Open to Gallatin first-year students only.
For ancient Rome, the shift from republic to empire meant the unprecedented centralization of power within a single figure. This course explores the rise and reign of Rome’s most remembered autocrats, Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus, analyzing the birth of the Roman empire from both contemporary and current perspectives. How did Caesar disrupt the traditional dynamics of Roman society? How did the rise of Augustus complicate Roman paradigms of power? And what can these ancient autocrats teach us about leadership and authority in the modern world? Together we examine these questions in context, including the notion of the Pax Romana and Pax Americana, considering also the relationship between power, state, and people within various facets of ancient and modern society. We will utilize both primary texts in translation and secondary sources on the reception of Caesarian politics and the ethics of empire. Readings include Vergil, Ovid, Shakespeare, Hannah Arendt, Duncan Kennedy, and Clifford Ando. A series of short writing assignments will prepare students to explore their historical or theoretical interests in a longer research paper.
First-Year Program: Research Seminars (FIRST-UG)