Roman Historians

Course Expectations and Objectives

We will read the excerpts from a variety of Roman Historians, covering in broad outlines the history of Rome from its foundation in 753 B.C. through the early Middle Ages. As always, we will focus closely on the grammar, vocabulary, and style of the assigned texts, with regular comments on the historical and social background. The student is expected to have mastered a basic second year vocabulary and to be prepared to absorb a considerable quantity of new vocabulary. Complete familiarity with basic forms (declension patterns, pronouns, verb tenses, infinitives, and participles) is required.

The difficulty and style of our texts will vary considerably, from the simple prose of the Periochae to the stylized art of Sallust, Tacitus, Ammianus, and Falcandus. As with all authors, the style and vocabulary become easier as the work progresses. We will move slowly at first, more quickly as the semester progresses.

Students are expected to have prepared the assigned text well enough to read it with minimal difficulty and discuss grammatical constructions. Our goals are to read with reasonable ease the passages assigned and to articulate a basic understanding of the broad outline of Roman history. The work required is considerable, the rewards commensurate.

Our Texts

The texts are available on-line in pdf format, with grammatical and historical commentary.

Week One:

• Livy, Praefatio - Commentary - 44 lines
• Periochae I-IV (The Kings and Early Wars in Italy) - Commentary - 98 lines

Week Two:

• Livy, Book 9.10-11 (Postumius and the Caudine Forks) - Commentary - 60 lines
• de Viris Illustribus (Pyrrhus) - Commentary - 17 lines

Week Three:

• Eutropius, Book II (excerpts) (The First Punic War) - Commentary - 77 lines
• Eutropius, Book III (excerpts) (The Second Punic War) - Commentary - 111 lines

Week Four:

• Nepos, Vita Catonis - Commentary - 40 lines
• de Viris Illustribus (Scipio Africanus) - Commentary - 22 lines
• de Viris Illustribus (T. Quinctius Flamininus) - Commentary - 6 lines
• de Viris Illustribus (Antiochus the Great) - Commentary - 12 lines
• de Viris Illustribus (Ti. Gracchus) - Commentary - 12 lines
• Epistula Corneliae - Commentary - 25 lines

Week Five:

• Eutropius, Book V (excerpts) (The Social War, The First Civil War, The First Mithridatic War) - Commentary - 74 lines
• Sallust, Epistula Mithridatis - Commentary - 45 lines

Week Six:

• Caesar, The Civil War (Death of Pompey) - Commentary - 46 lines
• Cicero, Letter to Trebonius - Commentary - 24 lines
• Eutropius, The Civil Wars and the Rise of Augustus - Commentary - 57 lines

Week Seven:

• Augustus, Res Gestae - Commentary - 88 lines

Week Eight:

• Tacitus, Preface (Annales) - Commentary - 51 lines
• Tacitus, Speech of Calgacus (Agricola) - Commentary - 61 lines

Week Nine:

• Eutropius Book IX (The Third Century) - Commentary - 114 lines

Week 10:

• Ammianus Marcellinus, Death of the Emperor Valens - Commentary - 18 lines

Week 11:

• Gregory of Tours - Commentary - 54 lines

Do not hesitate to make use of a modern English edition in order to help unravel the complexities of the Latin grammar.

Grammar Resources

A systematic grammar of Latin is recommended. Bennett's New Latin Grammar or, better, Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar. Both are available for on-line purchase. They are also available in on-line editions, but are not formatted for ease of use. Handouts on basic grammar and vocabulary are available at the Latin Handout Page.

The Links

rerum ratio ordinem temporum desiderat, regionum descriptionem - Cicero


  • Expansion of the Roman Republic 509-44 BC
  • Carthaginian Empire 814-146 BC
  • Roman Expansion 500-218 BC
  • Mediterranean in 218 BC
  • Aegean World c. 200 BC
  • Roman Territory 100 BC
  • The East c. 89 BC
  • The Augustan Expansion
  • Campaigns of Agricola AD 79-84
  • The Roman Empire c. AD 116
  • The Barbarian Invasions
  •  Chronology:

  • A Short Chronology of Roman History (753 B.C.-476 A.D.)
  • A Detailed Chronology of Roman History
  • The Instructor

    William L. Carey, Esq.
    Blankingship & Keith, P.C.
    4020 University Drive, Suite 300
    Fairfax, Virginia 22030
    703-620-6377 (home)