Discussions – The Roman Republic
[Notes - 250 words in length, which is equal to about 1 page of double-spaced writing in Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman 12 point font in a Word document.
Week 1 – Due Jan 16th
"There is this exceptionally beneficial and fruitful advantage to be derived from the study of the past, that you see, set in the clear light of historical truth, examples of every possible type. From these you may select for yourself and your country what to imitate, and also what, as being mischievous in its inception and disastrous in its issues, you are to avoid." (Livy)
Read this week's notes on Myth and History, Roman Virtue and the two excerpts from Livy's History of Rome. Then answer these questions: What lesson did Livy expect the readers of his day to learn from the stories of the Sabine Women, Tarpeia and Lucretia? Specifically what role did disciplina (or the lack thereof) play in the fate of Lucretia? And what virtues (or vices) did the women in the excerpts from Livy exhibit that made them heroines (or villains) for Roman and even later Western culture?
Week 2 – Due Jan 23rd
The so-called "Struggle (Conflict) of the Orders" stretched over several centuries of the history of the Roman Republic. In some senses, it was never really resolved and certainly had a role to play in the demise of the Republic. In this week's discussion, explain what the "Struggle of the Orders" means. What were the key issues that defined it, and what steps were taken in the early Republic to resolve it? To what extent were these steps successful? In what ways were these steps inadequate or unsuccessful?
Week 3 – Due Jan 30th
For this week's discussion, read the article by Andreola Rossi, "Parallel Lives:
Hannibal and Scipio in Livy s Third Decade." Rossi notes that "Livy's parallel lives of Scipio and Hannibal simultaneously reflect issues critical to the political discourse of the late Republic and set up an exemplary antithesis between the tales of Rome's past virtus and her present decline." What does Rossi mean by this statement and how does she construct her argument?
Week 4 – Due Feb 6th
Why, according to the article by Sarolta Takacs, ("Politics and Religion in the Bacchanalian Affair of 186 B.C.E,") did the Roman Senate feel the need to suppress and ultimately control the cult of Bacchus in Rome? Are there later parallels to the Roman treatment of the Christians? Are there contemporary parallels?
Week 5 – Due Feb 13th
Scholars assert that the Gracchi played a pivotal at Rome because they exposed the weakness of the Roman constitution. Does this challenge what you know about the Roman constitution from Polybius? What weaknesses did the Gracchi reveal and how did they choose to use the common people to exploit those weaknesses? To answer these questions, you will need to read Polybius' analysis of the Roman constitution and Barry Strauss' article, "Populares and populists."
Week 6 – Due Feb 20th
Rome saw many slave revolts, but none that so thoroughly threatened the state and captured the imaginations of later generation as the revolt led by Spartacus the gladiator. We will examine the reason for its continuing fascination even in modern America. Read Margaret Malamud, Cold War Romans and discuss the contemporary context of the filming of the story. What was the immediate source of the story? How did the film adapt its source? Why did this "sword and sandal" film become a landmark in American film history?
Week 7 – Due Feb 27th
In discussing Caesar's description of Pompey's camp after the Battle of Pharsalus, Andreola Rossi notes that "Caesar builds a network of correspondences with other events, thereby broadening and universalizing the significance of the narrated episode. It is through this device that he weaves efficaciously into his narrative an important ideological and political subtext that informs the narrative of BC [Bellum Civile/Civil War]." What does Rossi mean and what is Caesar up to?
Week 8 – Due Mar 6th
Why did Thomas Jefferson select classical models for his public architecture? Make particular reference to his use of the Maison Carrée as the model for the Virginia State Capitol and the Pantheon as the model for the Library of the University of Virginia. What symbolic value did Jefferson hope to achieve?
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