AP/HUMA 4102 6.00
Caligula, Claudius, And Nero: Roman Emperors Between Myth And History
This course focuses on ancient Roman literature and culture in and around the years 37 - 68 CE, spanning the reigns of the emperors Caligula, Claudius and Nero. This period marks the decline and dramatic end of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, established by the emperor Augustus in 28 BCE. The court of the Roman emperors in this period is infamous in western culture for its excess, love of luxury and the moral decline in Roman leadership. Nero's name, in particular, is synonymous with extravagance, cruelty, and the madness induced by unlimited power. In this course we examine the foundations of these representations by reviewing a wide range of sources for the first-century CE Rome: historiographical, archaeological, literary, architectural, etc. We will ask: what factors led to the historical opinion of these 'bad' emperors? And further, how and why do we engage today with this source material and the questions it raises? Topics to be covered include: the conflicted representations of these political figures; the relationship of literature and politics; satire and censorship; Roman imperialism; Roman spectacle; ancient historiography; the Roman empire on film and in popular culture. REPRESENTATIVE READINGS: Tacitus, Annals of Imperial Rome; Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars; Petronius, The Satyricon; Seneca, Dialogues, Tragedies, Letters; Lucan, Civil Wars. Films: Quo Vadis; Caligula; The Robe; Demetrius and the Gladiators.