58505 - Social History of the Ancient World (1)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the Course the student  will know the social history of the greek and roman world and he can understand and interact  with the present storiographic debate.  The student will be able to contextualize and comment upon the specific literary sources by means of  a personal knowledge of the  greek and roman language original texts. Furthermore he will know the structure of the greek and roman society as well as the importance of gender and identity definition involved in the social and cultural debate of that time according to their structural components and historical evolution. He will be able to deal with texts and data according to personal interpretative perspectives, and can synthetically organize  and classify complex informations and problems in a consistent manner.

Course contents

In the Roman mentality, the consideration of the work seems to connote itself differently according to the ideology of the various social classes.

The comparison between literary sources and epigraphic documentation, on the other hand, returns a non-homogeneous and apparently contradictory picture.

This analysis also suggests questions concerning different orders of considerations:

-the "compatibility" between professions and social groups;

-a positive conception of work among those belonging to the lower social classes, perceived as a source of pride and a source of prestige and social distinction;

-belonging to a professional category or to a one  collegium as an opportunity to define a positive social identity contrasting with the existence of a social status hierarchy among the work activities;

-the acquisition and practice of a profession as an opportunity for literacy.

These reflections will be the subject of an introductory lesson to the problem.

Here we want to fix the attention on  particular cases and belonging to very distant plans.

The first focuses on the figure of the physician, object of antithetical social consideration, but, at the same time, professional category documented by a considerably greater number of epigraphic documents compared to that of other activities.

In the next five lessons, attention will be focused on:

agricultural and livestock activities


craft activities

professions in the world of shows

female professions

child labor

The last aspect on which attention will be focused will be the significant presence in the Roman society of collegia, their role in the world of work and the reasons that have favored their development and diffusion (three lessons).

Particular attention will be given to the cases of the collegia dei centonari, fabri, dendrophori, libitinari (two lessons).

The first lecture will be devoted to the analysis of the historical research methodology.

lessons will take place on monday, tuesday and wednedsday from 11 to 1 pm, in the Laboratorio informatico 2, via Zamboni 34, ground floor.


1) Lessons Notes.

2) Reading of:

- Gabriella Poma, Riflessioni sulla storia antica, in La storia antica
Metodi e fonti per lo studio
, a cura di G. Poma, Il Mulino, Bologna 2016, pp. 7-25.

- Alessandro Cristofori, La documentazione, in A. Marcone (ed.) Storia del lavoro in Italia. L’età romana. Liberi, semiliberi e schiavi in una società premoderna, Roma 2016, pp. 35-76.

Two items to choose from the following:

E. Cantarella, Qualche considerazione sul lavoro femminile a Pompei, Saitabi, 49, 1999, pp. 259-272;

S. Castagnetti, I collegia della Campania, in Forme di aggregazione nel mondo romano, a cura di Elio Lo Cascio e Giovanna D. Merola, Bari, Edipuglia, 2007, pp. 223-241;

A. Cristofori, C. Salvaterra, La ricerca italiana del XX secolo sugli artigiani, i commercianti e le loro organizzazioni professionali nel mondo romano (reperibile in academia.edu)

D. Faoro, I collegia professionali nel bellunese: il caso dei dendrophori. Stato degli studi e proposte di riflessione, Archivio Storico di Belluno, Feltre e Cadore, LXXV, n. 324, pp. 5-18.

Students not attending lessons, must contact the professor (daniela.rigato@unibo.it)

For those not attending lessons, the reading the following papers is provided:

- Mauro De Nardis,Terminologia e concetto di “lavoro” in età romana, in A. Marcone (ed.) Storia del lavoro in Italia. L’età romana. Liberi, semiliberi e schiavi in una società premoderna, Roma 2016, pp. 79-­90.

-Cristofori, A., Lavoro e identità sociale, in A. Marcone (ed.) Storia del lavoro in Italia. L’età romana. Liberi, semiliberi e schiavi in una società premoderna, Roma 2016, pp. 149-174.

-Rigato D., Medicines, doctors and patients in Greek and Roman Society, in M. Malatesta (ed.), Doctors and Patients. History, Representation, Comunication from Antiquity to the Present, San Francisco (USA) 2015, pp. 23-51.

F. Diosono, Collegia. Le associazioni professionali nel mondo romano, Edizioni Quasar, Roma 2007.

Teaching methods

Direct lessons in classroom.

Assessment methods

The exam will take the form of an oral discussion and the student will be assessed according to the knowledge he has acquired, his ability to provide a clear summary of the topics covered and his critical handling of the material. He will be expected to refer to both the exam bibliography and the texts read and discussed during the lectures.

The assessment will concentrate particularly on the skill displayed by the student in handling the sources and material in the exam bibliography and his ability to find and use information and examples to illustrate and correlate the various themes and problems addressed in the course.

The assessment will thus examine the student's:

- factual knowledge of the subject;
- ability to summarise and analyse themes and concepts;
- familiarity with the terminology associated with the subject and his ability to use it effectively.

Top marks will be awarded to a student displaying an overall understanding of the topics discussed during the lectures, combined with a critical approach to the material and a confident and effective use of the appropriate terminology.
Average marks will be awarded to a student who has memorized the main points of the material and is able to summarise them satisfactorily and provide an effective critical commentary, while failing to display a complete command of the appropriate terminology.
A student will be deemed to have failed the exam if he displays significant errors in his understanding and failure to grasp the overall outlines of the subject, together with a poor command of the appropriate terminology.

The student will have to answer for three questions concerning:

-the handbooks,

-the items discussed during the lectures.

Teaching tools

Hand-outs; ppt concerning the different studied topics.

Office hours

See the website of Daniela Rigato