Not currently offered

Credit points: 15

Subject outline

Roman emperors are famous for their cruelty, extravagance and presiding over lavish spectacles such as the gladiatorial games. For example, in 107 CE, the emperor Trajan celebrated a military victory with 120 days of entertainment in the Colosseum, in which 11,000 gladiatorsfought and 10,000 wild animals were killed. This subject focusses on the emperors of Rome, and considers what makes a successful and popular emperor and conversely what makes a failed emperor and drives opponents to assassination. It investigates the way that emperors manipulated events like the gladiatorial games for the sake of popularity; and the paradox that gladiators and other performers could be both glamours celebrities and also despised rabble.We conclude with Commodus, an emperor-gladiator, and a character in the films Gladiator (2000) and The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), who tried unsuccessfully to link the highest and lowest roles of ancient Roman society.

SchoolSchool of Humanities & Social Sciences

Credit points15

Subject Co-ordinatorRhiannon Evans

Available to Study Abroad StudentsYes

Subject year levelYear Level 2 - UG

Exchange StudentsYes

Subject particulars

Subject rules



Incompatible subjectsN/A

Equivalent subjectsN/A

Special conditionsN/A


Resource TypeTitleResource RequirementAuthor and YearPublisher
Readings Lives of the CaesarsPrescribedSuetonius (translated by Catharine Edwards) 2008. Oxford World Classics.

Graduate capabilities & intended learning outcomes

01. Have key knowledge of the history, society and culture of Imperial Rome: namely the chronology, significant historical events and gradual social change of the period 14 CE-192 CE

Lectures, tutorials, quizzes, essays
Related graduate capabilities and elements:
Discipline -Specific Knowledge and Skills (Discipline-Specific Knowledge and Skills)

02. Be able to speak fluently about Roman society

Tutorials, workshops
Related graduate capabilities and elements:
Literacies and Communication Skills (Writing,Cultural Literacy)
Personal and Professional Skills (Teamwork including leadership and working in groups)

03. Critically analyse the evidence for a pre-modern imperial culture, particularly the ability to discuss social status and the precise forms of political power

Tutorial, workshops, essays
Related graduate capabilities and elements:
Literacies and Communication Skills (Writing,Cultural Literacy)
Inquiry and Analytical Skills (Inquiry/Research)

04. Be able to write fluently about Roman society

Related graduate capabilities and elements:
Literacies and Communication Skills (Writing,Cultural Literacy)

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