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Level 6

6AACHI07 Augustus: Power & Propaganda

Credit value: 30 credits
Module convenor/tutor 2018/19: Professor Dominic Rathbone 
Teaching pattern: 20 x 2-hour lectures (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 3-hour exam (100%)Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Assessment pattern for single semester Study Abroad students
  • 6AACH07A Augustus: Power and Propaganda I (Study Abroad) - Semester 1 only
  • 6AACH07B Augustus: Power and Propaganda I (Study Abroad) - Semester 2 only

A single semester version of the module may be available in certain years to Study Abroad students. Students should check the Study Abroad module catalogue for the relevant year for availability.

Assessment: 2 x essay of 2,500 words (the higher marked essay is weighted at 70% while the lower is weighted at 30%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Assessment pattern for Graduate Diploma students

Assessment: 3 x 3,000-word essay (100%, essays worth 1/3 each)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Prerequisites: None; no knowledge of Latin or Greek is required or tested (but what you do know will help you). 

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand, there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

This module examines the establishment by Augustus of the autocratic regime known as the Principate, and the political and social consequences in Rome, Italy and the empire in the period 31 BC - AD 14. The primary aim is to study, and to attempt to distinguish between, the realities of power and the ways in which Augustus sought to influence public perception of his position through constitutional arrangements and written and visual media.

Among extant evidence the later historical accounts of Augustus' reign are fundamental, but close attention will also be paid to contemporary poetry, inscriptions, laws and coinage, and also to art and architecture - in particular the Augustan building programme in Rome - in the light of ongoing archaeological research.

The main topics include: the politics and settlements of 30-19 BC, and the royal building phase; the structure and workings of the imperial government: emperor, senate, decision-making; social and moral reforms; the new army and strategy, and victory monuments; the plebs of Rome, urban amenities; the succession; religious developments: shrines, altars and rituals, and emperor worship; literature: loyalty and dissidence; and, running throughout, the developing power and changing image of Augustus.

Suggested Introductory Reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory. All studied in English translation:

  • Cassius Dio, Roman History Books 51-6 (Penguin translation as The Roman History: The Reign of Augustus).
  • Res Gestae Divi Augusti: The Achievements of the Divine Augustus - available in several translations, especially in ed. M.G.L. Cooley, The Age of Augustus (Lactor 17; 2003).

Other historical works, inscriptions and extracts from Augustan literature in English translation, and pictures and plans of works of art and architecture, as provided on hand-outs through the course; note that many of these, and other sources of use, are translated in Lactor 17 (above).

Background reading

  • W. Eck, Augustus (English translation 2003).
  • J.S. Richardson, Augustan Rome 44 BC to AD 14 (2012).
  • ed. F. Millar & E. Segal, Caesar Augustus: Seven Aspects (1984).
  • A.H.M. Jones, Augustus (1970).
  • K. Galinsky, Augustan Culture: an Interpretative Introduction (1996).
  • P. Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (1988)
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