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This module explores the politics, culture, and society of Rome and the provinces, AD 14-138, looking at art, archaeology, epigraphy, and literature. It considers how the power of emperors was consolidated and developed after the death of Augustus, and how the relationship between Rome and its provinces changed during this period.

Term 1 has a chronological framework, covering the whole period in terms of key characteristics of each emperor's reign, and is primarily political in emphasis. With the death of Rome's first emperor, Augustus, and the accession of his chosen heir Tiberius in AD 14, Rome witnessed for the first time the implementation of a dynastic succession. Heirs of Augustus (the 'Julio-Claudians') ruled Rome until the suicide of Nero in AD 68 heralded the tumultuous 'year of the four emperors'. The ending of the civil wars was achieved by the emergence of a new dynasty - the Flavians - who adopted a variety of strategies in order to consolidate their primacy at Rome. The advent of Trajan, the first provincial to become emperor at Rome, confirms the gradual shift towards integration of provincials in Roman political, social, and cultural life, and marks the emergence of a system for passing on imperial power by adoption rather than birth-right.

Term 2 has a more thematic framework, and explores significant changes in culture and society. The module draws upon the rich diversity of material and literary culture from the period. Key literary works for detailed examination include the historical works of Tacitus, the letters of the Younger Pliny, and the imperial biographies of Suetonius. Urban life in both West and East is explored via art, architecture, and archaeology.

Term 3 is devoted to revision, including revisiting major themes via modern 'reception' of the era.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module students should expect to:

  • Have enhanced your research, writing and communication skills
  • Have gained an understanding of the availability, uses & limits of primary sources
  • Be familiar with the narrative of Roman history between AD 14 and AD 138
  • Reflect upon different ways of writing history
  • Appreciate modern responses to and appropriations of Rome during this period
  • Have the ability to pursue independent research by selecting from a range of relevant material.
  • Be able to evaluate the merits of different methodological approaches to the material
  • Be able to select and present material clearly and with a coherent argument both verbally and in writing

In addition, finalists will

  • Be able to set your findings into a wider comparative context, drawing in other aspects of the study of the ancient world
  • Be able to seek out appropriate secondary literature and show discernment in the types of primary evidence addressed.