Ides of March, 44 BCE, British Museum

HI205 The Rise of Rome: Overview
MWF 1.25-2.20, TLC201
Prof. Michael Arnush Ladd 209 x5462 Office hours: M 11.15-12.10 Th 1-2

Classics Department Homepage
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 first 500 years of Rome's history - from its foundation by the mythical Romulus, to the domination of the Republic over the Mediterranean world and central Europe, to the Republic's collapse and replacement by the Empire. We will examine such topics as the elegance of Etruscan civilization, Roman relations with foreign nations, social and political institutions, the emergence of Latin literature and the destructive power of partisan politics.

Learning Goals

Students in HI205 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  • read and analyze historical documents within their social contexts and evaluate the role of the individual in ancient cultures;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.