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