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

Undergraduate Course: Tacitus (LATI10047)

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
SummaryTacitus' Annals is a highlight of Roman imperial literature and historiography. It gives an unforgettable picture of high politics and foreign relations in the new imperial system in the first century AD. We shall read the text both as a work of high art and as an interpretation of history.
Course description Tacitus is the most admired of the Roman historians for both literary artistry and intellectual power, and his final work, the Annals (written perhaps in 115-120 and describing in the surviving portions the reigns of Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero) is among the most remarkable things in Latin prose. A crucial aim of the course is to help students to understand Tacitus' extraordinary style, to understand why it is extraordinary, and how style relates to thought. Next, the course aims to help navigate two valid but contrasting ways in which Tacitus is read: 1. through the insight of the last 35 years that classical historiography is highly artful and creative form, more akin to poetry and rhetoric and less concerned with literal truth than the modern equivalent; 2. as a painstaking historian and a valuable source. As well as Tacitus, constant reference will be made to other literary or epigraphic texts which were known to himor which cover the same events or which share the same lost sources (e.g. Suetonius, Cassius Dio, Res Gestae, Velleius Paterculus, the Senatus consultum de Gnaeo Pisone patre). Students can choose a more historical or a more literary focus in their written work, according to taste.

In the coming academic year we will concentrate on the first three books of the Annals, covering the early reign of Tiberius (AD 14-22).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Latin 2A (LATI08011) OR Latin 2a Ex-Beginners (LATI08013)) AND Latin 2B (LATI08012)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Recommended text and translation of Tacitus, ca. £40.
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 Latin) at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses but Elementary and Intermediate Latin courses will not count. Students beyond Intermediate level but with less Latin than the prerequisite should consider taking Latin 2a/2b.

** 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 understanding of Tacitus' meaning and Latin style through accurate translations and critical commentary.
  2. show understanding of Tacitus' writing within the contexts of Latin literature and particularly historiography, both on points of detail and in broader synthesis
  3. show critical understanding of Tacitus in the context of early imperial history and as a historical source, making comparison to other narrative accounts and to epigraphic evidence.
  4. To demonstrate competence in research-driven and argument-driven essay writing.
Reading List
H. Heubner, P. Cornelius Tacitus (Tom. 1) Annales (Stuttgart and Leipzig, 2 1994) (set text)
A.J. Woodman, Tacitus: The Annals, translated with introduction and notes (Indianapolis, 2004).
F.R.D. Goodyear, The Annals of Tacitus Volume 1: Annals 1.1-54 (Cambridge, 1972).
-----, The Annals of Tacitus Volume 2: Annals 1.55-81 and Annals 2 (Cambridge, 1980).
A.J. Woodman and R.H. Martin, The Annals of Tacitus Book 3 (Cambridge, 1996).
B. Levick, Tiberius the Politician (London, 2 1999).
J.B. Lott et al., Death and Dynasty in Early Imperial Rome (Cambridge, 2012).
C.T. Mallan, Cassius Dio: Roman History Books 57 and 58 (The Reign of Tiberius) (Oxford, 2020).
R. Syme, Tacitus (Oxford, 1958).
A.J. Woodman, Tacitus Reviewed (Oxford, 1998).
A.J. Woodman and C.S. Kraus, Latin Historians (Oxford, 1998).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills On completion of the course, students will have advanced their abilities in the critical and contextualised reading of texts; in understanding the role of literary texts and historiography in the study of political history; in written and verbal communication; and in conducting independent research
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Gavin Kelly
Tel: (0131 6)50 3581
Course secretaryMiss Sara Dennison
Tel: (0131 6)50 2501
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