Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

ClSt 308 / Hist 308 / ROST 308 - A History of Rome to Constantine

Spring 2012

Roma Aeterna, the Eternal City, umbilicus mundi, the navel of the world… Which nobody can deny! The most glorious and marvelous of glorious and marvelous cities once began as a small settlement along the banks of the river Tiber – according to legend founded by Romulus and Remus, on the 21st of April of the year 753 BC. It grew to become the capital of one of the largest empires the world has ever seen. Kings, consuls and emperors have ruled the city and its empire throughout the centuries. The city of Rome became the center of power, wealth, and culture.

After centuries of expansion, the Roman Republic was gradually transformed into an empire, with an emperor on the throne. Octavian (also known as Augustus) supposedly ‘restored’ the Republic, but effectively became the first Roman emperor. Rome flourished! Huge temples were built to honor the gods, not to forget the ‘divine’ emperors themselves. Enormous public structures and buildings were being put up. Literature and poetry, architecture, the arts… All reached higher, even the highest levels of perfection. Rhetoric and politics were closely connected throughout all of Roman history, including the time during the Empire – when public speaking seemed to have been less relevant, seeing that the emperors hardly allowed for political maneuvering space for others. Roman law developed, and became a relatively sophisticated system of rules and regulations. Religion was a determining factor for practically everything in Roman society, hence a crucial feature of daily life. Even with the arrival of Christianity one could argue that almost all things continued as before. Most of all: Rome remained the center of the world. Until today…

            Perhaps as no other city in the world, Roma Aeterna has left her mark on Western civilization. As no other city in the world, ‘She’ speaks to the imagination: as it has been in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end…!


Course Abstract

The key objective of this course is to survey the history of Ancient Rome, from its earliest beginnings, the kings of Rome, through the military, political and cultural triumphs of the Roman Republic (the expansion in Italy, as well as the entire Mediterranean world and beyond), to the culmination into the Empire (the crisis and the fall of the Republic, the rise of Augustus, the High Empire, and the period of Late Antiquity). Not an easy task, as one of the main problems concerning the studies of Rome and of the Ancient World in general is always one of evidence. We rely on biased, and often fragmented literary sources, sometimes written centuries after the actual events they are describing. Archaeology and epigraphy supplement the literary evidence, but also provide information that stands completely on its own. All the evidence has to be weighed with extreme care and consideration.

Throughout this course, a series of lectures and seminars, we shall attack some of the major issues in the study of ancient Roman society and culture. History is never a single-minded and uniform matter. The various contributions of numerous scholars, next to our main text of Le Glay, Voisin, and Le Bohec, are all intended to stimulate our own minds to ask further questions, and to start thinking into only few of all the possible directions towards possible answers – or mere hypotheses. Primary sources, as well as secondary literature from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, reveal the drama of Roman history, society, politics, and culture. These texts, both ancient and modern, contribute to our awareness of the cultural tradition in which we ourselves also stand.


Procedures and Policies

The History of Rome meets twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 09:30 until 10:45. It is expected of students to contribute in a significant way to this course. They are responsible for completing all of the assigned readings, according to the schedule attached to this syllabus.

This course has no prerequisites and assumes no prior knowledge of ancient Roman history, or indeed of the Latin language. It is intended that students acquire a basic knowledge and understanding of the historical background and facts of ancient Rome, as well as that of the working of historical mechanisms.


Attendance and Assessment

Attendance is mandatory. The success of each session depends to a considerable extent on the students’ presence, as well as on their preparation and participation.

Final grade assessments will be based on the combination of two exams, one mid-term and one final, and one large essay (10-15 pages) concerning a topic of free choice and based on primary sources and secondary literature. A small percentage of the students’ grade will be derived from attendance and participation. Students opting for an Honors Contract will be given extra assignments.

It is strongly recommended to take notes, both when reading and listening. These notes are an indispensable part of studying and learning, often the best means to anchor your thoughts with true understanding, transform opinion into knowledge, and establish comprehension rooted in memory. Writing is learning – with half as much effort.


Exam and essay assignments

The 2 (TWO) exams will be tests of your acquired knowledge and understanding of the book by Le Glay et al., as well as the topics dealt with in the additional secondary literature. The book provides a general outline of the developments of Roman history, society and culture. The facts and the various backgrounds of events, both in time and throughout the Roman world, are the framework of any basic historical understanding and mode of thinking.

As far as the essay is concerned, it is strongly recommended to start thinking of a suitable topic, including (some of) the appropriate material, right at the beginning of the course. In any case will you be summoned for a consult the week before mid-term, in order to establish an outline of the final essay. Essays count between 10-15 pages.

Information MUST under all circumstances be cited. Plagiarism of any sort will result in a grade of “F” for the assignment, or, depending on the level, perhaps even for the entire course.


Essay Grading

Written work, and to a certain extent also the final exam, meriting the grade of “A” (excellent) must:

  • address the assigned question or topic directly and intelligently;
  • demonstrate a careful and considered reading of the texts at hand;
  • present a lucid thesis and a persuasive argument in its defense;
  • use correct grammar, punctuation, and sentence construction;
  • make ample and appropriate use of quotations from the texts;
  • weave together thesis and argument, quotations and interpretations;
  • reveal thoughtfulness, originality and insight.

Written work and examinations awarded the grade of “B” (good) adequately fulfill a majority of these criteria, with areas of improvement indicated by grading remarks and comments.

The grade of “C” (average) is given when written work and examinations fail to meet most criteria, therefore indicating to the student that an appointment should be made with the professor, before the next essay assignment, to discuss methods for improvement.

Finally, the grade of “D” is assigned to written work and examinations that are simply unacceptable, according to the criteria outlined above, in which case an appointment must be made with the professor and arrangements determined for re-submitting the assignments in an acceptable form.


            Grading Percentages:


            Mid-term Examination             30%

            Final Examination                                            30%

            Final Essay                                                                  30%


            Presence / Participation                        10%


Students who wish to request a review of the final course grade must provide original versions of all their graded  course assignments.



·                    M. Le Glay, J.-L Voisin, & Y. Le Bohec, A History of Rome (4th edition; Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2009)

·                    Reader.


Course Program

Week 1:           Ab Vrbe Condita – Origins and Formation of Rome

·                    M. Le Glay, J.-L Voisin, & Y. Le Bohec, A History of Rome (4th edition; Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2009), 5-39.

Week 2:           The Roman Republic – The First Centuries

Primary sources

·                    ‘The Twelve Tables, 449 BC’, in: Naphtali Lewis and Meyer Reinhold (eds.), Roman Civilization. Selected Readings. Vol. 1: The Republic and the Augustan Age (3rd edition; New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), 107-116.

·                    Polybius, Histories, VI.xi.1-xiii.8.

Secondary literature

·                    Le Glay, et al. (2009), 43-72.

·                    Walter Eder, ‘The political significance of the codification of law in archaic societies: an unconventional hypothesis’, in: Kurt A. Raaflaub (ed.), Social Struggles in Archaic Rome. New Perspectives on the Conflict of the Orders (2nd edition; Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005, 239-267.

·                    Mark Toher, ‘The Tenth Table and the Conflict of the Orders’, in: Raaflaub (2005), 268-292..

Week 3:           The Roman Republic – Development and Expansion

Primary sources

·                    Polybius, Varia.

·                    Livy, Varia.

Secondary literature

·                    Le Glay, et al. (2009), 73-120.

·                    J.W. Rich, ‘The origins of the Second Punic War’, in T. Cornell, B. Rankov, and P. Sabin (eds.), The Second Punic War: a Reappraissal (London, 1996), 1-37.

·                    T.J. Cornell, ‘Hannibal’s Legacy: the effects of the Hannibalic War on Italy’, in T.J. Cornell, B. Rankov, and P. Sabin (eds.), The Second Punic War: a Reappraissal (London, 1996) 97-117.

·                    S.L. Dyson, Community and Society in Roman Italy (Baltimore/London, 1992), 23-55.

Week 4:           The Roman Republic – Democracy “alla Romana”

Primary sources

·                    Q. Tullius Cicero, Commentariolum petitionis. Translation in D. Cherry (ed.), The Roman World. A Sourcebook (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2001), 107-118.

Secondary literature

·                    Le Glay, et al. (2009), 123-184.

·                    F. Millar, ‘The political character of the classical Roman Republic, 200 – 151 B.C.’, Journal of Roman Studies 74 (1984), 1-19.

·                    _______, ‘Politics, persuasion and the people before the Social War (150 – 90 B.C.)’, Journal of Roman Studies 76 (1986), 1-11.

·                    J.A. North, ‘Democratic politics in republican Rome’, Past and Present 126 (1990), 3-21.

·                    K.-J. Hölkeskamp, ‘The Roman republic: government of the people, by the people, for the people?’, Scripta Classica Israelica 19 (2000), 203-233.

Week 5:           The Roman Empire – The Birth of Empire

Primary sources

·                    C. Iulius Caesar, De Bell. Civ., I.7-33. Translated, with an introduction and notes by J.M. Carter (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997)

·                    Res Gestae Divi Avgvsti. Edited and translated, with an introduction and commentary, by P.A. Brunt and J.M. Moore (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967)

Secondary literature

·                    Le Glay, et al. (2009), 189-256.

·                    R. Syme, The Roman Revolution (2nd edition; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952), 47-77.

·                    Z. Yavetz, ‘The Res Gestae and Augustus’ public image’, in: F. Millar and E. Segal (eds.), Caesar Augustus. Seven Aspects (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), 1-36.

Week 6:           The Roman Empire – Growth and Consolidation

Primary sources

·                    Tacitus, Annales 1.1-15. Translation in D. Cherry (ed.), The Roman World. A Sourcebook (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2001), 118-125.

·                    Suetonius, Caligula. Translation in Cherry (2001), 133-139.

Secondary literature

·                    Le Glay, et al. (2009), 259-317.

·                    F. Millar, ‘Emperors at work’, in Journal of Roman Studies 57 (1967), 9-19; reprinted in idem, Government, Society, and Culture in the Roman Empire. Rome, the Greek World, and the East, vol. 2. Edited by H.M. Cotton & G.M. Rogers (Chapel Hill/London: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 3-22.

·                    F. Millar, ‘State and subject: the impact of monarchy’, in: F. Millar and E. Segal (eds.), Caesar Augustus. Seven Aspects (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), 37-60.

Week 7:           The Roman Empire – Rome and its Provinces

Primary sources

·                    M. Tullius Cicero, Ep. ad Quintum fratrem 1.1.8-35. Translation in Cherry (2001), 156-162.

·                    British Museum Papyrus 1912. Translation in Cherry (2001), 162-164.

·                    Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum I.594. Translation in Cherry (2001), 164-166.

·                    Aelius Aristides, To Rome. Translation in Cherry (2001), 167-172.

Secondary literature

·                    Le Glay, et al. (2009), 321-403.

·                    C. Ando, Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire (Berkeley/Los Angeles/London: University of California Press, 2000), 277-335.

Week 8:           The Roman Empire – Religion

Primary sources

·                    Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 2.67. Translation in Cherry (2001), 214-215.

·                    Plutarch, Life of Romulus 21.3-5. Translation in Cherry (2001), 215.

·                    Cato, De Agricultura / On Agriculture 139-141. Translation in Cherry (2001), 215-216.

·                    Augustine, De Civitate Dei / City of God 4.8. Edited and translated by William M. Green.. LCL 412 (London/Cambridge, Mass.: Heinemann/Harvard University Press, 1978)

·                    Apuleius, Metamorphoses 11.8-23. Edited and translated by J. Arthur Hanson. LCL 453 (London/Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989)

·                    Minucius Felix, Octavius. Translation in Cherry (2001), 221-223.

·                    Tacitus, Annales 15.44. Translation in Cherry (2001), 224.

·                    Pliny, Epistulae 10.96-97. Translation in Cherry 2001), 224-226.

·                    Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 5.1-31. Edited and translated by Kirsopp Lake. LCL 153 (London/Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992)

Secondary literature

·                    Le Glay, et al. (2009), 407-435.

·                    J.A. North, Roman Religion. Greece and Rome: New Surveys in the Classics, 30 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 21-43, 54-75.

·                    M. Beard, J.A. North, and S.F.R. Price, Religions of Rome. 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998; reprinted 2000), 348-363.

·                    J.E. Lendon, Empire of Honor. The Art of Government in the Roman World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997; reprinted 2001), 160-172.

Week 9:           The Later Roman Empire – the “Third Century Crisis”

Primary sources

·                    Herodian, 7.4-9. Edited and translated by C.R. Whittaker. LCL 455 (London/Cambridge, Mass.: Heinemann/Harvard University Press, 1970)

                     SHA, Gordiani Tres. Edited and translated by D.Magie. LCL 140 (London/Cambridge, Mass.: Heinemann/Harvard University Press, 1980)

·                    Cyprian of Carthage, Ad Demetrianum. Translated by R.J. Deferrari (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1981), 167-191.

·                    The Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs, in: H. Musurillo (ed. & transl.), Acts of the Christian Martyrs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), 86-89.

·                    The Martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas, in: Musurillo (1972), 106-131.

·                    The Martyrdom of Saints Agapê, Irenê, and Chionê at Saloniki, in: Musurillo (1972), 280-293.

Secondary literature

·                    Le Glay, et al. (2009), 441-477.

·                    G. Alföldy, ‘The crisis of the third century as seen by contemporaries’, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 15 (1974), 89-111.

·                    J.B. Rives, ‘The decree of Decius and the religion of empire’, Journal of Roman Studies 89 (1999), 135-154.

·                    G.E.M. de Ste. Croix, ‘Why were the early Christians persecuted’, in M.I. Finley (ed.), Studies in Ancient Society (London, 1974), 210-248.

Week 10:         The Later Roman Empire – Constantine the Great and Christianity

Primary sources

·                    Eusebius, Vita Constantini / Life of Constantine XXVII-XXXIII. Translated, with introduction and commentary by Averil Cameron and Stuart G. Hall (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)

·                    Constantine, ‘Laws for Christians’. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall - Internet Medieval Sourcebook.

·                    Constantine, ‘On the keeping of Easter’. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall - Internet Medieval Sourcebook.

Secondary literature

·                    Le Glay, et al. (2009), 477-502.

·                    P. Brown, Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity. Towards a Christian Empire (Madison, WI.: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1992), 118-158.

·                    G. Clark, Christianity and Roman Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 78-117.

Week 11:         The Later Roman Empire – Pagans and Christians

Primary sources

·                    Ambrose, Epistulae/Letters XVII-XVIII. Translated by Sister Mary Melchior Beyenka (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1954; reprinted 2001)

·                    Symmachus, Relatio III.

Secondary literature

·                    Le Glay, et al. (2009), 525-544.

·                    Alan Cameron, ‘The last pagans of Rome’, in: W.V. Harris (ed.), The Transformations of Verbs Roma in Late Antiquity. JRA Supplementary Series 33 (Portsmouth, RI., 1999), 109-121.

·                    J.F. Matthews, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court AD 364-425 (Oxford, 1975), 1-31; 183-222.

Week 12:         The Later Roman Empire – Decline and Fall?

Primary sources

·                    Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae / Histories, XIV.vi.3-26. Edited and translated by J.C. Rolfe. LCL 300 (Cambridge, Mass./London: Harvard University Press/Heinemann, 1935; repr. 1982)

·                    Victor of Vita, History of the Vandal Persecution 1.1-51. Translated with notes and introduction by John Moorhead (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1992)

Secondary literature

·                    Le Glay, et al. (2009), 547-557.

·                    C. Lepelley, ‘The survival and fall of the classical city in Late Roman Africa’, in: J.W. Rich (ed.), The City in Late Antiquity (London: Routledge, 1992), 50-76.

·                    S. Raven, Rome in Africa (3rd edition; London: Routledge, 1993), 196-208.

·                    Averil Cameron, ‘Vandal and Byzantine Africa’, in: Averil Cameron, Bryan Ward-Perkins, Michael Whitby (eds.), The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 14. Late Antiquity: Empire and Successors, A.D. 425-600 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 552-569.

·                    A. Schwarcz, ‘The settlement of the Vandals in North Africa’, in: A.H. Merrills (ed.), Vandals, Romans and Berbers. New Perspectives on Late Antique North Africa (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2004, 49-57.

·                    F.M. Clover, ‘The symbiosis of Romans and Vandals in Africa’, in: E. Chrysos and A. Schwartz (eds.), Das Reich und die Barbaren. Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung 29 (Vienna/Cologne, 1989), 57-73.