21H.132 | Spring 2017 | Undergraduate

The Ancient World: Rome


Paper #1

Topics for Paper #1

  • The Foundation of the Republic: Livy’s account of the foundation of the Republic includes several of the most famous of Roman stories: the rape and suicide of Lucretia; the transformation of Lucius Junius Brutus from a pretend fool into the noble founder of the republic; and the fledgling republic’s defense of Rome against Lars Porsenna, complete with acts of individual bravery by Horatius Cocles, Gaius Mucius Scaevola, and Cloelia. Taken together, these stories amount to a foundation myth for the republic of which the Romans of later generations were so proud. As such, the stories might not provide a reliable reconstruction of actual events surrounding the birth of the republic; but they do tell us much about how later Romans chose to see themselves and their republican community. Given what he chose to include and how he chose to tell the stories in question, what do you think Livy was trying to teach his readers about what it meant to be Roman?
  • The Battle of the Allia and the Sack of Rome: The Romans’ defeat at the Battle of the Allia in 390 BC and the subsequent sack of the city of Rome by the Gauls were remembered by Romans of later generations as the city-state’s moment of greatest weakness and humiliation. Given his didactic and moralizing propensities, it is no surprise that Livy’s account of this moment is not a simple narrative of events but is rather a carefully crafted interpretive analysis of what caused the Romans to be subjected to such a disaster. According to Livy, what did the Romans get so wrong in 390 BC?
  • Livy’s Camillus: Marcus Furius Camillus is clearly the star of Livy’s Book 5, with the fate of Rome, in Livy’s telling, closely linked to Camillus’s own personal rise, fall, and rise again. If his is an example of behavior to be emulated, what is it about Camillus’s conduct as depicted in Book 5 that Livy seems to be saying Romans ought to imitate?
  • A topic of your choice, to be approved by Prof. Broadhead, by Recitation 2. 

Paper #1 is due during Session 5.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2017
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments
Lecture Notes