Thursday, September 28, 2023

Crassus, Pompey, and Their Contemporaries (Blog for Tuesday, 10/3)

Please read Plutarch's account of one of the many "ambitious young men" who lived during what is sometimes called the Age of Cicero. Pick out a key line that shows how this man's work might have tended to support or destroy republican government in Rome. Explain why you chose this particular line.

You can use one of these abridged biographies of Crassus, Cicero, Pompey, Sertorius, Cato the Younger, or Lucullus. If you prefer the complete text, go to the links in the right hand column here (scroll down a bit).

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Still more Plautus!

Please read The Pot of Gold, Pseudolus, or The Brothers Menaechmus 

Cite here some lines/passages that would be particularly good for showing what the play you read says about Roman values, family relationships, romantic relationships, day-to-day life, religion, etc.

Monday, September 18, 2023

More Plautus (The Prisoners)

For Thursday, September 21, please read Plautus' The Prisoners (Captivi). Cite a line from this play that shows something about Roman society or Roman history one might not learn from a more conventional historical source, e.g., something about day-to-day life in Rome, something about Roman values, or something about the Roman sense of humor. Explain why you chose this particular line. Alternatively, note something Plautus has done with one of the five "narrative essentials" (plot, character, theme, setting, and tone) that shows something important about Roman history.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Marius and Sulla

Marius and Sulla were both in some ways a great Roman heroes. However, each also contributed to bringing disaster on Rome.

Please read Plutarch's Life of Marius, either in the abridged version here or the unabridged version here. Then read Plutarch's Life of Sulla, either in the abridged version here or the unabridged version here.

Cite an example that helps build the case that one of these men was a great hero for Rome *or* cite an example that shows how one of these men brought disaster to Rome.

The war with Jugurtha

Please read the Introduction to Sallust's War with Jugurtha. Pick out what you consider to be the most important/most interesting line from this selection. If other students have chosen a different line, explain why *your* line is even more important or more interesting.

As an alternative, pick out the line from Sallust you consider the worst, or the least interesting. If other students have chosen a different line, explain why your line is even worse or less interesting.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Selections on Roman Warfare (extra credit)

Times of war tend to bring out both the strengths and weaknesses of a society. This is particularly true of Republican Rome. Please read through one or two of the selections linked below. Pick out an incident/passage that shows either the surprising nature of Roman success or one of the characteristics of Republican Rome that makes that success not so surprising.

Selections you should find interesting include: Livy's description of the Roman method of declaring war, Livy's account of the war with and eventual destruction of Veii (Book V, sections 1-23), Livy's account of the Sack of Rome by the Gauls and Camillus' rescue of Rome (Book V, sections 33-55), Polybius' description of The Battle of Cannae, Polybius' comparison of the Roman maniple to the Macedonian phalanx, and Polybius' description of Roman government.

Noble Romans (extra credit)

"All history is biography," said Emerson, and he's certainly right in thinking that an understanding of the lives of individual men and women is essential to history. Fortunately for us, many ancient writers shared Emerson's idea of the importance of biography, and they've left us many fascinating accounts of important Roman leaders. Among the most interesting biographies are those contained in Plutarch's "Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans." Please read one of the following selections from Plutarch. Cite an incident or sentiment that seems to you particular important in understanding Roman character/values/history, and explain why you chose this particular passage/event.
Abridged versions:

Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Gracchus, Fabius Maximus, Cato the Elder, Camillus

Unabridged versions:

Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Gracchus, Fabius Maximus, Cato the Elder, Camillus

The Twelve Tables

Please read through this translation of the the Twelve Tables, Rome's first written laws (also available in an abridged version here). How impressed are you with this law code? Cite an example of what you consider to be a particularly good law or a particularly bad law from this code. Explain how the law you cite would have tended to either strengthen or weaken the Roman Republic.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Hero of Rome (extra credit)

"Sword and Sandal" movies (also called peplum movies) were really popular when I was growing up. They range very greatly in quality, but some of them show really well the lasting influence of the stories of Roman history. One of my favorites is Hero of Rome.

The film is set just after the expulsion of the Tarquins.  The Etruscan leader Lars Porsenna has launched an effort to restore Tarquin the Proud to the throne.  The "Mucius" you see at the beginning of the film earns the nick-name  Scaevola (the left-handed) for reasons that will become apparent in the first 15 minutes of the film. 

For extra credit, watch the first 15 minutes of the film--or the whole movie if you like.  What do you see here that shows the importance of the stories of early Roman in turns of their influence on subsequent history? 

Livy--Stories from Early Rome

Please read the Preface and Book I of Livy's History of Rome). Read the preface carefully. Skim through Book I, concentrating on stories you find particularly interesting.

Unfortunately, the formatting and arrangement of the online Livy history makes for tough reading.  You might find it easier to look at the Baldwin project version of Livy.  This are "retellings" of the stories, but close enough for our purposes.  Just click on any of the first six links in the left hand column, and you'll get to a story you can easily read and comment on.

After you've done the reading, choose one (1) character from one of the Livy stories that you think particularly interesting. What parts of the story do you think really happened, and what parts do you disbelieve? Why? How is the story of this character important for understanding Roman history/subsequent history?