Ancient Rome and America: The Legacy of Republic and Empire
Is America the New Rome? Are we an expanding empire doomed to internal decadence and eventual collapse? A fracturing Republic polarized by bitter factionalism and dysfunctional politics? What can we today learn from ancient Rome? This class explores the complicated meanings, resonances, and legacies of ancient Rome in American history and culture. We will read selections from Roman authors such as Livy, Cicero, and Tacitus, as well as later thinkers such as Machiavelli, Gibbon, and the Founding Fathers. We will also study the enduring influence of Rome in architecture (capitols, stadiums), movies (Ben-Hur, Gladiator), and popular culture (Caesars Palace, Star Wars), and conclude by scrutinizing some of the current commentary on America as a New Rome.
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