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HSTAM 335 A: The Age of Nero

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:30am - 12:20pm
* *
Joint Sections: 
CLAS 335 A
Alain M. Gowing

Syllabus Description:

Sesterce of Nero, obverse: Portrait of the Emperor (courtesy ArtStor

The Age of Nero

Winter Quarter 2021 ❋ Taught asynchronously through recorded lectures (no live class please ignore the class meeting times in the Time Schedule!!)



Professor Alain M. Gowing

A complete syllabus for this class will be available prior to the start of Winter Quarter. 

Course description: This class entails an overview of the history and culture of the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero (AD 54-68), a man celebrated in both ancient and modern times for his many eccentricities and contradictions. In addition to reading the primary historical evidence for Nero (esp. the Roman historian Tacitus), we will read selections from the best-known authors who wrote under Nero -- for example, the epic poet Lucan, the satirist Persius, the 'novelist' Petronius, the philosopher-politician Seneca -- as well as investigate the artistic and architectural achievements of the period (esp. Nero's famous Golden House). No previous knowledge of Roman history is expected or required.  NB: CLAS 335 counts for VLPA credit; HSTAM 335, for I&S credit.  This is a W class: all participants will receive Writing (W) credit.

Course requirements:

Note that all assignments are will be administered through and submitted on Canvas. 

A) (30%) successful completion of at least 4 of 8 short, weekly ‘response’ papers.
B) (40%) 2 quizzes, each 20%.
C) (30%) final essay (due on or before the day of the final exam).  Details to be provided.

Required texts:

  • Griffin, M.T. NeroThe End of a Dynasty.  Routledge 1984. [available online through UW Libraries]
  • Lucan.  Civil War.  S. H. Braund, trans.  Oxford World Classics.
  • Petronius. The Satyricon.Seneca. The Apocolocyntosis. J.P. Sullivan,trans. Penguin Classics.
  • Tacitus. The Annals. A.J. Woodman, trans.  Hackett. [e-version available from publisher]
  • Barrett, A.A., et al. (edd.).  The Emperor Nero.  A Guide to the Ancient Sources.  Princeton 2016. [available online through the UW Libraries]

Please note: I understand that under the current circumstances, you may prefer or even require to have all our texts in electronic form.  I have indicated here when I am aware of e-versions (to purchase or free), but the situation is changing rapidly, so texts not listed here as available electronically may well be or will be available electronically by the start of WQ. Regardless, you will need right away the Griffin, Barrett, and Tacitus.




Catalog Description: 
Detailed study of the history and culture of the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero (AD 54-68). Includes readings in the historian Tacitus' account of Nero, as well as in authors such as Petronius, Lucan, and Seneca, and consideration of the artistic and architectural achievements of the period. Recommended: HSTAM 111, HSTAM 302, HSTAM 312, or HSTAM 313; CLAS 122, CLAS 320, CLAS 329, or CLAS 330 Offered: jointly with CLAS 335; AWSpS.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 28, 2020 - 4:50am