RCHUMS 315 - Representations of History in the Literature and Visual Arts of Rome
Section: 001
Term: WN 2009
Subject: RC Humanities (RCHUMS)
Department: LSA Residential College
Requirements & Distribution:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course will examine the way in which Romans of the imperial period represented to themselves their history and their Empire. These writers hesitated between different narrative models. Was the Empire divinely ordained as a quasi-aesthetic unfolding of episodes with an origin, a trajectory and a final destiny? Or was it a concatenation of random events? Different narrative models provided different opportunities for the writer’s personal engagement, from vigorous participation to philosophic detachment. Writers did more than gather and arrange information; at times they were forced to confront their own direct implication in the events they described. Opportunities for pride are always welcome, but how does one deal with a story of shame? Why tell that story in the first place? Interestingly enough, historical narratives were frequently saturated with myth. Does ancient myth provide a suitable (or convenient) political cover for an historian with something to hide? How available is ancient myth to opportunistic revision? Finally, the course will explore the ways in which ethnic, cultural, or political “others” were inserted into the narrative of Roman history. What role can Jews, Christians, and barbarians play in this story? Is their presence intended to confirm or disrupt Roman power?
Literature: Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods; Livy, The Early History of Rome (selections); Virgil, The Aeneid; Suetonius, The Lives of the Caesars; Flavius Josephus, The Jewish War; Tacitus, Agricola and Germania; Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations; The Passion of St. Perpetua and St. Felicitas. Visual arts: portrait sculpture; battle sarcophagi; the columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius; the Arch of Constantine.

RCHUMS 315 - Representations of History in the Literature and Visual Arts of Rome
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
MW 2:00PM - 3:30PM
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