01009 - Roman History (A-C)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students know the issues and the most important events in Roman history (about politics, institutions, mindset, religion, economics) and can frame them critically as well. Students know the basic methodology of historical research and analysis of literary and documentary sources, with particular focus on historiography and epigraphy. They can address the main historical questions with awareness of their transformation over time and of the main scientific approaches.

Course contents

This is a six-month course (first semester).

1. Class lectures:

a. Introductory part: the main methodological problems in the reconstruction of Roman history: documentary sources and historiography;

b. Analysis of some case studies of Roman history and cross-cutting issues related to politics, institutions, mentality, religion, economics. Analysis of ancient documentation and of the historiographic debate; case study analysis is meant to facilitate a critical study of the themes and events of Roman history.

2. Students will be asked to study on the textbook the lines of development of Roman history, from the origins, also paying particular attention to the ancient documentation.

3. Further insights on themes and problems of the Republic, the Empire and Late Antiquity through autonomous reading.


1. Teaching materials presented during the classes and progressively available on the online page of the course unit
2. Autonomous study on both of the following textbooks:

  • Giovanni Alberto Cecconi, La città e l'impero, Una storia del mondo romano dalle origini a Teodosio il Grande, Roma, Carocci editore 2021.
  • Rene Pfeilschifter, Il tardoantico, Il Dio unico e i molti sovrani (Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi, Mappe), Torino: Einaudi 2015, chap. 4-6.

3. Autonomous study of one of these essays:

  • N. Terrenato, La grande trattativa, L'espansione di Roma in Italia tra storia e archeologia, Roma: Carocci, 2022
  • T. Gnoli, Le guerre dell'imperatore Giuliano, Bologna, Il Mulino 2015.

Non-attending students shall study the whole textbook by Pfeilschifter, not only Chap. 4-6.
Non-attending students will prepare an additional reading to be chosen from the following list:
S. Segenni/C. Letta, Roma e le sue province, Roma, Carocci 2015.
F. Carlà/A. Marcone, Economia e finanza a Roma, Bologna, Il Mulino 2011.
Depending on the specific interests or needs of the students, it is possible to agree on different essays.
Erasmus or International students who have difficulties with scientific essays, manuals or materials in Italian, can agree with the teacher a special reading list in other languages.
Everyone is recommended to use a historical atlas among the many available in the library of the Department of History Culture Civilization - Section of Ancient History, via Zamboni 38, 4th floor, under CONS ATL.

Teaching methods

Lectures focusing on the analysis of textual documentary and literary sources with specific attention on epigraphic sources. Students interaction will be welcomed.

Assessment methods

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.
Assessment will be carried out, through an oral exam, aimed at testing if students can demonstrate:
Knowledge of the development of Roman history, from the origins to the Late Antiquity and the institutional aspects of the Roman world;
Knowledge of the methodology of analysis of ancient sources and documentation also based on the interpretations of modern bibliography;
the ability to use such knowledge to critically identify events, problems and themes of Roman history, also in the light of the materials developed in class and/or self-prepared readings;
capacity of oral expression.
Grading criteria:
Excellent / very good:
comprehensive and analytical exposition of historical events and institutional issues in all three responses;
specific and critical recall to the sources behind the reconstruction and the main issues of the scientific debate;
synthetic organic vision of transversal themes;
expressive and specific language skills.
Good / satisfactory:
concise description and synthetic commentary on the events and themes proposed in all three responses;
constant reference to sources and to scientific debate, even if in essence;
awareness of the cross-cutting development lines; correct language, even if not always appropriate.
basic illustration of the exam material with some circumscribed gap or error in only one of the questions;
critical analysis of sources only at the examiner's solicitude;
uncertainty in the reference framework or in evaluating historical development lines or insecurity in correctly explaining transversal themes;
correct but partially inappropriate language.
Lacks in knowledge of events and lines of historical development in more than one question;
lack of critical analysis of sources, gaps in the analysis of sources and poor awareness of analytical methods;
poor orientation within the overall reference framework and limited ability to describe and explain cross-themes and issues;
inappropriate or incorrect language.

Teaching tools

Power points or PDFs possibly presented during the lessons will be available on the web site of this course.

Office hours

See the website of Tommaso Gnoli