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

Undergraduate Course: The Dark Side of Empire: Conspiracy in Imperial Rome (ANHI10089)

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
SummaryImperial Rome could be a treacherous place, especially for the emperor. Many conspiracies are recounted by the ancient sources, though details are often sketchy. This course will critically examine various conspiracy narratives in an effort to understand the motivation for these and their veracity.
Course description This course will look at conspiracies against the emperor from the beginning of the imperial period to the early second century. The ancient sources were fascinated by conspiracies but, as is the nature of such endeavours, it is difficult to know what exactly transpired. The purpose of the course will be to try and get behind the events themselves through a close reading of the literary sources, supplemented by other evidence (e.g. inscriptions), in an attempt to determine who was involved and why; we will also consider whether these conspiracies were real or fabricated. Conspiracies to be examined include both well-known plots, such as the Pisonian Conspiracy against Nero, and lesser known examples, such as that by Gaetulicus against Gaius.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: The Roman World 1B: The Roman Empire (CLGE08004) AND Ancient History 2a: Past and Present in the Ancient World (ANHI08014)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
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.
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 as required, command of the body of knowledge considered in the course;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
Berriman, A. and Malcolm Todd 'A very Roman coup: the hidden war of imperial succession, AD 96-98', Historia 50.3 (2001), pp. 312-331

Bingham, Sandra (2013) The Praetorian Guard: A History of Rome's Elite Special Forces. London

Collins, A. W. (2013) 'Casperius Aelianus, Trajan and the mutiny of 97', Acta Classica: 55-61.

Fagan, G. (2002) 'Messalina's folly', CQ 52.2: 566-79

Lacey, W.K. (1980) '2 B.C. and Julia's adultery', Antichthon 14: 127-142

Nappa, C. (2010) 'The unfortunate marriage of Gaius Silius: Tacitus and Juvenal on the fall of Messalina' in J.F. Millar and A.J. Woodman (eds), Latin
Historiography and Poetry in the Early Empire: Generic Interactions. Leiden: 189-204

Pagàn, Victoria Emma (2012) Conspiracy Theory in Latin Literature. Austin

Pagàn, Victoria Emma (2004) Conspiracy Narratives in Roman History. Austin

Sheldon, Rose Mary (2005) Intelligence Activities in Ancient Rome. Oxford

Simpson, Chris (1980), 'The 'conspiracy' of A.D. 39' in C. Deroux (ed.), Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History 168: 347-366
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Sandra Bingham
Tel: (0131 6)50 6689
Course secretaryMr Henry Barnett
Tel: (0131 6)51 5002
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