CLA1354 - Ancient Sources (Material Evidence): Brave New Rome of Augustus

2010/1 Module description

Lecturer(s)Professor Barbara Borg
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
Duration of ModuleTerm 2
Total Student Study Time150 hours, to include 11 x 1-hour lectures, 8 x 1-hour seminars/study-groups and 130 hours private study.

Module aims

This module provides an introduction into how to use and analyse visual and material evidence as a historical source. Students will engage in in-depth thinking into the underlying aims of and influences on the building programme, the monuments and art of Augustan Rome. The module considers key issues of the Augustan Age, uses and definition of propaganda, and the ancient viewer. What models are drawn on to create the new capital city worthy of empire? How is the art and architecture used to rewrite history and bring in new ideals where gods mingle with mortals and myth becomes reality? Can we begin to understand the effect of the new structures on the Roman population? How did the building programme refocus the centres of activity and redirect the movement and gaze of the city? In what sense is the building programme innovative and to what extent is it simply mirroring trends of other great cities with similar types of rule? Is it a monument to immortality?

Intended learning outcomes

Module-specific skills

Through an analysis of visual and material evidence, on completion of this module students should, with guidance, be able to describe and evaluate the changes which Augustus brought about in the city of Rome and the desired as well as actual impact of the transformation. They should also have assimilated a basic understanding of how to use the physical and artistic environment and particularly public monuments in enriching the history of the period. They should also, with guidance, be able to consider more complex themes connected to imperialism, imagery as a political tool and theoretical models which help in accessing the experience of the ancient viewer.

Discipline-specific skills

Students should be able to use, analyse and evaluate visual and material evidence as a major source for understanding the ancient world. They should also develop basic academic and library skills as well as a critical ability in assessing published literature which deals with issues of the history of the city of Rome and the Augustan Age as well as more general approaches to the uses of art and architecture by those in power, & ideas about visualising and mythologising history.

Personal and key skills

Students should demonstrate independent and group study skills in guided research and presentation of findings. They should also be able to select and organise relevant material and to present this in connected oral and written form, and to discuss issues in a peer group. They should be able to manage their own time and meet deadlines.

Learning and teaching methods

(1) Lectures; (2) whole group seminars; 3) study-groups meeting independently to prepare for seminars; 4) seminar-presentations, either individual or in pairs or groups.


One oral presentation of about 10 minutes duration; one essay of 2000 words.


(1) The oral presentation (10% of whole module mark); (2) the essay assignment (30%), (3) one two-hour examination, comprising one question on sources and a choice of one essay question (60%).

Syllabus plan

1. Introduction and historical background
2. Achieving immortality: monument & text
3. What's in a face: the image of youth
4. Campus Martius: Augustan Theme Park
5. The Ara Pacis and the new Classicism?
6. Palatine: inviting gods into the home
7. New districts of Rome & Imperial cult
8. Rewriting history: Augustan Forum
9. The New Women: Cleopatra & Livia
10. Augustus as seen from Abroad
11. Mussolini: the legacy of empire
12. Concluding remarks

Indicative basic reading list

To be confirmed
1. Core Set Texts
G.K. Galinsky, Augustan culture : an interpretive introduction (Princeton, N.J 1996).
T. Habinek, A. Schiesaro (eds.), The Roman Cultural Revolution (CUP 1997).
K.A. Raaflaub, M. Toher (eds.), Between Republic and Empire: Interpretations of Augustus and his Principate (Berkeley 1990)
P. Zanker, The Power and Images in the Age of Augustus (1988).

2. Other Recommended Reading:
M. Beard, J. Henderson, Classical Art from Greece to Rome (2001).
Clarke, John R., Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans. Visual Representation and Non-Elite Viewers in Italy, 100 B.C. - A.D. 315 (Berkeley 2003).
M. Biddiss, M. Wyke (eds.), The uses and abuses of Antiquity (1999)
J. Elsner, Art and the Roman Viewer (Cambridge 1995)
J. Elsner, Art and Text in Roman Culture (Cambridge 1996).
D. Kleiner, Roman Sculpture (Yale UP 1992),
J. Lott, The Neighborhoods of Augustan Rome (CUP 2004).
A. Powell, Roman Poetry and Propaganda in the Age of Augustus (1992).

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