History 417b – The Roman Empire

This course is a survey of the Roman world from the rule of Augustus in the first century BCE to Constantine in the fourth century CE. The course will particularly deal with Roman culture and  civilization, besides that of political history. We will look at the religions of the Roman world and the gradual rise of Christianity as the official religion of the Empire. Also, the development of society, class structure, and gender relations will be studied. We will also look at the role of the military and famous emperors of the Roman Empire and their contact and relations with their neighbors (Germans, Huns, Persians, Armenians, Africans, etc.).

Grades: There will be two exams (25 points each) and a paper (40 points). The exams are one hour in-class examinations. You are required to write a 15-20 page paper using the primary sources on Roman history. You will chose your topic by the seventh week of the class (present an abstract), and by the eighth week would turn in a bibliography along with you final abstract (5 points). At the end of the semester you will present your research to the class orally for 10 minutes (5 points).  THERE ARE NO MAKEUP EXAMS. THAT MEANS YOU CAN NOT TAKE THEM EARLIER OR LATER. YOU NEED TO BE PREPARED EVERYTIME YOU COME TO CLASS AS YOU WILL BE ASKED QUESTIONS AND HAVE TO PARTICIPATE IN CLASS DISCUSSIONS. NOT BEING PREPARED WILL CAUSE YOU TO LOOSE POINTS FROM YOUR PRESENTATION POINTS. YOU WILL FAIL IF YOU DO NOT PRESENT YOUR PAPER.

  1. J. Boardman, J. Griffin, O. Murray, The Oxford History of the Roman World, Oxford, 2001.
  2. M. Goodman, The Roman World 44BC-AD180, Routledge, 2001.
  3. D. Cherry, The Roman World, A Source Book, Blackwell Publishers, 2001.
  4. T. Daryaee, Roman Reader, available at the Little Professor Text Books at  725 North Placentia Ave., phone (714)996-3133.

Week I. The Late Roman Republic The Assassination of Julius Caesar (44 BCE); 2) Marcus Antoinius and the Opposition of Octavian; 3) Cleopatra and the Battle of Actium; 4) Roman life during the Late Republic. (Cherry #4) (Goodman Chapter 1)

Week II. The Roman Empire: The Principate of Augustus (29 BCE to 14 CE) Triumph and Problems Facing Augustus; 2) Reforms, Stabilization, and Colonization; 3) The Cult of the Emperor; 4) Roman life under Augustus. (READINGS Bouvrie; North; Momigliano) (Cherry # 11, 12, 13, 16, 30 (Goodman Chapter 3, 4, 12)

Week III. The Julio-Claudian Emperors (14 CE to 68 CE) Tiberius and his legacy; 2) Caligula (37-41 CE) and his Assassination; 3) Claudius (41-54 CE) and his wife; 4) Nero (54-68 CE), destruction and the Jewish Revolt. (READINGS Momigliano; Chilton; Rogers) (Cherry # 10, 29, 31, 36, 54, 60) (Goodman Chapter 5, 30)

Week IV. The Crisis of the Principate and Recovery under the Flavians (69-96 CE) From Galba to Vespasian (68-79 CE); 2) Restoration and Reform of Vepasian; 3) From Titus to the Murder of Domitian (79-96). (READINGS Hopkins; Weaver) (Goodman Chapter 6)


Week V. The “Good” Emperors of the Second Century CE (96-180 CE) Nerva to Trajan (96-117); 2) Hadrian and the Wall; 3) Antoninus Pius to Marcus Aurelius (138-180 CE). (READINGS Shaw; Skinner; Skinner) (Cherry # 41, 55, 57) (Goodman Chapter 7)

Week VI. Culture and Society in the First Two Centuries  Literature, scholarship, Philosophy, and Religion. From Mystery Cults to Christianity. Mosaics and Coins. Ancient Technology. (READINGS Gilfillan; Scobie; Barton; Purcell) (Cherry # 48, 49, 50, 52) (Goodman Chapter 29, 31)

Week VII. Continuity and Rupture in the Third & Fourth Centuries Crisis (180-235 CE) Commodus (180-192 CE); 2) Septimius Severus and the Parthian War 197-199; 3) Caracalla (211-217 CE); 4) Foreign and Bad Emperors; 5) Severus     Alexander (222-235 CE) and his social, economic and military policies. Anarchy of the Third Century (235-285); 6) Disasters on the front, Gordian III (238-244 CE), Philip the Arab (244-249CE), and Valerian (253-260 CE). (READINGS Barnes; Brown) (Cherry # 46, 47, 53) (Goodman Chapter 25)

Week VIII. Diocletian and the Ordering of the Empire (285-305 CE) The rise of Diocletian; 2) Reforms Tetrarchy 293-312 CE; 3) Christian persecution and Abdication. (READINGS Thompson; Raschke; Woolf) (Cherry # 32) (Goodman Chapter 14)

Week IX. Constantine to Theodosius: New Empire, New Religion The rise of Constantine; 2) Christianity Victor!; 3) Empires divided; 4) Constantine’s ecclesiastical policies (Council of Nicea); 5) Constantinople.


Week X. Papers and Presentations XI Papers and Presentations XII Papers and Presentations XIII Papers and Presentations

Week IX. Final: Papers Due (MAY 20)

  • History 417b – The Roman Empire image

    Time: TTh 11:30-12:45

    Office: Humanities 720B

    Office Hours T 2:30-6:30

    e-mail: [email protected]

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