Humanities 201: The Roman Order

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Humanities 201: The Roman Order covers the grand sweep of Roman history to see the Roman conception of government and the city, the individual and his relationship to the whole, and the evolution of a city beyond the city, what must happen to a government when a city becomes an empire.

Abstract[edit]

Ancient Rome arose out of constant war. Early republican Rome defined itself by overthrowing its kings and establishing its military supremacy in Italy. Later, it came into its greatness as a Mediterranean power by conquering its great enemy, Carthage, in the three Punic wars. Its particular contributions to the West—discipline, pietas, reverence for the rule of law—reflect this martial spirit. Although Rome emerged as a great civilization through conquest, which St. Augustine in the City of God calls the “lust for domination,” it also received and made its own the cultural treasure of the defeated Greeks. Livy, Virgil, Lucretius, Marcus Aurelius, Cicero, Ovid, and Plutarch all imagine Roman civilization explicitly in terms of the Greeks. Rome makes Greece its own in a way that becomes a model for Europe and America. Nowhere else in history does a single city become so completely the central focus and image of uni- versal order. The West would be unthinkable without Rome. Regimes as di- verse as those of Charlemagne, the Russian Tsars, and the American Founding Fathers have all imagined themselves as its successors. More than that, the Roman Catholic Church still finds its center in the city whose history gave the Incarnation and the rise of Christianity its civilizational frame. This Christian appropriation of Rome becomes the foundation of the medieval West.

Texts Used[edit]

  • Livy, History of Rome
  • Plutarch, Lives of Noble Grecians and Romans
  • Virgil, Aeneid
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses
  • Lucretius, On the Nature of Things
  • Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
  • Cicero, Selections
  • St. Augustine, City of God

Typically Taught By[edit]