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CLAS 2307 The Roman Historians. Tuesdays and Thursdays 2 – 3:20 in A 122. Summary. 1. Course Mechanics 2. Introduction to CLAS 2307 The Roman Historians. The Instructor. Dr. Ilse Mueller Office: H 339 Tel. 474 3450 X 4423 Email: [email protected]

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clas 2307 the roman historians

CLAS 2307 The Roman Historians

Tuesdays and Thursdays

2 – 3:20 in A 122

  • 1. Course Mechanics
  • 2. Introduction to CLAS 2307 The Roman Historians
the instructor
The Instructor

Dr. Ilse Mueller

Office: H 339

Tel. 474 3450 X 4423

Email: [email protected]

Office Hours: Tue and Thu 12:30-1:30

course books
Course Books
  • Ronald Mellor, ed. The Historians of Ancient Rome, An Anthology of the Major Writings, Routledge 2004.
  • Additional primary material will be supplied via the course website.
grade distribution
Grade Distribution
  • Assignment 1/Presentation – 15% (due dates throughout the term)
  • Term Essay 5-6 pages 30% (due December 8)
  • Mid-Term test in class 15% (October 20)
  • Final Exam 30%
  • Attendance/participation 10%


assignment 1
Assignment 1
  • Students are given a choice to give a short presentation on one of the given topics on the reading of that week and short write-up of 2 pages, or an essay or 4 pages in length.
  • Sign up list for topics and dates will be made available by next Tuesday
class format
Class Format
  • Tuesdays – normally lectures to provide context for the primary texts read in this course
  • Thursdays – shorter lectures, class presentations and close readings and discussions of the text
  • Preparedness and participation is an important element in this course.
course description
Course Description
  • This course examines the major Roman Historians in their historical and cultural context. It examines the development of Roman Historiography and its characteristics and forms, as well as the role it played in Roman society and culture. The course will also examine in some detail the purpose, methods and literary style of the authors studied.
course objectives
Course Objectives
  • Familiarity with the major extant Roman Historians
  • Familiarity with the traditions of Roman Historiography
  • Understanding of the Roman concept of history
  • Understanding the importance of the cultural and historical context of Roman History writing
  • Understanding of the characteristics and the nature of ancient Roman historical writings
  • Familiarity with the various genres of ancient Roman historical writings
  • Understanding of the role history had in Roman culture
Every Historian must be able to read and evaluate the ancient sources him/herself.
  • A modern historian must have an understanding of the nature and the problems of the sources in order to interpret them correctly.
primary and secondary sources
Primary and Secondary Sources
  • The writings of the ancient historians are all primary sourcesfor us
  • All modern history books/articles are secondary sources; they are interpretations based on primary sources.
what are the challenges of studying the roman historians
What are the Challenges of Studying the Roman Historians
  • Romans had a different understanding/concept of what history is
  • Often written centuries after the event
  • Large periods not covered by extant sources
  • Biases of individual authors
  • Different approach/different interests/different questions
  • Their sources are often poorly substantiated
what do we need to ask of ancient texts in order to evaluate their usefulness
What do we need to ask of ancient texts in order to evaluate their usefulness?
  • Who is the author?
  • What is his position in society?
  • What is his purpose?
  • What is his focus/interest?
  • Does he write about contemporary events or of the past?
  • If it is a past event – what are his sources?
  • Who is his audience?
  • What is the political/cultural environment he writes in?
  • Does he have particular biases?
livy on the early history of rome
Livy on the early history of Rome

“The traditions of what happened prior to the foundation of the City or whilst it was being built, are more fitted to adorn the creations of the poet than the authentic records of the historian, and I have no intention of establishing either their truth or their falsehood. This much licence is conceded to the ancients, that by intermingling human actions with divine they may confer a more august dignity on the origins of states. Now, if any nation ought to be allowed to claim a sacred origin and point back to a divine paternity that nation is Rome. For such is her renown in war that when she chooses to represent Mars as her own and her founder\'s father, the nations of the world accept the statement with the same equanimity with which they accept her dominion.” (Livy, Praefatio. Trans. R.C. Roberts, 1912).

does livy s statement justify dismissal of his account of rome s early history

Does Livy’s statement justify dismissal of his account of Rome’s early history?

Does it provide us with a history of early Rome?