History of Ancient Rome

Course No. 340
Professor Garrett G. Fagan, Ph.D.
The Pennsylvania State University
Share This Course
4.3 out of 5
150 Reviews
77% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 340
Streaming Included Free

Course Overview

There are many reasons to study ancient Rome. Rome's span was vast. In the regional, restless, and shifting history of continental Europe, the Roman Empire stands as a towering monument to scale and stability. At its height, the Roman Empire, unified in politics and law, stretched from the sands of Syria to the moors of Scotland, and it stood for almost 700 years.

Rome's influence is indelible. Europe and the world owe a huge cultural debt to Rome in so many fields of human endeavor, such as art, architecture, engineering, language, literature, law, and religion. In this course you see how a small village of shepherds and farmers rose to tower over the civilized world of its day and left an indelible mark on history.

Rome's story is riveting. Professor Garrett G. Fagan draws on a wealth of primary and secondary sources, including recent historical and archaeological scholarship, to introduce the fascinating tale of Rome's rise and decline. You learn about all the famous events and personalities:

  • Horatius at the bridge
  • Hannibal crossing the Alps during Rome's life-or-death war with Carthage
  • Caesar assassinated before a statue of his archrival Pompey
  • Doomed lovers Antony and Cleopatra
  • Mad and venal emperors Nero and Caligula
  • The conversion of Constantine, and more.

From pre-Roman Italy through the long centuries of Republican and then Imperial rule, Professor Fagan interweaves narrative and analysis. Chronologically, the focus is on the years from 200 B.C.E. to 200 A.D., when Roman power was at its height.

The narrative of the rise and fall of Rome is itself compelling, and Professor Fagan's richly detailed and often humorous discussions of Roman life are uniquely memorable. You study women and the family, slaves, cities, religious customs, the ubiquitous and beloved institution of public bathing, the deep cultural impact of Hellenism, and such famous Roman amusements as chariot racing and gladiatorial games.

"Images and themes derived from or rooted in ancient Rome continue to exert an influence on the modern mind," says Professor Fagan. "Unlike many ancient states, Rome changed hugely in many spheres over the course of its 1,500-year history, and thus the history of Rome is an engaging, complex, and challenging subject."

From Village to Monarchy to Republic

The first 10 lectures of this course map the development of a group of preliterate hamlets into the Roman Republic. In them, you learn about:

  • The nature of the historical evidence for antiquity
  • The geopolitical and cultural shape of pre-Roman Italy
  • The foundation legends of Rome itself
  • The cycle of stories that surrounds the kings of Rome
  • The shape of early Roman society
  • The fall of the monarchy at Rome and the foundation, in its wake, of the Republic (traditionally dated to 509 B.C.E.).

These lectures examine two major forces that shaped the early Republic: the Struggle of the Orders and Roman military expansion in Italy. The lectures also explain how the Romans ruled their conquered territories in Italy, setting the foundations for the later acquisition and maintenance of the Empire.

Early Expansion and Rapid Collision

Moving outside of Italy, you next explore the expansion of Roman power in the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C.E.

In two lectures Professor Fagan charts the course of the Romans' first two titanic struggles with their archrival in the west, Carthage.

In these wars, the Romans developed a large-scale navy, sent armies overseas, acquired foreign territories, and displayed what was to become one of their chief characteristics: a dogged determination to prevail, even in the face of seemingly impossible odds. This was particularly clear in the Second Punic War, when the gifted Carthaginian general Hannibal roamed freely in Italy, threatening the city of Rome itself.

Greek Influence and Roman Government

In Lectures 16–19, Professor Fagan pauses the narrative to examine the influence of Greek culture on Rome and the nature of the Roman Republican system of government.

This latter system—complex and replete with archaisms and redundancies—has influenced the form of several modern policies, including that of the United States.

Finally, Professor Fagan examines the pressures of empire on Roman society, charting considerable social, economic, and political changes brought about by Rome's overseas expansion. On the rocks of these pressures, the Republic was destined to founder.

The Roman Revolution

Lectures 20–27 follow the course of what modern scholars have termed the "Roman Revolution."

In the century between 133 and 31 B.C.E., the Roman Republic tore itself apart. It is a period of dramatic political and military developments, of ambitious generals challenging the authority of the state, of civil wars and vicious violence, and of some of the first great personalities of European history: Marius, Sulla, Pompey, and Julius Caesar.

The story is intriguing, complicated, and at times horrendous, and it illustrates perfectly the historical principle of contingency. With a few exceptions, each protagonist in the drama of the Revolution acted within the bounds of necessity or precedent, and thereby set new and dangerous precedents for later protagonists to follow.

In this way, the Roman Revolution was not a staged or planned event, but a cumulative snowball of crises that combined to shatter the system of Republican government.

After pausing to examine the social and cultural life of the Late Republic, you return to the last phases of the Revolution and the rise to power of the man who was to become Rome's first emperor, Augustus.

The Roman Empire

Lectures 31–33 examine the long reign of Augustus (31 B.C.E.–14 A.D.) and his new political order, the Principate. The Principate stood for centuries and brought stability and good government in a way that the old Republic could not.

Augustus's solution to the Republic's problems was clever and subtle. It also had a flaw at its core—the issue of succession—and what happened when an emperor died was to prove the single most destabilizing factor in the Principate's existence.

The next three lectures cover the early Imperial period, from the death of Augustus to the instability of the 3rd century. This is the era of such familiar Roman historical figures as Caligula, Claudius, Nero, and Hadrian.

Finally, Professor Fagan shows how the problem of the succession combined with ominous developments among Rome's external enemies in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. to generate a period of great crisis, indeed near-collapse, in the mid-3rd century A.D.

Life in Classical Rome

Leaving the Empire under pressure, Professor Fagan considers life in classical Roman civilization in nine lectures. He explores the broad shape of Roman society, slavery, the Roman family, the role of women in Roman society, urbanism, public leisure and mass entertainment, paganism, and the rise of Christianity.

The End and a New Beginning

To conclude the course, the final three lectures return to the Empire's last centuries. The Empire is restored to order and stability at the end of the 3rd century, but under an increasingly oppressive government.

The institutionalization of Christianity to legitimize Imperial power and a more openly autocratic regime created, in many ways, a Roman Empire closer to medieval Europe than to the Empire of Augustus. As such, the later Empire is treated only in general terms here, since it warrants closer study by itself.

The course ends with one of the great questions in history: Why did the Roman Empire fall? We see how, in the eyes of most modern scholars, the Empire did not fall at all but just changed into something very different, a less urbanized, more rural, early medieval world.

Hide Full Description
48 lectures
 |  Average 29 minutes each
  • 1
    Introduction
    What makes ancient Rome so important and fascinating? This lecture describes the thematic, chronological, and geographical parameters of our foray into this engaging, complex, and challenging topic. How does the history of ancient times and peoples differ from "typical" historical study? x
  • 2
    The Sources
    How ought we to assess the sorts of evidence available from the ancient world? What are the strengths—and limitations—of such evidence? x
  • 3
    Pre-Roman Italy and the Etruscans
    In pre-Roman times, the Italian peninsula was inhabited mainly by tribal peoples. The two major exceptions were the Greek colonizers in southern Italy and Sicily, and the Etruscans just north of Rome. Etruscan civilization is thought to be mysterious, but really it's not. Find out why. x
  • 4
    The Foundation of Rome
    Two stories of Rome's founding, of Romulus and Remus, and of Aeneas, are discussed. What does the archaeological evidence say? x
  • 5
    The Kings of Rome
    According to tradition, Rome's early rulers from Romulus to Tarquinius Superbus were kings. How were the slender sources concerning the deeds of these kings later used to explain Rome's early formation? Did the Etruscans "dominate" Rome under the last three kings? x
  • 6
    Regal Society
    What was early Roman society like? Moreover, what were the contours of government and politics on the eve of the Republic's foundation? x
  • 7
    The Beginnings of the Republic
    With the expulsion of the kings in 509 B.C., Rome became a republic. What do modern scholars think about the traditional tale of the Republic's founding? x
  • 8
    The Struggle of the Orders
    This sociopolitical conflict dominated Rome's domestic political life from 494 to 287 B.C. What was at stake in this contest? How did its resolution reshape the Roman Republic? x
  • 9
    Roman Expansion in Italy
    The Roman conquest of Italy was a long and arduous business. We chart the outline of this expansion in three phases that were not without reverses for the Romans. We examine the ramifications of expansion for Roman politics and society. x
  • 10
    The Roman Confederation in Italy
    Did the Romans administer their conquests in Italy? The complex, hierarchical system that they devised goes a long way toward explaining the longevity of the Roman Empire. x
  • 11
    The International Scene on the Eve of Roman Expansion
    What was the geopolitical situation as Rome began building its overseas empire in 264 B.C.? How did the land-based Romans emerge from Italy to defeat formidable maritime rivals? x
  • 12
    Carthage and the First Punic War
    Conflict with sea-going Carthage marked the beginning of Rome's rise to world power. We begin our survey of the first phase of that rise by describing the Carthaginian state. We discuss the course of the First Punic War and the ramifications of Rome's victory for both protagonists. x
  • 13
    The Second Punic (or Hannibalic) War
    We examine the causes, course, and consequences of one of European history's most famous conflicts: the Second Punic, or Hannibalic, War of 218 to 202 B.C. What made this a life-and-death struggle for both belligerents? x
  • 14
    Rome in the Eastern Mediterranean
    Despite having to contend against culturally advanced and formidable rivals with superior resources, Rome became the most powerful state in the entire Mediterranean basin in just the half-century following the Second Punic War. x
  • 15
    Explaining the Rise of the Roman Empire
    The works of Polybius are the oldest historical writings about ancient Rome. Follow in his footsteps by analyzing how the Romans built the biggest and best fighting machine in the ancient world, and by pondering why the Roman march of conquest took place at all. x
  • 16
    “The Captured Conqueror”—Rome and Hellenism
    "Captured Greece," said Horace, "has captured her savage conqueror." How did the rapid Hellenization of the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. affect the Romans? What were its long-term effects on both Roman and European history? x
  • 17
    Governing the Roman Republic, Part I—Senate and Magistrates
    The Roman Republic has been much studied and imitated. What were the key elements and practices of this famous system of government? How did it reflect the dual nature of the Romans, a people at once highly traditional and yet open to innovation? x
  • 18
    Governing the Roman Republic, Part II—Popular Assemblies and Provincial Administration
    Although nominally democratic, the Roman Republic was in fact an oligarchy controlled by a handful of influential families. What accounts for this? How were the popular assemblies constituted and operated? How did the Republic handle the administration of Rome's vast empire? x
  • 19
    The Pressures of Empire
    What pressures did the rapid expansion and great extent of the Empire place on the Republic? How, for instance, did imperial issues contribute to the looming Roman Revolution? x
  • 20
    The Gracchi Brothers
    The Roman Revolution was unplanned but had a definite starting point: the tribunates of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus. The revolution's end left Rome a monarchy once again, but one shrouded in republican vestments. The story of these dramatic and often horrifying events occupies this and the next 12 lectures. x
  • 21
    Marius and Sulla
    Not long after the demise of the Gracchi, C. Marius, an unknown "new man" in the Senate, would rise to power. The animosity between Marius and his rival Sulla would quicken the pace of the revolution. x
  • 22
    "The Royal Rule of Sulla"
    Sulla acquired power by violence and then revived the long-dormant office of dictator. What were the contents and motives of Sulla's dictatorial legislation? What does his career mean in the broader context of the revolution? Why was he doomed to fail? x
  • 23
    Sulla's Reforms Undone
    The years following Sulla's death and the drama of the Republic's collapse saw the emergence of new players: Pompey and Crassus. Using disturbances at home and abroad to advance themselves, these men terminated the remaining threads of the Sullan "Restoration." x
  • 24
    Pompey and Crassus
    As Pompey became a popular hero, a jealous and fearful Crassus began to aid the rise of a little-known noble youth named Julius Caesar. Catiline's desperate coup attempt (63 B.C.) shows how the Republican order was unraveling. x
  • 25
    The First Triumvirate
    This coalition of Pompey, Crassus, and Caesar effectively ended the Republic. Now the three most powerful and ruthless protagonists were playing on the same side, with the Senate and tradition on the other. x
  • 26
    Pompey and Caesar
    After the death of Crassus in 53 B.C., his two imposing colleagues began their fateful rivalry. It would intensify over the next 10 years until full-scale civil war broke out in 49 B.C. x
  • 27
    "The Domination of Caesar"
    How did Caesar gain sole control of the Roman world? How did he reveal the full extent of his genius despite the briefness of his ascendancy? What moved Brutus, Cassius, and their small band of senators to assassinate him? x
  • 28
    Social and Cultural Life in the Late Republic
    Review the age of the poet Catullus, the historian Sallust, and the orator Cicero, the greatest craftsman of the Latin language who ever lived. Look also at the plight of the city's poor during an age of political upheaval. x
  • 29
    Antony and Octavian
    Caesar's murder plunged the Roman world into renewed uncertainty. What were the contours of the struggle between Mark Antony, Caesar's right-hand man, and Octavian, Caesar's 18-year-old grandnephew, adopted son, and designated heir? x
  • 30
    The Second Triumvirate
    Along with Lepidus, Antony and Octavian formed the Second Triumvirate about 20 months after Caesar's assassination. The Triumvirate would dominate Roman politics for the next 10 years, but like its predecessor, it was fraught with tensions. x
  • 31
    Octavian Emerges Supreme
    How did Octavian overcome his initial unpopularity in the west and gain an edge on his rival Antony? How did the power struggle between the two play out, and what did the victorious Octavian do once he became undisputed ruler of the entire Roman world? x
  • 32
    The New Order of Augustus
    Octavian, later known as Caesar Augustus, ruled from 31 B.C. to his death in A.D. 14. How did he manage, during this half-century, to forge a basis for governance that gave Rome's crumbling authority a new lease on life? What did he learn from Caesar's mistakes, and what serious problems did his new "Principate" system leave unsolved? x
  • 33
    The Imperial Succession
    Technically, the Principate was not hereditary. How, then, could Augustus forestall the power struggle that his death might occasion? x
  • 34
    The Julio-Claudian Dynasty
    Thanks to the masterful histories of Tacitus and the racy biographies of Suetonius, the Julio-Claudian (A.D. 14–68) is the best documented of all the Roman imperial dynasties. It has given us these intriguing figures: brooding Tiberius, the mad Caligula, the dithering but wily Claudius, and the megalomaniacal Nero. x
  • 35
    The Emperor in the Roman World
    As the Augustan vision continued to cloud over, the Principate became increasingly autocratic. The uncertainties of succession were dealt with effectively only by chance. Then we ask: How much effect did even the most energetic emperors have on the actual running of the empire? x
  • 36
    The Third-Century Crisis
    Despite the accomplishments of the Antonine Dynasty, the succession problem sparked a major civil war in the A.D. 190s. Then the collapse of the Severan Dynasty in A.D. 235 brought yet another internecine broil, this one lasting 50 years. What were the origins and nature of these crises? What did the combination of external enemies and the internal succession problem mean for the Empire? x
  • 37
    The Shape of Roman Society
    What are the major societal and cultural themes of the "central period" of Roman history (roughly 200 B.C. to A.D. 200)? Why were Romans so preoccupied with status? How did the law reinforce these arrangements? x
  • 38
    Roman Slavery
    Viewing the broad sweep of human history, we cannot ignore the disturbing fact that for most societies most of the time, slavery has been the norm rather than the exception. Roman slavery, however, was rather unusual. What made it so? Was it escapable? Where did the Romans get their slaves? What was a slave's life like? What became of ex-slaves? x
  • 39
    The Family
    The basic unit of Roman society was the family. What did the Romans understand by "family"? How did their understanding differ from the one that we commonly hold today? x
  • 40
    Women in Roman Society
    Despite being officially barred from public life, many Roman women gained power, prestige, and influence, albeit largely through their men. The situation among the lower orders, more difficult to discern, closes out the lecture. x
  • 41
    An Empire of Cities
    Despite the overwhelmingly agricultural nature of most people's lives in the Empire, urbanization is what characterized Roman civilization. In this lecture we look at the Empire's cities: their organization, administration, and physical form. x
  • 42
    Public Entertainment, Part I—The Roman Baths and Chariot Racing
    Among ancient peoples the Romans were the first to develop a genuine culture of public leisure and mass entertainment. The provision of "conveniences" (commoda) for the enjoyment of the masses was seen as a cardinal benefit of the imperial and local administrations. Two such commoda were the public baths and the chariot races. What were these like? x
  • 43
    Public Entertainment, Part II—Gladiatorial Games
    Fighting to the death before huge and bloodthirsty crowds, the Roman gladiator still fascinates us today. Who were the gladiators? How were they selected and trained? How should we understand gladiatorial violence in light of Roman urbanity and sophistication? x
  • 44
    Roman Paganism
    Roman paganism focused heavily on ritual. The state gods were powerful, aloof, and capricious rulers of nature and human life. The chief concerns of the worshipper were to placate and supplicate these deities, and to divine their dispositions. x
  • 45
    The Rise of Christianity
    Within three centuries of its founding, Christianity had survived occasional persecution and prevailed as the Empire's official religion. Within five centuries it had stamped out the age-old pagan rites altogether, and today it remains the single, most direct link to the Roman past. x
  • 46
    The Restoration of Order
    Between 270 and 305, a remarkable series of emperors reversed the Empire's decay. How did Diocletian, the greatest of these, redefine the emperorship and push through other reforms? x
  • 47
    Constantine and the Late Empire
    The Emperor Constantine oversaw the founding of Constantinople and began the institutionalization of Christianity as the Empire's official religion. Events under later and less-visionary emperors are also examined. x
  • 48
    Thoughts on the "Fall" of the Roman Empire
    Why was the world so shocked when the Visigoths sacked Rome in 410? How did barbarians come to settle portions of the Western Empire during the next century? Why is the Empire's "fall" traditionally dated to 476? Is "fall" even the right word? x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Download 48 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 48 lectures on 8 DVDs
  • 222-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 222-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos & illustrations
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

Enjoy This Course On-the-Go with Our Mobile Apps!*

  • App store App store iPhone + iPad
  • Google Play Google Play Android Devices
  • Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Tablet + Firephone
*Courses can be streamed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract.

Your professor

Garrett G. Fagan

About Your Professor

Garrett G. Fagan, Ph.D.
The Pennsylvania State University
Garrett G. Fagan (1963–2017) was a Professor of Ancient History at Pennsylvania State University. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, and was educated at Trinity College. He earned his PhD from McMaster University and held teaching positions at McMaster University, York University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also gave many public lectures to audiences of all ages. Professor Fagan had an extensive...
Learn More About This Professor
Also By This Professor

Reviews

History of Ancient Rome is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 150.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb, once you realize it's part I of II My initial reaction to this was one of, "Gee, this is fantastic as far as it goes, but what about the rest of Roman history?" Then I discovered and listened to Dr. Fagan's "Emperors of Rome" which is at least a companion volume, and to my way of thinking, is Part II. Once that was realized, I was fantastically happy with the combined course, and all of my ratings above are for the 84 lecture combination of the two. When it comes right down to it, I'm glad that TC divided the era, and spent the amount of time they did on each, without combining into one huge expenditure. Dr. Fagan's presentation is good, and his wry sense of humor is always welcome. He is careful to highlight areas of scholarly debate, presenting different perspectives, as well as giving his own opinions and rationale for those opinions. All told, I heartily recommend this course as a meaty introduction to the era....accessable to people new to the topic, but more in depth than most introductions. I have listened to both this course and its companion volume more than once, and can easily see myself returning to them regularly. Bravo!
Date published: 2011-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Course I bought the CD version of this course, and loved it. Highly recommended. I've been looking for years for a serious but accessible survey of the sweep of Roman history, and after many disappointments, I felt like I hit the bulls-eye with this course. Fagan is very engaging the level of detail is perfect, and I devoured the 48 lectures in a little over a couple of weeks.
Date published: 2011-06-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Generally sound despite a few flaws From the comments I've read from other reviewers it seems that this course might be better on cd (which I used) than on dvd. I don't think the mannerisms described by some people come through on the cds, where Prof Fagan seemed to be reasonably relaxed and enthusiastic. The major flaw here was pointed out by a previous reviewer: the course should really have been called "History of the Roman Republic," because Fagan pretty much stops after the death of Julius Caesar, giving only a brief summary of what followed (and quite a bit followed!). He is very good on the republic, particularly the early days. His social history is reasonable (though, like many professors, he spends more time than is warranted on his own specialty, sports, Roman baths, etc.). I also found his rather dry sense of humor engaging, so all told, I would certainly recommend this solid course.
Date published: 2011-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant and Charming I love these lectures. I have listened to them over and over. Professor Fagan's point of view is fair and accurate and when there is a controversy he says so and states his position. All my adult life I have been frustrated that I didn't know enough about the Roman Republic and Empire, I would read Roman history and the books would go in one ear and out the other. Now I know the basic story and details enough to feel confident and comfortable. On this foundation I am delightedly building more specialized knowledge. Garrett Fagan is my hero, brilliant and thorough and charming. Some of my latin is even coming back!
Date published: 2011-05-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Should be "The Rise & Fall Of The Roman Republic" Professor Kagan delves into great detail when discussing the beginnings of Rome and the evolution of the Republic. That part was interesting. He transitions the talk to Julius Caesar's ascension to authority in Rome and his successor Augustus. So far, great. And then, he drops the ball. He mentions the next three emperors, Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero without really saying anything about them. Arguably 69 AD was the most interesting year of all, with no less than four emperors taking the throne in that one year. What does Kagan do? "Well, it would be tedious to go through all the emperors that follow." So he totally changes gears and begins lecturing on themes...the role of women... the life of a slave...gladitorial games...etc. I bought this course simply because I wanted to know more about the emperors, who they were and what they did, so I skipped his themed lectures. Kagan picks it up again with Diocletian's splitting the control of the Empire, and discusses Constantine. That's it...as if the Roman Empire ended with Constantine. No, I wanted to know more about the political details of all of the emperors, before and after Constantine. That information is not here. I've remarked on Kagan's liabilities as a speaker in another review on Great Battles Of The Ancient World, so I won't repeat them here. Let's just say that he certainly isn't the best I have heard. I would recommend this course to those interested in the formation of Rome and its early history until the time of Caesar. If you want more information past that time, this is not the course for you.
Date published: 2011-04-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good content, shaky delivery This series focuses on the political and military history of ancient Rome, with side excursions into popular entertainments such as public bathing and gladiatorial contests. Fagan is particularly good at explaining the development of republican institutions and the complicated series of events leading to the Roman Revolution and the transition from republic to empire. Fagan is an engaging lecturer, although his nervous stammer detracts from his presentation. His syntax is occasionally garbled, he's given to malapropisms, and some of his attempts at humor are rather lame. Overall, I'd give this course a qualified thumbs up.
Date published: 2011-04-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Simply Awful What a big disappointment. This professor is the worst speaker I have ever seen or heard from TTC. He constantly wrings his hands, moves back and forth, reads his notes constantly and stutters throughout all of the 9 lectures that I could make it through. I finally had to give up and return the DVD's. Maybe TTC can reissue this course with another professor?
Date published: 2011-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course Professor Fagan made this course fascinating. I would highly recommend it.
Date published: 2011-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course I found Professor Fagan to have a great presentation style. The course was thorough and very informative. Reminded me of courses I took as an undergraduate. He definitely knows the material very well. A great course for those who want to learn Roman history.
Date published: 2010-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from superb equal to the very best Teaching Company courses. Command of subject, excellent presentation, charming lecturer.
Date published: 2010-11-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good course, poor instructor This course is a great example of the one and only thing I don't like about TTC's products- the course content is very good and you can learn a lot, but the instructor has irritating mannerisms that distract your attention from what he is saying. He seems nervous, wrings his hands often, stutters badly and constantly says 'eh' and 'uh.' There must be dozens of instructors of Roman history in this country, and I can't believe that he is one of the best. TTC has other courses on ancient Rome, so I recommend that you check those out before buying this one.
Date published: 2010-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Masterful Command of a MASSIVE Topic I purchased "History of Rome" (along with another of Professor Fagan's courses, "Emperors of Rome") after a friend gave me his course "Great Battles of the Ancient World" as a gift. I was so impressed by the course, that immediately upon completing it, I ordered all remaining courses available from this professor. Contrary to what some reviewers seem to think, I found both the course, and the professor, to be highly interesting and informative. Professor Fagan moves through the VAST amount of information, and sprawling spans of both time and geography associated with the history of Rome, at the perfect pace and in an organized manner. He manages to be very inclusive, while still smartly selective in his recounting of such an expansive topic. I found him to be energetic, knowledgeable, and entertaining, and definitely took a great deal away from the course as well. I can hardly believe the reviewers below could be referring to the same course that I just watched. Professor Fagan speaks intelligently, articulately, and clearly on a topic he obviously knows a great deal about. I would recommend this course to anyone interested in the subject (particularly in conjunction with his courses on Emperors and Great Battles). Together, the three paint a vivid, colorful, useful and comprehensive picture of the world the ancient Romans and their contemporaries occupied.
Date published: 2010-11-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from some criticisms It must be said that I learned a great deal from this course. However, although I don't think Prof. Hagan was as bad as the two previous reviewers wrote, I was quite shocked at his mangling of the English language, with many misused words and much sloppy syntax. I expect a lot better than that from the Teaching Company (and for that matter, from Penn State).
Date published: 2010-10-31
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I am desperately trying to finish this course before going onto a trip to Italy, but am thinking of giving up. I own many Great Courses and have so far enjoyed everyone of them. But I have to agree with a previous reviewer and say that this course is absolutely not of the Great Courses quality. Maybe the teacher knows the subject but he is unable to convey the information in a clear, lively or even tolerable manner. He stammers, comes across as being extremely nervous, forgets his sentences half way through, lists items without much context, cites a couple of facts and says he demonstrated his argument and you are left wondering what he was even trying to talk about. I am very sorry I have to write this review. I have enjoyed immensely all other Great Courses and they cover a wide range of interest.
Date published: 2010-10-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Rise & Fall of the Ancient History of Rome Warning, DO NOT buy this course. I would give it ZERO stars if it were possible. I own over 30 Teaching Company courses. This is by far the worst and atypical of the quality I’ve come to expect from them. Professor Fagan’s presentation is horrifically bad on DVD. Fagan comes off really nervous and totally uncomfortable in his own skin. He is not articulate; his phrases are poorly constructed and lack clarity. He constantly stammers and when he walks he weaves back and forth with the camera following his every move to and fro which I found totally distracting and nauseating. Worse still, he spends 25 minutes telling you what he is going to say and 5 minutes saying what he is supposed to. I found myself getting so dizzy and fatigued by the 9th session that I skipped ahead to the 24th session to see if there was any improvement. It seemed to get even worse. I think I spent more time watching this course than Fagan spent preparing for it. This course is going back for a REFUND. It's horrible, with no redeeming value whatsoever.
Date published: 2010-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply great I have listened to many TTC courses and this is one of my favourites so far (along with "Herodotus: The Father of History" by Elizabeth Vandiver and "Enlightenment Invention of the Modern Self" by Leo Damrosch). Far from merely skimming the surface of his topic, Mr Fagan gives a thorough and very informative insight of Ancient Rome in a very pleasant, interesting manner. His other course on the "Great Battles of the Ancient World" is also very interesting. A previous reviewer said that Mr Fagan seemed to have a preference for the Roman Republic over the Roman Empire. I did not notice such a thing but this could just be because I have this same preference myself. I did not either get the impression yet another reviewer had that Mr Fagan had not prepared his lectures nor that he couldn't wait for them to be over. Mr Fagan is articulate, doesn't speak too fast and his voice comes out clearly. All this is important for non-native speakers of English such as myself, especially when using the audio version of the course. I have listened to this course twice already and will probably listen to it again in the future. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.
Date published: 2010-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sound Survey This is an sound survey of Rome from its founding through its "fall" in 476 CE. Dr. Fagan obviously prefers the Republic to the Empire. He unfolds the intricacies of the Republic in careful chronological order, noting the implications of each major development. By contrast, he flies through the Empire, covering it topically rather than chronologically. In the end, he concludes that the Empire didn't really fall, it merely "transformed." I got the impression he didn't really miss it. Overall, I found it a valuable course but I wish he had treated the subject more evenly.
Date published: 2010-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favorites This is, hands down, one of the most enjoyable Teaching Company courses I have listened to, and one from which I have retained the most information. I listened to this after listening to Professor Fagan's Emperors of Rome course, which is also excellent, because after listening to that one I wanted more. Professor Fagan is one of my two favorite Teaching Company professors, along with Robert Bucholz, for several reasons: he is obviously an expert, and he presents a well-organized course with a great balance of types of information: general history, stories of individuals, sociological information, facts on daily life, and thoughts on historical methodology and and the reliability of sources. There are times when he can get a bit dry, but there are also these great moments where he gets a little informal and excited, and for most of the course his genuine enthusiasm about his field shines through. I suppose it helps that I find this stuff genuinely fascinating myself--if you're completely uninterested in the intricacies of Roman bathing, for example, you might find that section annoying, but I loved it, enough to hunt down Fagan's book on the subject. I would say that this is superior to most courses in that it is extremely compelling, with few slow moments where I found myself distracted, and in the amount of information that I retained--I usually remember quite a bit, but with this one I feel like I remember almost everything. Highly recommended, as are Fagan's other courses, and I hope to see many more courses from him in the future.
Date published: 2010-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! Dr. Fagan has somehow gotten access to a time travel machine. Only a person with actual first-hand experience with ancient Rome could have presented such an in-depth and fascinating course. It goes far beyond names and dates. He opened a door for me that led to the purchase of several recommended reading tomes and beyond. The DVD version is a must. I will review the lectures often in the future.
Date published: 2010-04-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pluses and Minuses There are some aspects of this course that I found interesting but far too much of it is drawn out. While the history of Rome no doubt justifies the length of the course, and in some stretches Fagan provides plenty of depth, in other lectures he wanders and repeats his arguments to the point of tedium. I've decided to give a recommendation to this course because there is a lot of interest - a lot of which is in the last third of the lectures for those who may have given up before that point! - but I can imagine there will be many taking up the recommendation that think I've been overly generous.
Date published: 2010-04-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Couldn't Get Into It I have listened to dozens of Teaching Company courses and found them all very good to excellent. But I just couldn't connect with this one. No matter what the topic, my mind kept wandering. I've studied a lot of Roman history and expected to be fascinated, but the course just seemed dry and uninteresting. I made the mistake of purchasing a lot of the essential readings (this may have been an earlier version of the course, not sure), which I read because I had bought them, and I found they weren't essential at all and were pretty dry reading too. I suspect this course and professor are just a bit too academic for an interesting presentation.
Date published: 2010-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous series When I first started listening, I wondered how I would make it through 48 lectures. By the time I finished, I was sad it was only 48 lectures! Prof. Fagan has a wonderful style of narrative and side bars with a mastery of the history. I would love to see more Roman history lectures from him.
Date published: 2010-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course I found the course well organized and well presented. It provided a good overview of a large time period in Roman History. I highly recommend the course.
Date published: 2010-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive and clear I've read and studied this period at some length, and this was the clearest explanation of the history of the Roman republic that I've yet encountered. Dr. Fagan is very good.
Date published: 2010-02-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Recommended I would say this course in in my top 5 so far (I have listened to 14 courses as of 1-1-10). I would recommend this and Fagan's Emperors of Rome course. A good overview of Roman history--there is a big blank toward the end of this course, and you should be referenced to The Roman Emperor Course--so if you want the complete story in chronological order you'll have to get both and jump from one to the other and then jump back. But they are high quality courses. I only wish I had these classes when I was an undergrad!
Date published: 2010-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant lecturer I've listened to pretty much every TC history lecture, and I put this lecturer in my top five. He packs in a lot of information while remaining highly interesting; he suffers from no verbal tics or axe-grinding that I could tell; and he maintains a level of intellectual sophistication throughout.
Date published: 2009-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprhensive and clear Professor Fagan's treatment of this subject is comprehensive and clear, scholarly and balanced, vivid and personal. It is impossible to satisfy all when dealing with 1,000 years of extremely complex, rich history. Choices must be made, and I think Dr. Fagan's editorial decisions were spot on. For those wishing more about the Imperium, I suggest they review his other lecture set, "Emperors of Rome".
Date published: 2009-12-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good introduction This is one of the older offerings from the TTC: copyright 1999. I just can't give it the fifth star because I felt it didn't delve deep enough. Most people who have studied Roman history before will probably find little new. Dr Fagan is certainly a charming and very fine teacher. I'm puzzled however why so much time was spent on the Roman Revolution, and so little detail on the empire. Good coverage of Roman Society, which I believe is Dr. Fagan forte. Overall this is a good, but not excellent course. Certainly most valuable to those with relatively little previous exposure to this subject.
Date published: 2009-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Flawless I have to say I am totally enraptured by the subject matter and prof. Fagan. This is my first exposure to the TTC, and I listened to it straight through on my 40 minutes (one way) commute to work, it only took me about a week and a half or so. for breveties sake, i will stick to the main thing i like about fagan, and that is his insight. He has many many strengths, but insight makes studying history worthwhile. Endless facts, unmitigated chronology, and focusing on the well known major events gets boring and feels sterile. But Fagan includes the important things as well as details that bring the facts to life (such as the senator who had a hand slapped over his mouth and was dragged off the floor while addressing the senate). But i digress: insight. Fagan opens the course with a half hour lecture on why Ancient Rome is worth studying. Later in the series, he contrasts Casesars' last words with the last words given him by Shaekespear, and how his actual last words give us a much better understanding of the real man and the events of his life. In both instances, his insight helps you appreciate the subject matter on a deeper level, and also draw parallels with, and understand influences on, moderns events and culture. I will not go into detail about either example in hopes that any reader will find out by listening to the course. Not to sound superficial, but his Irish accent is enjoyable to listen to. Rest assured i could go on and on about this course and this professor, but hopefully you get the idea
Date published: 2009-11-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from My 1st Completed Course from the Teaching Company Back in August of this year, I received an unsolicited course catalogue from The Teaching Company which proved to be a godsend! I immediately ordered 4 courses from it, and have since ordered since then "The History of Ancient Rome" was the first TTC course I completed. (Oddly enough, the subject of Ancient Rome is something of very recent intrigue to me, for reasons I don't seem to recall.) Less than halfway through the 1st of the course's 4 DVDs, I knew it would be difficult for me to stop watching the course. I also became endeared with Prof. Garrett Fagan, thoroughly enjoying his enthusiasm, mannerisms, and even his occasional stumbling. I should regress by explaining that I've been disabled from work for over 18 months and am wheelchair-bound, so I'm always for activities I'm able to do, especially those that help keep my brain "fresh", so to speak. In this regard, TTC's courses are perfect, and "Rome", in particular, certainly met and exceeded my expectations. I found Prof. Fagan's delivery (and his obvious enthusiasm on the subject) so fixating, that it resulted in a storytelling-like quality throughout, such that I actually dreaded when I would be finished. While others found his presence "stilted," as one reviewer described it, I instead found him to be rather endearing and natural in its delivery, as I alluded to earlier. The subject matter, while voluminous, was well-managed, with appropriate balancing of details based on a subject's significance. The grand pace and overall "fun" of the first 42 lectures was slightly missing during the final 6 lectures, however, but this may have been an unavoidable result of the nature of the material being covered, rather than Prof. Fagan's delivery. Also, like KnowledgeSeeker indicated in his/her review, I also found the explanation for the fall of the Roman Republic to be more convincing than that of the Empire's fall. I would highly recommend this course to others with similar interests, and look forward to engaging in a recent TTC purchase I made, "The Emperors of Rome", also by Prof. Fagan.
Date published: 2009-10-28
  • y_2020, m_12, d_3, h_16
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.12
  • cp_4, bvpage2n
  • co_hasreviews, tv_9, tr_141
  • loc_en_US, sid_340, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.0
  • CLOUD, getContent, 137.14ms
  • REVIEWS, PRODUCT

Questions & Answers

Customers Who Bought This Course Also Bought