Jan 20, 2020  
2019-2020 Catalogue 
2019-2020 Catalogue

AMST 29901 - The Neronian Age

Course Credit: 1
THE NERONIAN AGE What makes an age? A zeitgeist? A moment in time? Is history a continuum or are there pivotal moments, figures, etc. that break one epoch from another? We will investigate these questions with reference to one of Rome’s most notorious figures: Emperor Nero. The name summons to mind notions of theatricality, incest, and insanity as well as images of Rome burning and Christians hanging on crosses. Few figures from history capture the decadence, amorality, and extravagance that we associate with the Roman Empire as well as Nero. To what degree did a single individual, Nero, define his age? In what ways is he responsible for defining the epoch in which he lived? To what degree does the creation of the Neronian Age depend upon subsequent readers, scholars, and historians? And was he really such a bad guy? This course provides a 360-degree approach to the Neronian Age in order to assess whether a definite age emerges out of the cultural productions and events of Nero’s rule. After a whirlwind review of Roman history up to Nero, we will analyze some of the major historical sources for his life and times. The first part of the course will be devoted to separating fact from fiction in the record of the historiographers and analyzing what the material and historiographical record can tell us about the facts of the Neronian Age. Then we will proceed to thinking about the way in which Nero, a famous appreciator of the arts, colluded in the creation of a Neronian Age through his patronage. We will consider some of the major poetic, philosophical, and dramatic works of the age. [AH]