21H.402 | Fall 2005 | Undergraduate

The Making of a Roman Emperor


Paper Topics

Students will be required to write three papers for this course:

Paper 1

Due on session 8.

Five pages in length and worth 20%, this paper will take the form of a critical analysis of the accounts of Augustus and/or Nero in Tacitus and/or Suetonius. Students may devise their own topic or write on one of the following:

  1. ‘Tacitus’ Nero is a literary figure, rather than the casual result of impartial historical reconstruction.’ Discuss this claim with reference to Books 13-16 of Tacitus, Annals.

  2. ‘In modern times, simplicity has been seen as the main characteristic of Suetonius’ writing, in the absence of any obvious literary artistry.’ Discuss this claim, and the associated view of Suetonius as a detached and objective scholar, with reference to Suetonius’ biographies of Augustus and Nero.

Paper 2

Due on session 15.

Five pages in length and worth 20%. The aim of the exercise for Paper 2 is to develop your skills in the interpretation of the art and architecture of the Imperial period as a medium through which images of emperors were created and disseminated.

Your Paper 2 should focus on one of the following Augustan monuments:

  • The Ara Pacis
  • The Statue of Augustus from Prima Porta
  • The Forum of Augustus

In developing your interpretation of your chosen monument, you should be thinking about a range of questions including the following:

  • Who commissioned the monument?
  • In what context did the monument originally appear?
  • What images are portrayed on the monument (a certain amount of simple description will be required)?
  • How clear-cut is the message/meaning of the monument?
  • How does it relate to what you have encountered in Tacitus, Suetonius, the Res Gestae?

Demonstrating an understanding of Zanker’s argument(s) about images in the Age of Augustus is also required. What does Zanker have to say about your chosen monument? How does he employ the monument as part of his wider argument about the power of images under Augustus?

To help you further in the preparation of your paper, you should read the relevant chapter from Karl Galinsky, Augustan Culture (1996), which will provide you with a second opinion with which to compare Zanker.

Paper 3

Due on session 26.

Ten pages in length and worth 35%, this paper will consist of a wider-ranging analysis and will provide students the opportunity, and space, to bring together various aspects of the course in a longer work of synthesis. The grading of the final paper will be broken down as follows: 5% for a substantial outline of the paper, due on session 21; 5% for a short presentation to the class, followed by a brief discussion, of your argument and the evidence on which it will rest (presentations will take place in Week 13); and the remaining 25% for the paper itself.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2005
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments