The Roman Empire

HIST 4033/5033 • Fall 2023

This course counts towards the Histories of Global Cultures and SocietiesHistories of Statemaking and the Limits of Power Concentrations

Prima Porta Augustus

Statue of the Emperor Augustus

Instructor: Dr. Charles E. Muntz
Time: MWF 10:45-11:35
Place: SCEN 0203
Dr. Muntz's Office: 408 Old Main
Office Hours: M 1:00-2:30
Phone: (479) 575-5891


History of Rome from the Emperor Augustus to Constantine, ca. 30 BCE - 337 CE. Topics include the sources for imperial Rome, the organization of imperial government, the reigns of individual emperors, the provinces of Rome and provincial government, art and literature under the empire, the rise of Christianity, and the conversion of the Empire.

Learning Outcomes (Undergraduates)

  • Students will be able to evaluate the ancient sources for the Roman Empire and the problems with using them.
  • Students will understand the evolution of the figure of the Roman Emperor from Augustus to the Dominate of the 4th century.
  • Students will understand the development of the Roman Empire from Augustus to the conversion to Christianity.
  • Students will be able to describe the development of the Roman provinces and the process of “Romanization"

Learning Outcomes (Graduates) - all of the above, plus

  • Engage with and evaluate modern scholarship on the Roman Empire
  • Assess historiographic trends on the Roman Empire

Covid Policies

This is a face-to-face class, and students are expected attend as long as they are healthy. But the Covid-19 pandemic is ongoing, so if you feel sick you should not come to class. Get tested - take-home tests are readily available - and if it is positive let the instructor know ASAP. The Health Center page has information on how long to isolate.

If you have to miss class, for Covid or any other reason, you need to take responsibility for finding out what we went over that day - think of it as an opportunity to make friends with your classmates, so you can borrow and copy notes. And of course, if you have any questions about material you can ask me. Extensions for paper deadlines and alternatives to the graded class discussions will also be available as needed, but again you need to email me for instructions.


Exams: There will be an in-class midterm on September 22, and a final exam on Wednesday December 13 at 10:15-12:15. Both will consist of short identifications and essay questions. Bring an exam book.

Short Paper: A 1600-1800 word paper comparing Tacitus' adaptation of the Lyons Speech of Claudius with Claudius' original speech, due September 18 by 5pm. Assignment here.

Long Paper (Undergraduates): A 3200-3600 word paper analyzing Plutarch's, Suetonius's, and Tacitus's accounts of the Emperor Galba, due December 8 by 5pm. Assignment here.

Long Paper (Graduates): A 3500-4000 word research paper on a topic of the student's choice, in consultation with the professor, due December 8 by 5pm.

Class Discussion: Certain class periods are set aside for class discussions. Questions based on the primary sources to get things started can be found here, but feel free to raise other issues or questions on your own. 

Grade Breakdown:
Participation: 15% 
Paper 1: 15% 
Paper 2: 30% 
Midterm: 15% 
Final: 25%

Reading Materials

Required Texts:
Birley, A. R. Tacitus: Agricola & Germany. ISBN 019953926X
Fagles, Robert. Virgil: The Aeneid. ISBN 9780143106296
Fyfe, W. H. Tacitus: The Histories. ISBN 9780199540709
Woodman, A. J., trans. Tacitus: The Annals. ISBN 0872205584

Other texts will be made available via links under the Daily Topics

Super resource if you need to look up a person or topic (much better than Wikipedia or other web sources):
The Oxford Classical Dictionary


Academic Integrity: As a core part of its mission, the University of Arkansas provides students with the opportunity to further their educational goals through programs of study and research in an environment that promotes freedom of inquiry and academic responsibility. Accomplishing this mission is only possible when intellectual honesty and individual integrity prevail.

Each University of Arkansas student is required to be familiar with and abide by the University’s ‘Academic Integrity Policy’ which may be found at Students with questions about how these policies apply to a particular course or assignment should immediately contact their instructor.

Equal Access: University of Arkansas Academic Policy Series 1520.10 requires that students with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodations to ensure their equal access to course content. If you have a documented disability and require accommodations, please contact me privately at the beginning of the semester to make arrangements for necessary classroom adjustments. Please note, you must first verify your eligibility for these through the Center for Educational Access (contact 479-575-3104 or visit for more information on registration procedures).

Unauthorized Websites or Internet Resources: There are many websites claiming to offer study aids to students, but in using such websites, students could find themselves in violation of our University’s Academic Integrity and Code of Student Life policies. These websites include (but are not limited to) Quizlet, Bartleby, Course Hero, Chegg, and Clutch Prep, as well as AI such as ChatGPT. The U of A does not endorse the use of these products in an unethical manner. These websites may encourage students to upload course materials, such as test questions, individual assignments, and examples of graded material. Such materials are the intellectual property of instructors, the university, or publishers and may not be distributed without prior authorization. Furthermore, paying for academic work to be completed on your behalf and submitting it for academic credit is considered ‘contract cheating’ per the Academic Integrity Policy. Students found responsible for this type of violation face a grading penalty of ‘XF’ and a minimum one-semester academic suspension per the University of Arkansas Sanction Rubric. Please let me know if you are uncertain about the use of a website.

Unauthorized Recording by Student: Recording, or transmission of a recording, of all or any portion of a class is prohibited unless the recording is necessary for educational accommodation as expressly authorized and documented through the Center for Educational Access with proper advance notice to the instructor. Unauthorized recordings may violate federal law, state law, and university policies. Student-made recordings are subject to the same restrictions as instructor- made recordings. Failure to comply with this provision will result in a referral to the Office of Student Standards and Conduct for potential charges under the Code of Student Life. In situations where the recordings are used to gain an academic advantage, it may also be considered a violation of the University of Arkansas' academic integrity policy.

Recording of Class Lectures: By attending this class, student understands the course is being recorded and consents to being recorded for official university educational purposes. Be aware that incidental recording may also occur before and after official class times.

Unauthorized Use and Distribution of Class Notes: Third parties may attempt to connect with you to buy your notes and other course information from this class. I will consider distributing course materials to a third party without my authorization a violation of my intellectual property rights and/or copyright law as well as a violation of the University of Arkansas' academic integrity policy. Continued enrollment in this class signifies your intent to abide by the policy. Any violation will be reported to the Office of Academic Initiatives and Integrity.

Please be aware that such class materials that may have already been given to such third parties may contain errors, which could affect your performance or grade. If a third party should contact you regarding such an offer, I would appreciate your bringing this to my attention. We all play a part in creating a course climate of integrity.

Inclement Weather: Classes will be held unless the University cancels them.

Miscellaneous: Please turn off and put away all cell phones and any other non-course related items and finish any food you might be eating before coming into class. Please remain seated during class - if you need to use the lavatory, do so before or after class.

Daily Topics and Reading Assignments

Week 1
August 21: Introduction

August 23: The Dying Republic
    Sallust: Preface to the Bellum Catilinae

August 25: Caesar's Heir

Week 2
August 28: The Civil Wars
    Livy: Preface

August 30: The New Order
    Virgil: Aeneid Books 1 & 2

September 1: The City of Marble
    Virgil: Aeneid Books 3 & 4

Week 3
September 4: Labor Day Holiday

September 6: Aeneid Discussion 1
    Virgil: Aeneid Books 5 & 6

September 8: Emperor & State
    Virgil: Aeneid Book 7 & 8

Week 4
September 11: The Golden Age
    Virgil: Aeneid Books 9 & 10
    Horace: Centennial Hymn

September 13: Aeneid Discussion 2
    Virgil: Aeneid Books 11 & 12

September 15: The Morality of Augustus
    Ovid: Art of Love, Book 2

Week 5
September 18: Imperial Cult / First Paper Due

September 20: Augustus Discussion
    Res Gestae (Deeds of the Deified Augustus)
    Cassius Dio 56.29-47
    Tacitus: Annals 1.1-11

September 22: Midterm

Week 6
September 25: Tiberius and the Consolidation of the Principate
    Tacitus: Annals 1.11-81, 2.27-43, 2.50, 2.53-88

September 27: The Later Reign of Tiberius
    Tacitus: Annals 3.1-19, 3.22-38, 3.52-72, 4.1-33
    Senatus Consultum Concerning Piso (You need to be on campus to access this - note that Latin and English alternate)

September 29: Tacitus Discussion 1
   Tacitus Annals 4.34-68, 6.1-30, 6.38-51

Week 7
October 2: Caligula
    Get ahead on Tacitus!

October 4: Claudius
    Tacitus: Annals 11.1-12.69

October 6: The Mother of Nero
    Tacitus: Annals 13.1-7, 13.11-29, 13.45-52

Week 8
October 9: The Fall of Nero
    Tacitus: Annals 14.1-22, 14.29-65, 15.23-25

October 11: Tacitus Discussion 2
    Tacitus: Annals 15.33-74, 16.1-35

October 13: The Civil War of 69: Galba & Otho
    Tacitus: Histories 1.1-78

Week 9
October 16: Fall Break!

October 18: The Civil War of 69: Vitellius & Vespasian
    Tacitus: Histories 2.1-51, 73-101

October 20: Tacitus Discussion 3
    Tacitus: Histories 3.1-39, 49-53, 63-86

Week 10
October 23: The Flavians
    Suetonius: Life of Domitian

October 25: Pompeii
    Pliny the Younger's Letters to Tacitus on the eruption of Vesuvius

October 27: Nerva & Trajan
    Pliny: Selected Letters from Books 1-9

Week 11
October 30: Pliny the Younger Discussion
    Pliny: Correspondance with Trajan (Letters Book 10)

November 1: Hadrian
    Augustan History: Life of Hadrian Part 1 Part 2

November 3: The Eastern Provinces
    Tacitus: Histories 5.1-13

Week 12
November 6: The Western Provinces and Frontiers
    Tacitus: Agricola

November 8: Tacitus Discussion 4
    Tacitus: The Germany

November 10: The Antonines
    Marcus Aurelius: Meditations, Book 1

Week 13
November 13: The Early Christians
    Letter of Ignatius to the Ephesians 
    Letter of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans
    Martydom of Polycarp

November 15: Rise of Septimius Severus
    Augustan History: Life of Septimius Severus

November 17: Septimius, his Sons, and his "Dynasty"
    Augustan History: Life of Heliogabalus Part 1 Part 2

Week 14
November 20: The Unity of the Roman Empire

November 22: Thanksgiving Break

November 24: Thanksgiving Break

Week 15
November 27: The Rise of Rival Powers

November 29: The Age of Anarchy
    Eutropius, Book 9

December 1: Diocletian
    Lactantius: On the Deaths of the Persecutors, VII-XIX
    Price Edict
    Decree Against the Manichaeans

Week 16
December 4: Constantine

December 6: Epilogue and Review

December 8: Final Paper DueSuetonius, Life of Galba - Plutarch, Life of Galba

Final Exam, Wednesday December 13, 10:15-12:15pm