The Roman Revolution: How Augustus Seized Power and Changed the World
This course explores the life and incredible achievements of Augustus, the first Roman emperor. Sickly and only eighteen years old, he was thrust into political affairs after Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC and posthumously named Octavius, as Augustus was then called, his heir. How did this 'boy' outsmart men with much more experience and ultimately become sole ruler of Rome's empire after the Battle of Actium in 31 BC? The course also examines the literature, art, and culture of the Augustan Age. Readings include selections from and works by the poets Horace, Virgil, Propertius, and Ovid, by historians Livy and Tacitus. There will also be weekly screenings of episodes from I, Claudius and Rome. Students who successfully complete this seminar will satisfy one half of the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.
Geoffrey Benson teaches in the Department of the Classics, and has been fascinated by the ancient Mediterranean world and ancient languages ever since he visited the Field Museum and the Oriental Institute in Chicago as an eight-year-old. He is currently working on a book about invisibility magic in Apuleius' The Golden Ass, an amazing work of prose fiction that was written in Latin around 160 AD, and is about a curious young man named Lucius who accidentally turns himself into a donkey. Professor Benson loves traveling to the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, and he's looking forward to participating in the extended study course in Rome and Pompeii in spring 2018.