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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Ancient History

Undergraduate Course: The Roman Emperor: the Nature of His Rule (ANHI10093)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores the paradoxical nature of the early Roman emperors' rule and power. It looks into the historical development of their constitutional position within the Principate and the way they used both old Republican institutions and newly devised mechanisms to accumulate power which had all the trappings of absolute monarchy without their ever being proclaimed kings.
Course description The early Roman emperor was one of the most influential political figures in history. Whereas emperors wielded vast power over an extensive territory, the nature of their office is not easily defined as it was a constant work in progress. They gradually accrued more and more powers and encroached into different areas of the economy and the administration through their slaves and freedmen. Thus, they managed to become ever more powerful monarchs while Rome remained officially a republic. This course will look into the nature and characteristics of early Roman emperors' rule and powers (27 BC - AD 235). It will examine the mechanisms through which the emperors exercised their authority looking into how emperors acted as generals, magistrates, judges and lawgivers. It will also analyse how the imperial household took over the administration of the most varied types of public and economic activities. Finally, it will focus on how emperors interacted with different social strata and how the emperor's cult was gradually established.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is available to all students who have progressed to Honours.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics related subject matter (at least 2 of which should be in Ancient History) at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination, understanding of the mechanisms through which Roman emperors accrued and exercised their power and authority;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination, familiarity with the way Roman emperors related to their subjects;
  3. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination, acquaintance with the different roles Roman emperors performed in the military, legal and political realms;
  4. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination, understanding of the complexities of reconstructing the institutional function of the emperor as monarchic head of the Roman Republic;
  5. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence.
Reading List
- Bleicken, J. (1982) Zum Regierungsstil des römischen Kaisers: eine Antwort auf Fergus Millar, Wiesbaden.

- Ferrary, J.-L. (2009) 'The powers of Augustus', in: Edmondson, J. (ed.) Augustus. Edinburgh Readings on the Ancient World, Edinburgh, 90-136.

- Fishwick, D. (1991-1993) The imperial cult in the Latin West, Leiden.

- Honoré, T. (1994) Emperors and Lawyers, Oxford.

- Millar, F. (1992/1977) The emperor in the Roman world (31BC-AD337), London.

- Norman, N. J. (2009) 'Imperial triumph and apotheosis: the Arch of Titus in Rome', in: Counts, D. B. and Tuck, A. S. (eds.) Koine: Mediterranean studies in honor of R. Ross Holloway, Oxford, 41-53.

- Paterson, J. (2007) 'Friends in high places: the creation of the court of the Roman emperor¿' Spawforth, A. J. S. (ed.) The court and court society in ancient monarchies, Cambridge and NY.

- Roller, M. (2015) 'The difference an emperor makes: notes on the reception of the Republican senate in the imperial age', Classical Receptions Journal 7.1, 11-30.

- Sirks, A. J. B. (2001) 'Making a request to the emperor: rescripts in the Roman Empire', in: De Blois, Lukas (ed.) Administration, prosopography and appointment policies in the Roman empire, Amsterdam, 121-135.

- Weaver, P. R. C. (1972) Familia Caesaris: A Social Study of the Emperor's Freedmen and Slaves, Cambridge.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Juan Lewis
Tel: (0131 6)50 4563
Course secretaryMs Jenni Vento
Tel: (0131 6)50 3781
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