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
("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.