The Fall of the Roman Republic


This upper-level lecture class assumes a basic knowledge of Roman history but has no prerequisites.  It will cover the most tumultuous period in Roman history, that which stretches from 133 BC to the establishment of Octavian (Augustus) as the first emperor in 27 BC.  This was the age of the great generals (Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Caesar); of great oratory (Cicero), of amazing changes in the city of Rome itself, in Italy, and in the ever-growing provinces; an age of shifting political alliances, howling crowds, and the eventual transformation of a Republic into a monarch.  How did this come about?  Could the Republic maintain an empire, or was the dominance of one man unavoidable?  We will read mostly primary sources in translation, averaging about 146 pages per week; there will be ten in-class discussions, a mid-term, a final, one 5-6 page pager, and one 7-10 page paper.  Reading will be drawn from:

  • H.H. Scullard, From the Gracchi to Nero (fifth edition, 1982)
  • Plutarch, Makers of Rome and The Fall of the Roman Republic (Pengiun)
  • Sallust, Jugurthine War and Conspiracy of Catiline (Pengiun, transl. Woodman, 2007)
  • Julius Caesar, Civil Wars and Gallic War (Oxford)
  • M. Tullius Cicero, On Government and Selected Political Speeches (Pengiun) 
  • and a course packet


Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts