Hist 300 Emperors, Bishops, and Barbarians
Loyola University Chicago Rome Center
Autumn Semester 2013 – HIST 300/MSTU 343
Emperors, Bishops, Barbarians – The Transformation of Rome
Lecturer: Alexander Evers DPhil (Oxon) (email@example.com)
Course Description and Abstract
Rome – Umbilicus Mundi, the navel of the world, the centre of civilisation, by far the greatest city in Antiquity. The “most splendid of splendid cities” counted approximately one million inhabitants in its hey-day. Lavish provisions of food and wine, as well as spectacles and various forms of urban decoration, magnificent temples and public buildings; public baths, gardens, libraries, circuses, theatres and amphitheatres… The citizens of Rome all had access to it! An elaborate network of roads and aqueducts, well-maintained throughout the centuries, all led to the Eternal City. At the time, it must have appeared that Rome would never end!
The third to the eighth centuries AD constitute what was traditionally and until recently regarded as a rather turbulent period. Theories of decline and fall (triggered by phenomena such as barbarian invasions, socio-political, military and economic crises, natural disasters, and even the rise of Christianity) dominated the historiography of this era, and a wide range of scholars believed that Rome actually did come to an end.
This course, however, focusing on the City of Rome itself from the third century up to the reign of Charlemagne, intends to demonstrate that the period concerned was a time of gradual transformation and even a certain degree of continuity. Both literary sources and the archaeology and epigraphy of the City shall be combined to show that barbarian invasions did not destroy the walls of Rome, and that the arrival of Christianity did not cause the fall of classical culture.
Throughout this course, some of the major issues in the study of the city of Rome in this transitory period are more closely examined. History is never a single-minded and uniform matter. The various contributions of numerous scholars, along with the use of the textbook of Peter Brown, are all intended to stimulate the mind to ask further questions, and to start thinking into only few of all the possible directions towards possible answers – or mere hypotheses. Primary sources, as well as secondary literature from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, reveal the drama of the history, society, politics, and culture of the City of Rome. This course is focused on evaluating the validity of various theories, research findings, and attitudes related to issues such as “decline and fall”, “continuity and change”, et cetera.
The key objective of this course is to survey the history of the ancient city of Rome in the period of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. One of the main problems concerning the studies of Rome and of the Ancient World in general is always one of evidence. Also in this particular case one has to rely on biased, and often fragmented literary sources. Archaeology and epigraphy supplement the literary evidence, but also provide information that partly stands completely on its own. All the evidence has to be weighed with extreme care and consideration. At the end of this course, students are expected to be aware of all the problems and debates concerning a few key themes taken from this time span, and the sensitivities regarding the evidence at hand. They need to demonstrate an understanding of the working of historical mechanisms. They need to be able to evaluate and critically analyse this historical period, having acquired a set of skills to scrutinize the available source material. They need to demonstrate that they are able to comprehend, paraphrase, summarise, and contextualise both the primary sources and the discussions centred around them.
Procedures and Policies
Emperors, Bishops, Barbarians meets twice a week. It is expected of students to contribute in a significant way to this course. They are responsible for completing all of the assigned readings, according to the schedule attached to this syllabus. Class discussions and activities (including on-site meetings in the centre of the City of Rome) encourage students to generate their own ideas, hypotheses, opinions, theories, questions, and proposals; and develop strategies for seeking and synthesizing information to support an argument, make a decision, or resolve a problem. This course has no prerequisites and assumes no prior knowledge of Roman and or Early Mediaeval history, or indeed of the Latin language. It is intended that students acquire a basic knowledge and understanding of the historical background and facts of ancient Rome, as well as that of the working of historical mechanisms, as described above.
It is strongly recommended to take notes, both when reading and listening. These notes are an indispensable part of studying and learning, often the best means to anchor your thoughts with true understanding, transform opinion into knowledge, and establish comprehension rooted in memory. Writing is learning – with half as much effort.
Attendance and Assessment
Attendance is mandatory. The success of each session depends to a considerable extent on the students’ presence, as well as on their preparation and participation.
Final grade assessments will be based on the combination of two exams, one mid-term and one final, and one large essay (10-15 pages) concerning a topic of free choice and based on primary sources and secondary literature. A small percentage of the students’ grade will be derived from attendance and participation. Students opting for an Honours Contract will be given extra assignments.
The 2 (TWO) exams will be tests of your acquired knowledge and understanding of the book by Brown, as well as the topics dealt with in the lectures and seminars, as well as the additional secondary literature. The book provides a general outline of the developments of Roman history, society and culture in Late Antiquity. The facts and the various backgrounds of events, both in time and in the city, are the framework of any basic historical understanding and mode of thinking.
As far as the essay is concerned, it is strongly recommended to start thinking of a suitable topic, including (some of) the appropriate material, right at the beginning of the course. In any case will you be summoned for a consult the week before mid-term, in order to establish an outline of the final essay. Essays count a maximum of 15 pages.
Information MUST under all circumstances be cited. Plagiarism of any sort will result in a grade of “F” for the assignment, or, depending on the level, perhaps even for the entire course.
Essay Grading and Exam Grading Scale
Written work, and to a certain extent also the final exam, meriting the grade of “A” (excellent) must:
- address the assigned question or topic directly and intelligently;
- demonstrate a careful and considered reading of the texts at hand;
- present a lucid thesis and a persuasive argument in its defence;
- use correct grammar, punctuation, and sentence construction;
- make ample and appropriate use of quotations from the texts;
- weave together thesis and argument, quotations and interpretations;
- reveal thoughtfulness, originality and insight.
Written work and examinations awarded the grade of “B” (good) adequately fulfil a majority of these criteria, with areas of improvement indicated by grading remarks and comments.
The grade of “C” (average) is given when written work and examinations fail to meet most criteria, therefore indicating to the student that an appointment should be made with the professor, before the next essay assignment, to discuss methods for improvement.
Finally, the grade of “D” is assigned to written work and examinations that are simply unacceptable, according to the criteria outlined above, in which case an appointment must be made with the professor and arrangements determined for re-submitting the assignments in an acceptable form.
Mid-term Examination 30% of final grade
Final Examination 30% of final grade
Final Essay 30% of final grade
Presence / Participation 10% of final grade
More information on the requirements for the specific essay assignment will be handed out in class.
Students who wish to request a review of the final course grade must provide original versions of all their graded course assignments.
- P. Brown, The World of Late Antiquity (London 1971; reprinted in 1993)
Week 1: The Long Third Century – The Roman Response to Crisis
- P. Brown, The World of Late Antiquity (London, 1971; reprinted in 1993), 11-21.
- J. Drinkwater, “Maximinus to Diocletian and the «Crisis»”, in: A.K. Bowman, P. Garnsey & A. Cameron (eds.), The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 12, The Imperial Crisis and Recovery, A.D. 193-324 (2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 28-66.
- A.K. Bowman, “Diocletian and the first tetrarchy, A.D. 284-305”, in: A.K. Bowman, P. Garnsey & A. Cameron (eds.), The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 12, The Imperial Crisis and Recovery, A.D. 193-324 (2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 67-89.
- G. Alföldy, “The crisis of the third century as seen by contemporaries”, in: Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 15 (1974), 89-111.
Week 2: Why were the Early Christians persecuted?
- Brown (1971/1993), 22-33.
- G.E.M. de Ste. Croix, “Why were the early Christians persecuted?”, in: M.I. Finley (ed.), Studies in Ancient Society (London, 1974), 210-249.
- J.B. Rives, “The decree of Decius and the religion of empire”, in: The Journal of Roman Studies 89 (1999), 135-154.
Week 3: Constantine the Great and Christianity
- Brown (1971/1993), 49-69.
- R. Krautheimer, Three Christian Capitals. Topography and Politics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), 7-40.
- J. Curran, Pagan City and Christian Capital. Rome in the Fourth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), 70-115.
- Idem, “The conversion of Rome revisited”, in: S. Mitchell & G. Greatrex (eds.), Ethnicity and Culture in Late Antiquity (London: Duckworth, 2000), 1-14.
- R. Ross Holloway, Constantine and Rome (New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 2005), 1-18.
Week 4: Difficillima tempora?
- Brown (1971/1993), 34-48.
- J.F. Matthews, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, A.D. 364-425 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 1-31.
- G. Alföldy, “Difficillima tempora: urban life, inscriptions, and mentality in late antique Rome”, in T.S. Burns & J.W. Eadie (eds.), Urban Centers and Rural Contexts in Late Antiquity (East Lansing, Michigan, 2001), 3-24.
Week 5: The Making of a Christian Aristocracy
- Brown (1971/1993), 70-81.
- J. Curran, Pagan City and Christian Capital. Rome in the Fourth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), 260-320.
- M. Salzman, The Making of a Christian Aristocracy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 178-219.
Week 6: Subterranean Rome – Catacombs and Martyr Cult
- G.W. Bowersock, Martyrdom and Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 1-57.
- L.V. Rutgers, Subterranean Rome. In Search of the Roots of Christianity in the Catacombs of the Eternal City (Leuven: Peeters, 2000), 42-117.
Week 7: Panis et Circenses
- Brown (1971/1993), 82-95.
- M.R. Salzman, On Roman Time. The Codex-Calender of 354 and the Rythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 193-246.
- R. Lim, “People as power: games, munificence, and contested topography”, in W.V. Harris (ed.), The Transformations of Urbs Roma in Late Antiquity. Journal of Roman ArchaeologySupplementary Series 33 (Portsmouth, Rhode Island, 1999), 265-281.
- J. Curran, Pagan City and Christian Capital. Rome in the Fourth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), 218-259.
Week 8: The Altar of Victory
- Brown (1971/1993), 96-114.
- J.F. Matthews, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, A.D. 364-425 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 183-219.
- T.D. Barnes, “Augustine, Symmachus, and Ambrose”, in J. Mc.William (ed.), Augustine. From Rhetor to Theologian (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1992), 7-13.
- N. McLynn, Ambrose of Milan. Church and Court in a Christian Capital (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 149-157, 263-289.
- Alan Cameron, “The last pagans of Rome”, in W.V. Harris (ed.), The Transformations of Vrbs Roma in Late Antiquity. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series 33 (Portsmouth, Rhode Island, 1999), 109-121.
- M. Salzman, “The Christianization of sacred time and sacred space”, in W.V. Harris (ed.), The Transformations of Vrbs Roma in Late Antiquity. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series 33 (Portsmouth, Rhode Island, 1999), 123-134.
Week 9: Decline and Fall?
- Brown (1971/1993), 115-135.
- E. Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (London, 1776-1788; London: Everyman’s Library, 1994), vol. 4, 117-127.
- J.F. Matthews, “Gibbon and the later Roman Empire: causes and circumstances”, in R. McKitterick & R. Quinault (eds.), Edward Gibbon and Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 12-33.
- P.D. Garnsey & C. Humfress, The Evolution of the Late Antique World (Cambridge: Orchard Academic, 2001), 216-227.
- Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilisation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 138-168.
Week 10: Theodoric and Rome – a Barbarian on the Throne?
- M.J. Johnson, “Toward a history of Theoderic’s building program”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 42 (1988), 73-96.
- John Moorhead, Theodoric in Italy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 66-113, 140-172.
- Peter Heather, The Goths (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1996/2006), 216-258.
Week 11: Gregory the Great – Aristocrat and Bishop: the birth of the Papal State
- J. Richards, The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages 476-752
(London, 1979), 339-362.
- R. Krautheimer, Rome. Profile of a City, 312 – 1308 (Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1980/2000), 59-87.
- R.A. Markus, Gregory the Great and His World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 1-16, 83-124.
Week 12: The Republic of St. Peter
- T.F.X. Noble, The Republic of St. Peter. The Birth of the Papal State, 680-825 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984), 15-60, 94-98, 185-211.
- P. Delogu, “The papacy, Rome and the wider world in the seventh and eighth centuries”, in: Julia M.H. Smith (ed.), Early Medieval Rome and the Christian West. Essays in Honour of Donald A. Bullough (Leiden/Boston/London: Brill, 2000), 197-221.
- T.F.X. Noble, “Topography, celebration, and power: the making of a papal Rome in the eighth and ninth centuries”, in: Mayke de Jong, Frans Theuws, Carine van Rhijn (eds.), Topographies of Power in the Early Middle Ages (Leiden/Boston/Köln: Brill, 2001), 45-91.
Week 13: Charlemagne – The Holy Roman Empire
- Janet L. Nelson, “Kingsship and empire in the Carolingian world”, in: Rosamond McKitterick (ed.), Carolingian Culture: Emulation and Innovation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 52-87.
- Roger Collins, Charlemagne (Toronto, 1998), 23-42, 141-159.
- Rudolf Schieffer, “Charlemagne and Rome”, in Julia M.H. Smith (ed.), Early Medieval Rome and the Christian West. Essays in Honour of Donald A. Bullough (Leiden/Boston/London, 2000), 279-295.
- R. Collins, “Charlemagne’s imperial coronation and the Annals of Lorsch”, in J. Story (ed.), Charlemagne. Empire ad Society (Manchester, 2005), 52-70.
Week 14: Epilogue