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Study information

Ancient Sources (Material Evidence): Brave New Rome of Augustus

Module titleAncient Sources (Material Evidence): Brave New Rome of Augustus
Module codeCLA1354
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr Irene Salvo (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The Augustan Age is seen as one of the turning points in the history of Rome, Italy and the Ancient Mediterranean. How did Augustus manage to embody both tradition and innovation, continuity and novelty? Were the great building programs that transformed Rome into an imperial capital, celebrated, or were the Romans concerned that this was a demonstration of personal power? In this module you will consider key issues of the Augustan Age, the uses and definition of propaganda, and the ancient viewer.

Module aims - intentions of the module

  • You will consider: What models are drawn on to create the new capital city worthy of empire? How is the art and architecture used to rewrite history and bring in new ideals where gods mingle with mortals and myth becomes reality? Can we begin to understand the effect of the new structures on the Roman population? How did the building programme refocus the centres of activity and redirect the movement and gaze of the city? In what sense is the building programme innovative and to what extent is it simply mirroring trends of other great cities with similar types of rule? Is it a monument to immortality?
  • This module also provides an introduction into how to use and analyse visual and material evidence as a historical source, drawing on key texts, including poetry and the Res Gestae.
  • You will engage in in-depth thinking into the underlying aims of and influences on the building programme, the monuments and art of Augustan Rome.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe and evaluate the changes which Augustus brought about in the city of Rome and the desired as well as actual impact of the transformation
  • 2. Demonstrate an understanding of how to use the physical and artistic environment and particularly public monuments to enrich the history of the period
  • 3. Examine more complex themes connected to imperialism, imagery as a political tool and theoretical models which help in accessing the experience of the ancient viewer

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Use, analyse and evaluate visual and material evidence as a major source for understanding the ancient world
  • 5. Demonstrate advanced academic and library skills, as well as a critical ability in assessing more general approaches to the uses of art and architecture by those in power, including ideas about visualising and mythologising history

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Demonstrate independent and group study skills in research and presentation of findings
  • 7. Select and organise relevant material,present a strong argument in oral and written form, and discuss issues in a peer group

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Introduction and historical background
  • Achieving immortality: monument & text
  • What's in a face: the image of youth
  • Campus Martius: Augustan Theme Park
  • The Ara Pacis and the new Classicism?
  • Palatine: inviting gods into the home
  • New districts of Rome & Imperial cult
  • Rewriting history: Augustan Forum
  • The New Women: Cleopatra & Livia
  • Augustus as seen from Abroad
  • Mussolini: the legacy of empire

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 22Lectures (11 x 2 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Seminars (5 x 1 hours)
Guided Independent Study123Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Oral presentation5-10 minutes1-7Oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay402000 words1-7Mark and written comments
Source commentary601500 words1-7Mark and written comments

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-7Referral/deferral period
Source comentarySource commentary1-7Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Key Text

  • Res gestae divi Augusti. English and Latin: text translation and commentary. By Alison E. Cooley. Cambridge, UK ; New York : CUP, 2009.

Core Set Texts:

  • G.K. Galinsky, Augustan culture: an interpretive introduction (Princeton, N.J 1996).
  • T. Habinek, A. Schiesaro (eds.), The Roman Cultural Revolution (CUP 1997).
  • K.A. Raaflaub, M. Toher (eds.), Between Republic and Empire: Interpretations of Augustus and his Principate (Berkeley 1990).
  • P. Zanker, The Power and Images in the Age of Augustus (1988).

Other Recommended Reading:

  • M. Beard, J. Henderson, Classical Art from Greece to Rome (2001).
  • Clarke, John R., Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans. Visual Representation and Non-Elite Viewers in Italy, 100 B.C. - A.D. 315 (Berkeley 2003).
  • M. Biddiss, M. Wyke (eds.), The uses and abuses of Antiquity (1999).
  • J. Elsner, Art and the Roman Viewer (Cambridge 1995).
  • J. Elsner, Art and Text in Roman Culture (Cambridge 1996).
  • D. Kleiner, Roman Sculpture (Yale UP 1992).
  • J. Lott, The Neighborhoods of Augustan Rome (CUP 2004).
  • Powell, Roman Poetry and Propaganda in the Age of Augustus (1992).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Classics sources Augustus Rome architecture Art Urbanism

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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