Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Department ofClassics and Ancient
Mediterranean Studies

CAMS 33: Roman Civilization

CAMS 33: Roman Civilization

Roman Civilization (CAMS 033) provides a comprehensive survey of an ancient society whose impact continues to be felt across a range of modern cultures in the twenty-first century. For more than a millennium, the Romans ruled an empire that eventually spanned three continents (Europe, North Africa, the Near and Middle East). Studying their culture can inform our own understanding of modern life both nationally and internationally. Many ideas in such diverse areas as government, law, military organization and strategy, the calendar, social practices, urban life, literature, art, and architecture clearly derive from Roman practices. Furthermore, study of the Romans includes learning in detail about the geography and resources of a very large area of the world. Knowledge of the Romans and the similarities and important differences between their lives and ours also provide an opportunity to reflect on human values and contemporary culture. The course includes discussion of the origin of the Romans, how they saw it themselves, and the rather different picture painted by modern archaeology. How the Romans expanded and maintained their power with long periods of peace from what is now southern Scotland to North Africa, and from Gibraltar to the borders of India, and how their power waned in the later Roman period illustrates many aspects of political institutional design. Roman society included various social groups, from slaves to the wealthy members of the traditional nobility. The opportunity for movement from slave to freedman or freedwoman to full citizen helps explain why for generations Roman rule was widely accepted. Roman urban life, with its public meeting halls, baths, arenas, race courses, theaters, luxurious houses and apartment blocks spread across Europe, North Africa, and the Near East. The most influential works of Rome’s poets, such as Vergil’s “Aeneid” and Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” remain rich sources for current writers, composers, and choreographers. Roman historians and thinkers also continue to inform and inspire. Religious beliefs and the causes for the growth of Christianity likewise remain relevant to the present.


Associate Teaching Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Pronouns: He/Him