|The Roman Empire: Civil Society Becomes Multicultural
For centuries the Pax Romana maintained a stable, unified system of law, politics and civilized life from Arabian sands to Scottish lochs. But all was not well at the beating heart of civilization, for they had not solved the problem of succession.
Along with meeting mad Nero and Caligula, thoughtful Claudius, energetic Hadrian, and philosophical Marcus Aurelius, we’ll glance at Roman art, civil engineering, language, literature, law, philosophy and religion. We’ll look into how Romans enjoyed a domestic and public life not matched for comfort by middle classes until recent centuries, because slaves labored to keep citizens in the good life. But prosperity always destroys civic virtue and in the end society lacked cohesion needed to absorb onrushing refugees.
Week 1: The Augustan Age, the Principate (27 BCE~192 CE). Augustus “Golden Age” and the Julio-Claudian Dynasty,14-68 CE
Week 2: the Flavian Emperors, 69-96 CE; and the Adoptive Emperors 96-192 CE, called the “Silver Age”. Rome as imperial capital, the Empire as a unity
Class 3: Roman Religion and Philosophy. State religion plus the major cults and mystery religions (Eleusis, Cybele, Isis, Mithras). The major secular schools, including Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Neo-Platonism,
Class 4~5: Life & Art. Government, civic life, trade, mathematics, society, literature, art and architecture, education, food, sports and games.
Class 6: Empire in decline (after 192 CE), Military revolution and government, the “Barracks Emperors”, the split of Empire, the rise of Christianity, and the end of the Roman Empire in the West.
Douglas Kenning (PhD, Edinburgh) has taught at universities in Tunisia, Japan, and Italy. Besides a university professor, he has been a biologist, actor, army officer, Manhattan taxi driver, academic administrator, and writer. He divides each year between the Bay Area...lecturing on Mediterranean histories and cultures, and Sicily...where he runs Sicily Tour, a small tour guide business.