Undergraduate Course: Ammianus Marcellinus and the Roman Empire of the Fourth Century (ANHI10099)
|School||School of History, Classics and Archaeology
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||By far the most detailed account of the late Roman state and its emperors comes from the history of Ammianus Marcellinus, completed in ca. 390 and covering in the surviving books the years AD 353 to 378 and the emperors Constantius II, Julian, Jovian, Valentinian I, and Valens. This course focuses on an in-depth study of Ammianus' work and the Roman world he describes.
The course offers an in-depth study of a historian notable both for brilliant writing and his acute and tendentious perspective on a crucial period of Roman history. Ammianus Marcellinus' Res Gestae originally covered the history of the Roman empire from the accession of Nerva onwards, but only the books covering his own times (AD 353-378) survive. Ammianus' work is unique, but he himself exemplifies the diversity and mobility of the international elite of the Roman empire post-Constantine: a pagan serving under Christian emperors, a Greek-speaker who wrote a Latin history, a Syrian who travelled throughout the Roman world as a high ranking officer and retired to Rome. Thanks to Ammianus, the history of the third quarter of the fourth century AD is one of the best attested periods of Roman history, and the course will explore both what Ammianus can tell us about the Roman world of his time and how he can mislead us. The course will provide insights into themes including the workings of the late Roman state, the Christianisation of Roman society, and the place of classical literature and historical memory in Roman identity. The course will develop students' knowledge of a fascinating period and their skills in political and social history and in reading elaborate literary texts in their historical context.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| Students must have progressed to Honours. Transformation of the Roman World ANHI08015 OR Past and Present ANHI08014 are recommended but not necessary.
|Additional Costs|| They will need to buy the Loeb edition of Ammianus (ca. £60 new), and may wish to buy Hamilton's Penguin translation (ca. £10 new). In future iterations these will be replaced by the Landmark Ammianus Marcellinus (ed. M. Kulikowski, tr. G. Kelly).
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Visiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics or Ancient/ early Medieval 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?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22,
Summative Assessment Hours 2,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
4000 word essay (50%)
Two hour exam (50%)
||Students are expected to discuss their coursework with the Course Organiser at least once prior to submission, and are encouraged to do so more often. Meetings can take place with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment. Students will also receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser.
||Hours & Minutes
|Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)||2:00|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Show understanding of the workings of high politics, social relations, religious adherence, and literary culture in the mid-late fourth century, as understood through the work of Ammianus Marcellinus.
- Show understanding of Ammianus Marcellinus as a writer within the contexts of Latin and Greek historical writing and of the literature of his own time.
- Show critical understanding of Ammianus as a historical source, making comparison to other textual, epigraphic, and archaeological sources.
- Write a research-led, argument-driven essay.
|J.C. Rolfe, Ammianus Marcellinus (Cambridge MA 1935-1939)|
W. Hamilton with A. Wallace-Haddrill, Ammianus Marcellinus: The Later Roman Empire
T.D. Barnes, Ammianus Marcellinus and the Representation of Historical Reality (Ithaca, 1998)
J. den Boeft, J.W. Drijvers, D. den Hengst and H.C. Teitler, Philological and Historical Commentary on Ammianus Marcellinus XX-XXXI (12 vols, Groningen/ Leiden, 1987-2018)
J. den Boeft, J.W. Drijvers, D. den Hengst and H.C. Teitler (eds), Ammianus after Julian (Leiden, 2007)
A.H.M. Jones, J.R. Martindale, and J. Morris, The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, AD 260-395 (Cambridge, 1971)
M. Hanaghan and D. Woods (eds) Ammianus Marcellinus: From Soldier to Author (Leiden, forthcoming 2022)
G.A.J. Kelly, Ammianus Marcellinus: The Allusive Historian (Cambridge, 2008)
J.F. Matthews, The Roman Empire of Ammianus (London, 1989)
A.J. Ross, Ammianus' Julian (Oxford, 2017)
G. Sabbah, La méthode d'Ammien Marcellin (Paris, 1978)
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||On completion of the course, students will have developed their abilities in historical analysis; in the critical and contextualised reading of texts; in understanding the role of literary texts and historiography in the study of political and social history; in written and verbal communication; and in conducting independent research.
|Course organiser||Dr Gavin Kelly
Tel: (0131 6)50 3581
|Course secretary||Miss Sara Dennison
Tel: (0131 6)50 2501