Course Syllabus



Classics 330/HSTAM 330: The Age of Augustus

Winter Quarter 2020 -- MTWThF 9:30-10:20, Thomson Hall 134

5 credits ** satisfies VLPA/I&S  ** Optional W class (see below)

Professor A. M. Gowing
Office: Denny M262C
Phone: 543-2266 (Dept. of Classics)

Winter Quarter Office Hr.: M 10:30-11:30 AM and by appointment; note, too, Th conference hour (see below)


Description: This course will examine all aspects of the Age of Augustus (31 BC - AD 14), a period of profound political and cultural change that permanently altered the course of Roman history. The history, politics, literature, art, architecture, and religion of the period will all come under scrutiny as we investigate the various ways in which Rome's first emperor sought to repair and redirect a society fragmented by years of civil war -- and the various ways in which the citizens of Rome reacted to the Augustan reforms. The readings will be drawn largely from primary texts, including Augustus' own account of his rule (the Res Gestae); selections from the works of Vergil, Ovid, Horace, and other Augustan writers; Suetonius' Life of Augustus; and numerous inscriptions illustrating various aspects of life in Rome as well as in the provinces.

Course goals: At the conclusion of this class students will have:

  • learned to think critically and knowledgeably about an important period in Roman history specifically and western civilization generally
  • acquired the skill to evaluate and analyze a wide variety of historical evidence relevant to the period, from inscriptions to coins to literary texts and material remains
  • imaginatively re-created in writing a piece of 'lost' historical evidence
  • learned to think critically about and acquired an appreciation for the impressive literary and artistic legacy of the Augustan period.

Required texts:

  • Coursepack with readings from K. Chisholm and J. Ferguson, edd. Rome. The Augustan Age. Oxford 1981. Available at Univ. Bookstore with other texts.  [PLEASE NOTE: you should purchase the hardcopy of this, but for your convenience, I'm making scanned pdf's of this available HERE.  But this is NOT meant to be a substitute for having the hardcopy!]
  •  A.H.M. Jones. Augustus. New York and London 1970.
  • P. Zanker. The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus. Alan Shapiro, trans. Michigan 1988.
  • A. Wallace-Hadrill. Augustan Rome. Bristol Classical Press 2018 (2nd edition).  

Requirements: 1) Regular class attendance is strongly urged (5%)

            2) Midterm (25%) and Final Examination (30%) Both exams will consist of short answer and brief essay questions. While the final exam will focus principally on material covered in the second half of the course, familiarity with the issues covered in the first half will be assumed.

            3) Two 3-5 page papers (40%, 20% each).  Information including instructions, grading criteria, and suggested topics for each paper will be posted to Canvas early in the quarter. The principal aim of each paper is to have you compose something (for example, a letter, fragment of a history, etc.) addressing a particular topic from the perspective of a person living in the Augustan period. Unless previously cleared with me, late papers will be penalized.

Thursday Conference: Unless you are otherwise notified, there will be no class meeting on Thursdays, but I will be available in my office during our regular class period (9:30-10:20 AM) for individual conferences.  PLEASE NOTE THREE EXCEPTIONS TO THIS: 1) there will be no conference (or class meeting) on Thursday, January 23 and Thursday, Feb. 27 and 2) we WILL meet as a class on Thursday,  March 5.

Optional W-Course: You may elect to take this as a W-Course. This will entail EITHER writing an additional paper along the lines of the required two (this 3rd paper will be due on or before the day of the final exam) OR if you prefer, you may elect -- in lieu of 3 shorter papers -- to write a 12-15 page research paper on a topic of your choice and approved by me (you should let me know of your wish to do this by Friday, January 17). A draft of this will be due in Week 8; the final draft is due at the next-to-last class meeting.  

Important UW policy-related things to know:

  • The UW's Religious Accommodations Policy: “Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy (Links to an external site.). Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (Links to an external site.).”
  • The UW's Student Conduct Code: "The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution. More information can be found online at" (Links to an external site.)
  • Access and Accommodation: Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

    If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or  (Links to an external site.)DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions.  Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS.  It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

  • Academic Integrity: University of Washington students are expected to practice high standards of academic and professional honesty and integrity as outlined here: (Links to an external site.)

Schedule of readings and lectures:

NB: It is a certainty that I will stray from this timetable (I’ve accounted for that in making the schedule), so consider this a rough guide to what your reading should be at any given time.  It should be clear from class – and I will remind you – where in the reading you should be.  You will want to have the relevant book and the coursepack with you when you come to class.   

☛NOTE: Overheads and PowerPoints shown in class will be made available HERE as they become relevant

☛Another NOTE: For a very select bibliography on Augustus, including some relevant websites, click HERE

Part I.  History and Politics

Week 1

OVERHEADS for Weeks 1 and 2 are posted HERE

Jan. 6: Introduction

7: The breakdown of the Republic.  Jones Chap. 1; C&F G2, G5.  Optional: Zanker Chap. 1

8: breakdown cont'd. Caesar's heir.  Jones Chap. 2; C&F B2-B12

10: The triumvirate (formation down to 35 BC).  Jones Chap. 3; C&F B13-B22, B50 and I39

Week 2

13: The triumvirate cont'd. (35 to Battle of Actium in 31).  C&F B24-B26

14: Analysis: the myth of Actium.  WH Chap. 1. Optional: Zanker Chap. 2

15: The 'restoration' of the Republic and the Augustan settlement.  Jones Chap. 4; C&F B27-B29

17: restoration cont'd (down to 19 BC).  C&F I39, B30-34; Zanker Chap. 3

Week 3

Overheads for Week 3 are posted HERE


21: the principate (19 BC - AD 14).  Views of Augustus; his death.  Jones Chap. 5; C&F A1, B35-49, B51-53

22: Augustus’ ‘constitutional’ position.  Jones Chap. 6; C&F C1


24: magistracies and the senate.  Jones Chap. 7; C&F C5-6

Week 4

Overheads for Week 4 are posted HERE.

27: magistracies and the senate cont'd.

28: the provinces. Jones Chap. 8.  C&F C9-10, C13-32, L5, L7, L9, M6, M8, N8-9, O1, O10, O15

29: the provinces cont'd.

31: the army and finance. Jones Chaps. 9 and 10; C&F C3-4; M5. 

Week 5

Overheads for Week 5 are posted HERE.

Feb. 3: the army and finance cont'd. FIRST PAPER DUE.

4: Analysis: the Augustan reforms.  WH Chap. 2


Part II. Culture and Society

7: Overview.  WH Chap. 3; Jones Chap. 14

Week 6

Overheads for Week 6 are posted HERE.

10: Vergil.  C&F B50, F1-3

11: Vergil.  C&F F4

12: Vergil. C&F F5-6

14: Horace.  C&F F7-10

Week 7

Overheads for Week 7 are posted HERE.


18: Horace. C&F F11-17

19: Horace.  C&F F18-27, I2b

21: Ovid.  C&F F28-30

Week 8

Overheads for Week 8 are posted HERE.

24: Ovid.  C&F F31

25: Ovid.  C&F F32-43

26: Analysis: Augustan poetry.  WH Chap. 5


28: NO CLASS (unavoidable meeting)

Week 9:

Overheads for Week 9 are posted HERE.

Mar. 2: Augustan art and architecture.  Zanker Chap. 4; C&F E1-6, J6

3: Augustan art and architecture cont’d.  Zanker Chap. 5; C&F E7-17

4: Augustan art and architecture cont’d.  Zanker Chap. 6; C&F E18-19

5: Augustan art and architecture cont’d.  NOTE THAT THIS WEEK WE MEET AS A CLASS ON THURSDAY!


6: Analysis: The Augustan building program.  WH Chap. 4.

Week 10

9: religion.  Jones Chap. 13; C&F D1-13, I3, I5-18, J1a-e.  SEE PANOPTO RECORDINGS FOR MY REMARKS ON THIS

10: religion cont'd. Analysis: Augustus as god.  WH Chap. 6; Zanker Chap. 8.  SECOND PAPER DUE 

11: judicial system. Jones Chaps. 11 & 12; C&F D15-32, I33, I50. SEE PANOPTO RECORDINGS FOR MY REMARKS ON THIS

13: What was it like to live in Augustan Rome?  Jones Chap. 15; I1.  Optional: Zanker Chap. 7; The legacy of Augustus. C&F K1-5; WH Chap. 7; Summary and review


March 18 (Wednesday): THE FINAL EXAMINATION for this class will be administered through Canvas, and will be available to you starting at 8 AM (and must be submitted by 9 PM).  Details on the Final Exam are available HERE; the exam itself is posted as an 'Assignment' HERE.  


Course Summary:

Date Details Due