Ancient Empires: Culture and Power in the Ancient Mediterranean

Course Material 2024/25

The second-century BC Greek writer Polybius, like many in antiquity, compared Roman hegemony over the Mediterranean with previous empires, which had already come and gone. This course examines imperial rule from the Persian empire in the sixth century BC to Late Antiquity, when Roman dominion in the East were threatened by the successors of the Persians in what is now Iran. It will explore how empires rose and fell – Athens, Sparta, Macedon and the Hellenistic kingdoms.  Issues to be explored will include how empires was created in the first place; the ways in which they both exploited the territories subjected to them and sought to unify their empires under central control; and how the capitals of imperial powers reflected their imperial status.  

This course provides an outline history of the ancient world, which will be complemented on the study of the cultural, social and economic history in the Topic paper T4 Inequalities and social change in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.