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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Classical Literature in Translation

Undergraduate Course: Civil War and the Roman Imagination (CLTR10028)

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
SummaryCivil war loomed large over Roman History and the Roman cultural imagination. This course will explore a diverse range of prose and verse texts documenting and exploring Late Republican and Early Imperial civil wars to consider the evolution of key civil war tropes and motifs, cross-generational attempts to comprehend civil strife, and the utility of modern approaches to ancient civil war.
Course description The Labienus of the Elder Seneca's Controversiae claimed that forgetting was the best defence against civil war (Sen. Contr. 10.3.5). However, as even a cursory glance at the Roman literary tradition suggests, this was not the case. This course offers an introduction to the civil wars of the Late Republic and Early Imperial period, from the bloody conflict between Marius and Sulla in the 80's BC to the infamous 'Year of the Four Emperors' in 69 AD. We will analyse a wide variety of ancient written sources in relation to the events they describe and their contemporary contexts and contemplate the utility of modern approaches to ancient civil strife. We will explore extracts from a range of prose and verse texts relating to the Late Republican and Early Imperial civil wars, consider the diachronic and cross-generic evolution of key civil war tropes and motifs, and scrutinize cross-generational attempts to comprehend war, its origins, and its aftermath.
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, History or Archaeology (at least 1 of which should be in Classical Literature in Translation or 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 a sound knowledge of Roman civil wars and their representation in the historical and literary traditions.
  2. Assimilate a variety of ancient textual sources, compare them, and formulate critical opinions on them.
  3. Read, analyse, contextualise, and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship.
  4. Demonstrate competence in research-driven and argument-driven essay and commentary writing.
Reading List
Armitage, D. 2017. Civil War: A History in Ideas. New Haven: CT.

Börm, H., Mattheis, M., & Wienand, J. (eds.) 2016. Civil War in Ancient Greece and Rome: Contexts of Disintegration and Reintegration. Stuttgart.

Breed, B., Damon, C. & Rossi, A. (eds.) 2010. Citizens of Discord: Rome and its Civil Wars. Oxford.

Donovan Ginsberg, L. & Krasne, D. A. (eds.) 2018. After 69 CE - Writing Civil War in Flavian Rome. Berlin.

Henderson, J. 1998. Fighting for Rome: Poets and Caesars, History and Civil War. Cambridge.

Lange, C. H. 2017. 'Stasisand Bellum Civile: A Difference in Scale?' Critical Analysis of Law 4: 129-40.

Lange, C. H. & Vervaet, F. J. (eds.) 2019. The Historiography of Late Republican Civil War. Leiden/Boston.

Scappaticcio, M. C. (ed.) 2020. Seneca the Elder and His Rediscovered »Historiae ab initio bellorum civilium« - New Perspectives on Early-Imperial Roman Historiography. Berlin/Boston.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical skills in reading and debate
Skills in questioning established norms
Familiarity and ability to engage with a range of evidence
Ability to identify and examine trends within a diverse range of evidence
Independent thinking and planning (self-directed coursework assignments)
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Elaine Sanderson
Tel: (0131 6)50 4620
Course secretaryMiss Katherine Perry
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