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HSTAM 330 A: The Age of Augustus

Meeting Time: 
MTWThF 1:30pm - 2:20pm
THO 125
Joint Sections: 
CLAS 330 A
Alain M. Gowing

Syllabus Description:


Classics 330/HSTAM 330: The Age of Augustus

Autumn Quarter 2018 -- MTWThF 1:30-2:20, Thomson Hall 125

Professor A. M. Gowing
Office: Denny M262C
Phone: 543-2266 (Dept. of Classics)

Autumn Quarter Office Hr.: M 10:30-11:30 AM and by appointment (also please note our Thursday 'conference': see below)


Description: This course will examine all aspects of the Age of Augustus (31 BC - AD 14), a period of profound political and cultural change that permanently altered the course of Roman history. The history, politics, literature, art, architecture, and religion of the period will all come under scrutiny as we investigate the various ways in which Rome's first emperor sought to repair and redirect a society fragmented by years of civil war -- and the various ways in which the citizens of Rome reacted to the Augustan reforms. The readings will be drawn largely from primary texts, including Augustus' own account of his rule (the Res Gestae); selections from the works of Vergil, Ovid, Horace, and other Augustan writers; Suetonius' Life of Augustus; and numerous inscriptions illustrating various aspects of life in Rome as well as in the provinces.

Course goals: At the conclusion of this class students will have:

  • learned to think critically and knowledgeably about an important period in Roman history specifically and western civilization generally
  • acquired the skill to evaluate and analyze a wide variety of historical evidence relevant to the period, from inscriptions to coins to literary texts and material remains
  • imaginatively re-created in writing a piece of 'lost' historical evidence
  • learned to think critically about and acquired an appreciation for the impressive literary and artistic legacy of the Augustan period.

Required texts:

  • Coursepack with readings from K. Chisholm and J. Ferguson, edd. Rome. The Augustan Age. Oxford 1981. Available at Univ. Bookstore with other texts.

I have made available a SCANNED version of the coursepack HERE.  But PLEASE NOTE that this is NOT intended to be a substitute for a hardcopy of the coursepack.  You WILL need a hardcopy (trust me, you will)...I am providing the scanned version merely as a convenience and for occasional consultation when you don't have ready access to your hardcopy.

  •  A.H.M. Jones. Augustus. New York and London 1970.
  • P. Zanker. The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus. Alan Shapiro, trans. Michigan 1988.

Requirements: 1) Regular class attendance is strongly urged (5%)

            2) Midterm (25%) and Final Examination (30%) Both exams will consist of short answer and brief essay questions. While the final exam will focus principally on material covered in the second half of the course, familiarity with the issues covered in the first half will be assumed.

            3) Two 3-5 page papers (40%, 20% each).  Information including instructions, grading criteria, and suggested topics for each paper will be posted to Canvas early in the quarter. The principal aim of each paper is to have you compose something (for example, a letter, fragment of a history, etc.) addressing a particular topic from the perspective of a person living in the Augustan period. Unless previously cleared with me, late papers will be penalized.

Thursday Conference: Unless you are otherwise notified, there will be no class meeting on Thursdays, but I will be available in my office during our regular class period (1:30-2:20 PM) for individual conferences.

Optional W-Course: You may elect to take this as a W-Course. This will entail EITHER writing an additional paper along the lines of the required two OR if you prefer, you may elect -- in lieu of 3 shorter papers -- to write a 12-15 page research paper on a topic of your choice and approved by me. A draft of this will be due in Week 8; the final draft is due at the next-to-last class meeting.

Basic groundrules:

  • Cell phones: please don’t use them during class – at all
  • Laptops or pads: It’s OK to use laptops or pads to take notes or check the coursewebsite (e.g., you want to look at the overheads), but please don’t use them for anything else
  • Coming late: I understand that it can sometimes be a challenge to get to class on time, but on those occasions when you have to enter the room late, please do so as unobtrusively as possible.
  • Missing classes: I also understand that from time to time you may have to miss a class, but please don’t ask me to recap a lecture or provide you with lecture notes.  Ask someone in the class if you miss anything. 
  • Missing exams.  I abide by the UW’s policies on administering examinations (, and it is your responsibility to be familiar with those.  If you feel you fulfill the conditions for missing and rescheduling an exam (please do read them before contacting me), speak with me before the exam.

For a very select bibliography on Augustus, including some relevant websites, click HERE

Schedule of readings and lectures:

NB: It is a certainty that I will stray occasionally from this timetable (I’ve accounted for that in making the schedule), so consider this a rough guide to what your reading should be at any given time.  It should be clear from class – and I will remind you – where in the reading you should be.  You will want to have the relevant book and the coursepack with you when you come to class.

☛NOTE that the overheads and PowerPoints I use each week are posted HERE!!


Part I.  History and Politics

Week 1

OVERHEADS for Weeks 1 and 2 are posted HERE.

Sept. 26: Introduction

27: The breakdown of the Republic.  Jones Chap. 1; C&F G2, G5.  Optional: Zanker Chap. 1

28: breakdown cont'd. Caesar's heir.  Jones Chap. 2; C&F B2-B12


Week 2

Oct. 1: The triumvirate (formation down to 35 BC).  Jones Chap. 3; C&F B13-B22, B50 and I39

2: The triumvirate cont'd. (35 to Battle of Actium in 31).  C&F B24-B26

3: Analysis: the myth of Actium.  WH Chap. 1. Optional: Zanker Chap. 2

5: The 'restoration' of the Republic and the Augustan settlement.  Jones Chap. 4; C&F B27-B29


Week 3

OVERHEADS for Week 3 are posted HERE.

8: restoration cont'd (down to 19 BC).  C&F I39, B30-34; Zanker Chap. 3

9: the principate (19 BC - AD 14).  Views of Augustus; his death.  Jones Chap. 5; C&F A1, B35-49, B51-53

10: Augustus’ ‘constitutional’ position.  Jones Chap. 6; C&F C1

12: magistracies and the senate.  Jones Chap. 7; C&F C5-6


Week 4

OVERHEADS for Week 4 are posted HERE.

15: magistracies and the senate cont'd.

16: the provinces. Jones Chap. 8.  C&F C9-10, C13-32, L5, L7, L9, M6, M8, N8-9, O1, O10, O15

17: the provinces cont'd.

19: the army and finance. Jones Chaps. 9 and 10; C&F C3-4; M5. 


Week 5

OVERHEADS for Week 5 are posted HERE

22: the army and finance cont'd. FIRST PAPER DUE.

23: Analysis: the Augustan reforms.  WH Chap. 2

24: Review



Part II. Culture and Society

Week 6

OVERHEADS for Week 6 are posted HERE

29: Overview.  WH Chap. 3; Jones Chap. 14

30: Vergil.  C&F B50, F1-3

31: Vergil.  C&F F4

Nov. 2: Vergil. C&F F5-6


Week 7

OVERHEADS for Week 7 are posted HERE

5: Horace.  C&F F7-10

6: Horace. C&F F11-17

7: Horace.  C&F F18-27, I2b

9: Ovid.  C&F F28-30


Week 8

OVERHEADS for Week 8 are posted HERE


13: Ovid.  C&F F31

14: Ovid.  C&F F32-43

16: Analysis: Augustan poetry.  WH Chap. 5


Week 9:

OVERHEADS for Week 9 are posted HERE

19: Augustan art and architecture.  Zanker Chap. 4; C&F E1-6, J6

20: Augustan art and architecture cont’d.  Zanker Chap. 5; C&F E7-17

21: Augustan art and architecture cont’d.  Zanker Chap. 6; C&F E18-19



Week 10

OVERHEADS for Week 10 are posted HERE

26: Augustan art and architecture cont’d.

27: Analysis: The Augustan building program.  WH Chap. 4.

28: religion.  Jones Chap. 13; C&F D1-13, I3, I5-18, J1a-e

30: religion cont'd. Analysis: Augustus as god.  WH Chap. 6; Zanker Chap. 8.  SECOND PAPER DUE 


Week 11

OVERHEADS for Week 11 are posted HERE

3: judicial system. Jones Chaps. 11 & 12; C&F D15-32, I33, I50

4: What was it like to live in Augustan Rome?  Jones Chap. 15; I1.  Optional: Zanker Chap. 7

5: The legacy of Augustus. C&F K1-5; WH Chap. 7

7: Summary and review

December 10 (Monday, 2:30-4:20 PM, in Thomson 125): FINAL EXAMINATION


Catalog Description: 
Detailed study of the history and culture of the reign of Augustus, the first Roman emperor (31 BC-AD 14). Includes readings in Augustan authors such as Vergil, Ovid, and Horace as well as the study of Augustan art and architecture. Offered: jointly with CLAS 330.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:07pm