The City and the Empire. War, Memory and Civic Identity in Republican Rome


Course Objective

At the end of the course the successful student will be able to:
- Intelligently discuss the cultural implications of the Roman conquest
wars and the influence of the conquest wars on the urban landscape of
- Define, explain, and apply current theories regarding memory and civic
identity in Roman society.
- Identify, distinguish between, and critically analyze a variety of
sources, both textual (literary, historical) and material (visual,
- Delineate, research, and present in written form an individual,
argumentative and clearly formulated academic research project, based on
a critical use of primary and secondary source materials.
- Communicate in an international academic setting, in English.
- Present your research results to an academic audience of peers, in a
conference paper.

Course Content

From the fourth century BC onwards, Rome developed from its modest
origins as a small city-state on the banks of the Tiber into an empire
that spanned the borders of the known world. This imperial success
changed and shaped the history of the Mediterranean, but it also had a
profound influence on the city of Rome itself and on the identity and
self-identification of its inhabitants. In this rapidly changing
society, it was not so easy to determine what was Roman and what was
not: hostile states were turned into allies and former enemies became
fellow citizens. In the process, foreign peoples, gods, traditions and
customs made their way into the city. Roman authors reflect on this
diversity and inherent pluralistic nature of their city. Cicero, for
example, famously described the Roman citizenry with the term dua
patriae: every Roman had in fact two fatherlands, one being his place of
birth, the other being the Roman Republic. This ethnic and cultural
diversity, established through centuries of conquest, was an essential
element of Roman life and was actively remembered in literature, art,
architecture and religious practice.

In this course, we will explore the various ways the conquest wars of
the Roman Republic were remembered and materialized in the urban
landscape of Republican Rome, using a wide variety of literary and
archaeological sources. We will analyze, for example, the solemn state
rituals for Jupiter Optimus Maximus that preceded and succeeded all war
efforts, but will also concentrate on the cult introductions that were
the result of these efforts. We will then discuss the diverse (and often
violent) nature of Rome’s origin stories, and the way these first war
accounts were relevant for later Roman society. Another central topic
will be the triumphus: the elaborate victory parade that brought a
commander with his troops, spoils and captives back to Rome, along a
triumphal route with monuments that became lasting memories of Rome’s
success. Finally, we will take a closer look at the families that shaped
this history of conquest. How did Roman aristocrats claim a place in the
history of the conquest wars and how were their individual stories and
different patriae made into one story of Roman success?

Teaching Methods


Method of Assessment

- Active participation and assignments (AVV)
- Take home exam: 25%
- Pilot: 10%
- Conference paper: 25%
- Response to conference paper (AVV)
- Final essay: 50%


To be announced.

Target Audience

This course is accessible for (Research) Master students in (Ancient)
History; Classics and Ancient Civilisations; Heritage, Memory and

Custom Course Registration

This course is taught at the UvA by drs. A.M. Hermans (UvA) (subject code 172410076Y). Module registration with a UvaNetID at the UvA is required. Please note that course registration periods at the UvA and VU differ. For a ‘step-by-step guide to course and exam registration’ and the ‘dates for course and exam registration’ please consult the ‘course and exam registration’-page via the ‘A-Z list’ of your MA programme on

General Information

Course Code L_AAMAOHS043
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator dr. A.M. Hermans
Teaching Staff

Practical Information

You cannot register for this course yourself; your faculty's education office carries out registration

Teaching Methods Seminar
Target audiences

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