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CLAS 0084 / HIST 0084 Roman Historical Writing

This course explores history as a literary genre and examines its presentation of events and characters through description and speeches. Caesar wrote about his own experiences campaigning in Gaul, and his presentation of these events was intended as much to further his ambitions as to provide an account for posterity. Sallust and Tacitus drew on sources to record events from the past, but the present time and its political controversies were never far from their minds.

Set texts:

Livy, Book 1

Tacitus, Annals Book 15

Caesar, The Gallic War Book 7

Sallust, The Jugurthine War

Sample topics:

  1. The treatment of myths and the distant past
  2. The presentation of war in Roman historians
  3. Attitudes towards foreign people and cultures
  4. Historians’ presentation and treatment of their sources
  5. Historians’ use of rumour and hearsay and their presentation of conspiracy
  6. The presentation of different social classes
  7. The presentation of the role of women in historical events
  8. The characterisation of protagonists
  9. Historians’ attitudes to political questions

There is no language requirement for this tutorial: all texts are taught in English translation.  However, if you do have the relevant language skills then it can be taught through the original texts: contact the Senior Tutor to discuss this.

You never know what you'll find
One afternoon, I left St. Michael's Hall with the desire for a cookie and thought I'd pick one up before heading back to the Bodleian. The shop around...
Gabrielle Linnell, Spring Semester 2012, Wellesley College