Approaching the Roman World

Module code: AH1701

How did Rome transform from an insignificant city state to become the ruler of the world? What role did gods and heroes play in the development of Roman society? What was the deal with all of the crazy emperors?

Everybody knows about the Romans. They conquered the world with their terrifying legions, brought sewers and aqueducts to backwaters like Britain, and spent their free time getting drunk at orgies. This module investigates all of these aspects of Roman civilization, but also looks deeper – at the social and political changes undergone by Rome through its long history, and at the great works of art and literature that survive from the period.

Approaching the Roman World covers thirteen centuries from the mythic foundation of the City in the mid eighth-century BCE to the eclipse of the western empire in the mid-fifth century CE. Along the way we will look at the dramatic conquest of Italy, and the creation of the Republic, at the rise of warlords like Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar to the eventual emergence of Augustus and the foundation of the Roman Empire. We will look at the Empire at its height, and the state as it teetered into collapse. We will examine the material remains of trade, gladiatorial spectacle, coins, and more. And by combining ancient texts and material culture, we’ll introduce you to key academic skills that will allow you to engage with the ancient world and bring it to life.

Material is delivered through a combination of pre-recorded lectures, guided reading, and self-assessment exercises. Assessment for this module comprises a close study of an ancient source, and a research essay that you will write based on a topic from the module that grabbed your imagination.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • The origin myths of Rome
  • Republican systems
  • Italian expansion
  • Hannibal and the Punic Wars
  • Julius Caesar and the first emperors
  • Roman religion
  • The Imperial City
  • Life in the Empire
  • The Severans
  • Barbarian Invasions
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