor, such as Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac) and copy the plain text into Segue
  • enter the text directly into Segue - make sure you save about every 5-10 minutes

Please help your fellow scholars by doing this.  You help yourself too because sometimes part or all of your text will go missing! 
Wednesday, September 16 Governing Rome World, pp.112-139
Friday, September 18
Society and Religion I,
The Cosmopolis
Brief discussion of Group Projects
World, pp.140-168
*Shelton #321, 322, 323
These three entries are longer than those we have read previously.



Week 5

Monday September 21


*Shelton #198, 199, 203, 206, 210
Wednesday, September 23 Society and Religion III, Slavery    
Reading responses must be completed (including answers to my questions to YOU) BY 5pm; submitted on seque
Friday, September 25




Week 6

Monday, September 28
this one "web handout" is for all religion lectures
Religion IV *Shelton #405, 407, 408, 419, 423, 426, 427, 429, 432
You may group some of these together if that makes it easier for you to submit your responses; some may not be immediately understandable, but will become clear so you may want to add to these
Wednesday, September 30
Religion V *Shelton #446,447, 449
Friday, October 2 Religion VI *Shelton #434, 435, 437, 439

Week 7

Monday, October 5

Questions we will discuss:

  1. compare the inscription from end of 1st c/ p. 181, section 268 with the description of the small freeholder p. 184, section 271.  What are differing interpretations?
  2. Land, p. 185, section 272, played two crucial roles, the "necessary," and the "social value."  What are these roles?
  3. Terms:  mundinae, macellum, denarii, argentarii, negotiators who make negotia, forum.
  4. How does the client-patron system work in production and consumption?
  5. Is there Imperial intervention?
  6. What is the role of slaves in production and consumption, look at p. 205; were you puzzled or infuriated?
Production, Consumption, Technology World, pp. 181-207  
Wednesday, October 7
Technology Reading Assignment: Why did the Ancients Not Develop Technology?
Friday, October 9
First draft of paper due; no electronic copies allowed; by 5 p.m.

Roman family, Roman Women World, pp. 208-234, *Shelton #325, 330  

Week 8

Monday, October 12

Wednesday, October 14

Roman Women Reading Assignment: Selections From Women's Life in Roman World
Friday, October 16 Roman Women

GROUP PROJECT SUBMIT FORM DUE BY 5 p.m. on seque--only one person per group need submit the form, however,--feel free to write it out on paper and drop it by MoodBridwell 223 by 5 pm if you find segue unavailable, intimidating, or the like!
Shelton:  look over carefully, do NOT, REPEAT NOT, write in your responses:  55, 59, 61, 62


Week 9

Monday, October 19
Roman Mind
Education I
World, pp. 235-241
*Shelton #134, 135

Wednesday, October 21 Roman Mind
Education II
Shelton *143, 145, 152, 153, 154, 157, 160 (THE RESPONSES can be really quick here--this is more directed writing, as I discussed in class--focus on the effect of the system of education)  READING RESPONSES due by 5 pm  
Friday, October 23



Week 10

Monday, October 26 The Roman Mind

Philosophy I and II

World, pp. 241-260
Shelton STOICS:*466, 467, 469, 470, 471
EPICUREANISM (Lucretius' excerpts): *460, 461, 462, 463, 464, 465
(group these together in your journal by author)
Wednesday, October 28
Roman Literature I;

Paper Due by 5 p.m.; no electronic submissions; make sure it has footnotes and bibliography
Take TO MOOD-BRIDWELL 223 or bring it to class.

There are NO EXCEPTIONS TO THE "NO ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION" RULE, SO DO NOT ASK FOR ONE.  For instructions concerning the paper, look under "requirements" section under "introduction" header in segue.
World, pp. 262-286  
Friday, October 30
Roman Literature II

Due to class discussion, paper is now due today preferably at 11 am or by 5 pm in MoodBridwell 223.


Get to it on the reading assignment section of segue.

Week 11

Monday, November 2 Roman Art and Architecture, architecture I

World, pp. 287-316
Study pictures
Shelton #79, 97

Wednesday, November 4

Roman Art and Architecture, architecture II

Study Pictures
Friday, November 6
Roman Art and Architecture, Painting I Learn Pictures

Week 12

Monday, November 9 GROUP PROJECTS I Will be on final exam!

Wednesday, November 11 GROUP PROJECTS II

Will be on final exam!

Friday, November 13 GROUP PROJECTS II.v


learn images

Week 13

Monday, November 16 Medicine I Fabulous Website!!  
Wednesday, November 18

Medicine II *Shelton 111, 112, 114, 115, 118  
 Friday, November 20,

lecture notes
Bread and Circuses I    

Week 14

Monday, November 23
Bread and Circuses II *Shelton #377, 378, 379, 380, 382, 391, 392, 396, 397--treat these responses VERY BRIEFLY  

Week 15

Monday, November 30
on which we will actually do:

Friday, December 4

Later Roman History; Questions
1.  "The government of the period has sometimes been called a tetrarchy (rule by four), but Diocletian was always the dominant force."  What is the tetrarchy that Diocletian (284-305) established?  How did it differ from the empire under Septimius Severus?
2.  "Although Diocletian's contributions to Roman resurgence were substantial, not all of his reforms succeeded."  What were some of Diocletian's failures?  What didn't work?
3.  What is the significance of the Battle of the Mulvian Bridge?  What changed after  that battle?
4.  "Although in his early career he had benefited from political unrest, Constantine the Great became an agent of reform and stability."  What reforms did he enact?  What effects did they have?
5.  In the period following Constantine's death (337), "in history great men are rare, but even so, the period after Constantine seems remarkably deficient in that respect" and "Barbarian invasions simply came too frequently and with greater force than in earlier periods" say our authors.  Do you find this a reasonable assessment of the fourth century?
6. In the section "causes of Rome's fall," the authors list the different centuries at which Rome's decline is supposed to have begun.  Your choices are:  1. the beginning; its problems inherent with its very nature, 2. 180, after Marcus Aurelius based on changes in art and loss of  eastern territory, 3.  Third century, with the third century crisis inherent in the many emperors murdered one after another, and 4.  after 395, since Constantine held the  empire together and the intellectuals of the day do not point to the "end of times."  Which time frame do you favor?

Wednesday, December 2
Petronius' Satyricon:  This reading assignment is on "Reading Assignments," it's short and fun! Gives you great insights into Roman culture, but it is in pdf form.

FINAL RESPONSES DUE, 5 p.m.  Any material left out by that hour will be subtracted from your final grade--it's a wonderful way to learn the material for the course, think about it, make it your own, study for the final, so please complete all the responses!

Last Day of Class, Friday, Dec. 4
Petronius' Satyricon continued; Review. 

OUR FINAL IS SCHEDULED FROM 8:30--11:30 am on Wednesday, December 12 in our room.