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BA Latin and French

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
National Identity and the Roman Past

Unit code CAHE33021
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Classics & Ancient History
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course will examine Roman attitudes to the legendary and historical past as they developed in the Republic and early Empire. It will also look at Roman responses to other cities, nations and peoples with whom they came into contact, including other Italic communities, as well as the Gauls and the Greeks. Above all, the course will consider Roman attitudes to the city of Rome itself, with special emphasis on sites of religious and political significance. Topics covered will include.

  • the development of the myth of Troy in the late Republic
  • the ‘Roman virtues'
  • temples and religious practice as the focus of national feeling
  • the symbolic significance of the Capitol, the Aventine and the Palatine


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
National Identity and the Roman Past CAHE23021 Anti-requisite Compulsory


for those reading the texts only in translation: none


for those reading some of the texts in Latin: (at least) Advanced 1 or equivalent (higher is fine); student must be at L3


for those reading the texts only in translation: none

for those reading some of the texts in Latin: Advanced Latin 2 or equivalent (higher is fine)

Those taking this course alongside Advanced Latin 2 or 3 are required to take it as linguists.  Level 3 students taking Advanced Latin 1 alongside this course may either take the level 2 linguist version of the course (subject to the University restriction that not more than 20 credits may be taken at level 2) or the non-linguist level 3 version. If you are in any doubt about which level of the course is appropriate for you, please ask.


(for all students)

  • To enable students to broaden and deepen their knowledge of the Roman world by studying a range of texts (across several genres) that explore the exemplary function of the past in Roman culture
  • To develop further the skills, intellectual, practical and transferable, acquired in study of Roman history and literature during the previous year;

(for those students reading some texts in Latin)

  • To consolidate and develop the knowledge of the Latin language acquired during the previous year by focusing on the reading of relevant selections of literary prose and verse

At level 3, a broader and more complex core of texts than at level 2 will include a selection which introduces more sophisticated or controversial issues surrounding the topics covered

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students should/will (please delete as appropriate) have acquired:

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly: 1 lecture plus tutorials

Lectures will provide a framework of information and models for interpretative work which will be explored in more depth in seminar sessions.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Broad and detailed knowledge of  traditional myths of early Rome in Roman historiographical and poetic traditions
  • Understanding of the nature of patriotism and identity in Rome in the late Republic and early Empire

NB In keeping with the broader range of texts, including more complex examples, which students at level 3 will have studied, they are expected to have gained a greater level of sophistication and breadth of knowledge than those taking the course at level 2.

Practical skills

  • Subject-specific skills, including sophisticated evaluation of literary texts as sources of evidence for ancient culture

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Transferable skills and personal qualities include the ability to construct an argument in written and oral form, to pose questions about complex issues
  • To assimilate and summarise large quantities of evidence
  • To locate and retrieve relevant information from primary sources
  • To conduct bibliographic searches
  • To present the results in a professional manner with appropriate reference to sources and modern published scholarship
  • To use e-resources and gain knowledge of research methods and resources
  • To manage time and resources
  • To engage in critical discussion.

Assessment methods


Assessment task


Weighting within unit

2 x essays

Up to 1600 words each (total: up to 3,200 words for the two essays taken together)



2 hours



Feedback methods

  • Written feedback on formative and summative assessment (see above)
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Recommended reading

All students taking the course will read (in English) a ‘core’ selection of texts from a wide range of ancient authors (including Polybius, Suetonius, Ovid, Livy, Cicero, Vergil, Pliny the Elder, Macrobius and Augustine); level 3 seminars focus on additional texts and more detailed exploration of the key themes of the course.

The linguists’ reading prescription will include (in addition to a ‘core’ selection of texts in translation) selections from the following authors/texts in Latin: Horace (especially the ‘Roman Odes’), Livy (Book 5), Augustus’ Res Gestae. Students at Level 3 read additional selections from Propertius.

Preliminary reading (for all students) should include:

Dench, E. (1995) From Barbarians to New Men, Oxford

Edwards,C. (1996) Writing Rome: Textual Approaches to the           City, Cambridge

Flower (1996) Ancestor Masks and Aristocratic Power in Roman Culture, Oxford

Fox, M. (1996) Roman Historical Myths, Oxford

Galinsky, G.K. (1996) Augustan Culture: An Interpretive Introduction, Princeton

Gruen, E. (1992)  Culture and National Identity in Republican Rome, Cornell

Levene, D. (1993) Religion in Livy, Leiden

Miles, G. (1995) Livy: Reconstructing Early Rome, Cornell

Thomas, R.F. (1982) Lands and Peoples in Roman Poetry. The Ethnographical Tradition, Cambridge

Torelli, M. (1999) Tota Italia: Essays in the Cultural Formation of Roman Italy, Oxford

Wiseman, T.P. (1995) Remus, A Roman Myth , Cambridge

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment practical exam 2
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 165

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Maria-Ruth Morello Unit coordinator

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