This course will survey the history, archaeology, and literature of the ancient Roman world through profiles of important Romans. We will explore the lives of these generals, kings, senators, emperors, and aristocrats to understand the eras in which they lived. Our material will focus both on the famous (such as Julius Caesar, Nero, Hadrian, and Constantine) as well as the more obscure but still interesting Romans (including fraternal revolutionaries Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, the dictator Sulla, the 3rd-century emperor Gallienus, and the powerful women who safeguarded the patrician Cornelius family).
Through these personages, we will see how Rome grew from a tiny village of mud huts clustered atop hills along the Tiber River into an empire controlling land and people across all of Europe, from Spain to the Near East and from Britain to the shores of the Sahara. Readings will include primary Roman sources (in translation) and biographies written by the subjects’ contemporaries. Excerpts from modern works will also be integrated into our study.