Course No. 3350
.M4V, AVC, 500 kbps, 854x480
English, AAC, 160 kbps, 2 Ch
+ PDF Guidebook
Lecturer: Gregory S. Aldrete, Ph.D.
The Roman Republic was one of the most breathtaking civilizations in world history. Over the course of about 500 years, a modest city-state developed an innovative system of government and expanded into far-flung territories across Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. This powerful civilization inspired America’s founding fathers, gifted us a blueprint for amazing engineering innovations, left a vital trove of myths, and has inspired the human imagination for 2,000 years.
How did Rome become so powerful? This mystery has vexed historians from the ancient Greek writer Polybius to 21st century scholars. Today, removed as we are from the Roman Republic, historians also wonder what it was like to be a Roman citizen in that amazing era. Beyond the familiar names of Romulus, Caesar, Octavian, Brutus, and Mark Antony, what was life like for the ordinary people? And what did the Italians, the Greeks, the Gauls, and other conquered peoples think of this world power?
The Great Courses is pleased to shed new light on this history. The Rise of Rome explores what made this state so powerful—and offers insight into why the republic cast such a long shadow over Western civilization. Taught by Professor Gregory S. Aldrete of the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay, these 24 exciting lectures tell the captivating story of Rome’s astonishing rise, from the monarchy of the eighth century B.C.E. to the collapse of the republic and ending just before its rebirth into an empire. You’ll witness the historical turning points, meet the amazing players, and get a feel for what it was like for everyday Romans, all in an effort to understand the story of Rome as it grew from a myth into an empire, examining in detail the less familiar history of the republic prior to its world-altering imperial transformation.
Here, you will trace the early history of Rome from its modest beginnings, through its violent development, to the pinnacle of its stunning triumph over the Mediterranean, and finally to the moment the republic dramatically collapsed under the strain of its own accomplishments, only to rise again in the new form of empire. You will examine the many well-known dramatic events of early Roman history, from the skirmishes with the neighboring Etruscans to the assassination of Julius Caesar. You will also consider the ordinary aspects of Roman daily life—what they ate, what games they played, the religious rituals they observed, and more, all in an effort to understand the texture of daily life.
Along the way, you will encounter an array of intriguing figures from both history and legend, from Romulus and Remus to Lucretia to Scipio to Pompey the Great, as well as the lives of often overlooked everymen and everywomen—the slaves, soldiers, farmers, women, and children of Rome and its territories. Tapping into our latest historical understanding and leveraging new technology, The Rise of Rome takes you inside the breathtaking story of the Roman Republic.
Witness the Drama of Roman History
Rome is arguably the most influential city in Western history, and its influence is still present nearly everywhere one looks today—in our language, our laws, and even how we tell time. But one reason the Roman Republic has captured our imaginations for the past 2,000 years is that its story is filled with high drama: scandals and betrayals, love affairs and murders, battles and glory.
Professor Aldrete traces this thrilling story across the centuries, starting with the mythic beginnings of the city-state:
See how Virgil’s Aeneid connects the rise of Rome with the legacy of Greek culture.
Delve into the competition between the brothers Romulus and Remus for control of Rome.
Consider how stories like the rape of the Sabine women and the tale of Lucretia offer insight into Roman values and culture.
Explore the culture of the Etruscans to examine Rome’s relationship with its neighbors.
After witnessing Rome’s expansion over Italy, you will trace the wars that won the Romans far-flung territory—the Punic Wars, the conquest of Greece, invasions into Northern Africa, and expansion into Europe. Professor Aldrete does an excellent job of taking you into battles to show you the strategy and outcomes. For instance, after a devastating loss in the pivotal Battle of Cannae, you’ll discover how the Romans’ ability to rebuild and refocus their military power, even after defeat, made them such a formidable and resilient force.
Despite all this success, you’ll also see how competition among politicians, generals, and warlords back in Rome sowed the seeds for the Republic’s collapse. The course rounds out with a stunning series of lectures on the rise of Julius Caesar, his assassination, and the competition between Octavian and Mark Antony for control of the republic. Find out how the dramatic stories many of us are familiar with—like the love affair of Mark Antony and Cleopatra—were part of a larger unfolding of events that led to the fall of the republic and the beginnings of imperial Rome.
Go inside This Fascinating Civilization
Interspersed with the operatic narrative of Roman history are fascinating explorations of the texture of daily life within the republic, giving you a sense of what life was like for men and women whose lives played out against the backdrop of the events that fill history books. For instance, you will:
Discover the different strata within Roman society—citizens and noncitizens, patricians and plebeians, soldiers and farmers, and more.
Examine the institution of slavery to see who the Roman slaves were, where they came from, and what daily life was like for them.
Explore what ordinary people ate, where they lived, and what types of employment they had.
Survey some of the many social challenges society faced, including veterans who returned from wars penniless, having lost their farms.
Find out what we know about Roman women and their domestic lives.
One common theme running through these lectures is that the Romans continually faced massive social and political challenges. For instance, the Romans professed to admire farmers as being natural, hardworking, salt-of-the-earth citizens, but throughout the years of the republic, farmers constantly struggled to make ends meet, often losing their land if they were called into battle. The social upheaval from political challenges eventually caught up to the leaders of the republic, and the concerns of daily life drove historic political changes.
Unpack the Rise—and Fall—of the Republic
One of the most fascinating questions in this course centers on the nature of Roman expansion. Was it deliberate or accidental? Was the Roman administration a well-run machine designed to expand into an empire, or did the Romans expand their territory through accidental circumstances?
As you’ll discover, a case can be made for either argument. By the end of the republic, it’s clear that whether it was accidental or not, Rome eventually became a victim of its own success. Professor Aldrete characterizes the factionalism and competition within the government—introducing you to the likes of Marius, Sulla, and Cicero—and he shows how these divisions culminated with the assassination of Julius Caesar, the competition to fill the power vacuum, and the dissolution of the republic.
From city-state to grand republic to tragic end, this course takes you on a thrilling journey through the rise of the republic and the dramatic changes that transformed a republican government into an empire of unprecedented power. Despite what you think you know about the Roman Republic, The Rise of Rome is sure to offer a bounty of new insights and can build a foundation for the next stage of Roman history: The Roman Empire and its eventual collapse.
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