The Humanistic Tradition I

From the Ancient World to The Reformation

The Humanistic Tradition:  Study Questions.
Chapter 6: Rome: The Rise to Empire.

1. Describe the characteristics of the Roman Republic.  What value system does Josephus ascribe to the Roman army?  Why did the Republic collapse?  How was the Roman Empire created, what were its main features, and how was it able to survive for so long?  How and why did Roman law develop?  What was its immediate and long-term importance?

2. Explain why the philosophy of Stoicism appealed to the Romans.  What sort of advice does Seneca give in his On Tranquility of Mind?  Does this philosophy appeal to you?  Why or why not?  Explain why the Romans placed such emphasis on duty and oratory (see the excerpts from Cicero and Tacitus).

3. Describe the contributions of the Romans to architecture, especially the many uses of the arch.  What was the function of Roman amphitheaters and baths?  Describe the Pantheon and explain its importance for the subsequent history of architecture in Europe and the Americas.  What was the function of sculpture – such as Trajan’s column or portraits – in the Roman Empire?  Describe a typical Roman villa (for the affluent) and its painted decoration.

4. What were Rome’s most significant contributions to the humanistic tradition?  Use specific examples to support your opinion.

5. How did the arts serve as propaganda in the Roman Empire.  Give specific examples.

6. If you had a choice, would you choose to live in Athens (fifth-century BC) or imperial Rome (first-century AD).  Support your opinion with specific evidence.

7. What aspects of everyday life (words and terms, political institutions, advertising logos, etc) remind us of our debt to the classical tradition?  Does it influence the way we think and act?  Give specific examples.

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Last Update:  23.VIII.2006

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