ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN • ROME, 400 BCE–600 CE traces cultural developments over a period of a thousand years, from just after the establishment of the Roman Republic up to the fragmentation of the Roman Dominate. We trace the city's expansion from a cluster of huts on the banks of the Tiber River to its emergence as the capital of a vast empire; we trace how Roman culture spread with the conquest of the Mediterranean basin; and we trace how the Romans absorbed certain customs and traditions from those they had defeated.
We focus on what it meant to be both civilized and Roman, and how these identities were continuously reformed in contact and conflict with other societies. We survey various ethnic groups in order to show, on the one hand, how they were incorporated into the empire or else how they resisted and, on the other hand, how these groups demonstrate both the diversity and the uniformity of the Roman world, particularly the uniformity of the urban elite. In addition to Roman definitions of their own culture and values, we consider how outsiders (e.g. Greeks, Judeans) viewed the Romans.
We also focus on power — how Romans consolidated and maintained political, military, ideological and economic control, and how unequal power relations played out within Roman society, namely relations between women and men, between upper and lower classes, between free and slave, between adults and children, and between citizens and foreigners.
The core goals of this class are:
- to acquire factual and conceptual knowledge of the Mediterranean world, encompassing diverse civilizations, with a particular sensitivity to change and continuity over time
- to appreciate the study of antiquity with the analytical skills that archaeologists, historians, and philologists use to research, recover and write about the past
- to develop habits of critical thinking in order to appreciate change and continuity over time, across diverse regions and in contact with diverse cultures
- to become competent and confident in the skills necessary to write about ancient cultures
- to become an independent, intellectual inquirer into the past
This course will treat reading and writing as critical thinking processes; we will remove the mystery and emphasize the mechanics of active reading and persuasive writing. You will learn how–
- to read ancient sources critically
- to refute and/or accommodate opposing viewpoints
- to write with clarity, brevity, and specificity
- to avoid logical fallacies
- to collect, synthesize, and access data systematically, and
- to use this data to reinforce an effective argument