Pompeiian fresco, 1st c. AD

MWF 1.25-2.20 (Ladd 307)

Prof. Michael Arnush Ladd 209 x5462
marnush@skidmore.edu Hours: TuW 11


Schedule - Full
Web Resources
Classics Department
Skidmore College

Historia vero testis temporum, lux veritatis, vita memoriae, magistra vitae, nuntia vetustatis .....

"For history is the witness of the past, the light of truth, the survival of memory, the teacher of life, the message of antiquity" (M. Tullius Cicero, de oratore ("On Oratory") 2.36).

What did Cicero mean when he so defined history in his monumental work on oratory and rhetoric? Does history really testify to past events? Does it actually reveal certain truths? How accurately does history preserve the memory of the past? Does it teach us anything, and are we amenable to learn from it? If history is the nuntia vetustatis, the "message of antiquity," which messages does history convey? Cicero's interpretation of the value and meaning of history will guide us as we explore the social, political, economic and artistic contributions of the Romans to western civilization. Using literary, historical and archaeological methodologies, we will examine the thousand years of Rome's history - from its foundation by the mythical Romulus, to its domination over the Mediterranean world and central Europe, to its slow and gradual decline. As we study Rome's storied past, you will develop proficiencies in the details that comprise Roman history and an understanding of such broad topics as the elegance of Etruscan civilization, Roman relations with foreign nations, social and political institutions, imperialism, the golden age of Latin literature, and the spread of Christianity. In the latter part of the semester we shall give special attention to daily life in ancient Italy and the provinces.


Students in HI202 will demonstrate the ability to

  • read and analyze historical documents within their social contexts and evaluate the role of the individual in ancient cultures;
  • develop multi- and cross-cultural perspectives and apply them to gender, ethnic and social issues;
  • read critically and analyze closely literary texts and modern scholarship;
  • present orally - in class discussions - and in written form - on essays and exams - an argument supported by primary and secondary sources;
  • conduct research by traditional and digital methods and produce a research paper at the end of the semester.