Rome Second Essay Guidelines



Please write an essay of 5 pages which addresses one or two of the topics given below. The essay is due on the last regularly scheduled day of classes this Spring. The purpose of this essay is to show that you can take a wide range of information from class lectures and various readings and synthesize them into a coherent account of the development of Roman civilization from the 1st to 4th centuries after Christ. I will be glad to discuss your papers with you and offer suggestions. Please make use of all the different sources, the textbook, primary sources and my lectures.  Please make an effort to include primary sources directly whenever possible.

You do not need a separate bibliography unless you are using sources beyond the required texts. You may use whatever citation system you prefer (footnotes, end notes or parenthetical notes) as long as you are consistent. Illustrations are not required but page numbering is required. I expect 5 pages of  text.  If you find that your paper is 8 pages long that’s fine, but I won’t have much sympathy for a 3 and ½ page paper which includes 2 pages of illustrations and more bibliography as part of the page count! Graduate students should prepare a longer, more detailed paper (10-12 pages). Remember: you must submit both a hard copy to me and a electronic version to the website Please see the course syllabus for instructions.


Your paper should aim to show the main historical developments during the last century of the Republic and the transition to Imperial rule under Augustus.  Stress should be placed on the major historical figures and events which destroyed the Republic. Historical development– how things changed over time– is also very important.

1) The Good (& Bad) Emperors

Describe the trends in the new system of Imperial one-man rule in the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD.  Using example of specific Emperors and their policies, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the Principate over the Republic?  What guaranteed the Emperor’s position of power?  Once it became obvious to all that Rome was essentially a monarchy, what made Roman society tolerant of the new political reality?

2) The Pax Romana and Rome’s Imperial System

Discuss the Roman imperial system in the First & Second centuries AD. How did the system work? Why is it called the Pax Romana? How did Rome manage its far flung provinces.  Were there benefits as well as burdens in being a subject of Rome? What incentives and punishments did Rome offer to provincials to keep them loyal and to discourage disloyalty?  What was the role of the Imperial cult in all this?

3) Early Christianity & Rome

Discuss the religious background to the rise of Christianity in the first three centuries AD.  What religious trends were developing in the Roman world as a whole at this time?  What was the religious and political situation in 1st Century Judea.  How did the Empire’s dealings with Judea, Samaria and the wider Jewish diaspora throughout the Empire affect the development of Christianity?  How did the physical and social infrastructure of the Empire facilitate the spread of the new faith by St. Paul and other early evangelists? Why were Roman citizens and the Roman government suspicious and hostile towards Christians? Was the persecution a consistent and continuous phenomenon? Finally, placing yourself in the sandals of an ancient non-Christian Roman, what attitudes  towards,  misconceptions of as well as facts about Christianity among the Roman populace and government contributed to the persecution. Did the actions  and beliefs of the Christians, rightly or wrongly, contribute to their dilemma?