Classical Civilization: Topic Courses

2023-2024 Fall/Winter

CLA395H5S - Topics in Classics: The Peoples of Ancient Italy (Instructor: M. Haase)

Samnites? Umbri? Picentes? Veneti? Messapians? If you want to discover the peoples that played a crucial role in ancient Italy before seemingly vanishing from sight under Roman rule, then this course is for you. Likewise, if you want to gain an in-depth understanding of the historical, cultural, political, and economic context within which Rome rose to power, then this course is for you.

In this course, we study the rich history of a lesser-known area of the ancient world, pre-Roman Italy, that is, the Italy that thrived alongside Rome. We explore its cultures, politics and conflicts, languages and writing systems, religious rituals, trade connections and customs. Our focus is on the indigenous peoples of Italy, their societies, their interactions in times of war and peace, and their gradual transformation through contact with Rome. Together we explore the material record pertaining to the every-day life, architecture, art, sanctuaries, and burials of Italy’s early inhabitants. We interpret texts from Greek and Latin literature as well as inscriptions set up by the peoples of Italy in their own languages. We study the ways in which these different sources complement each other. We search for connections across languages, material records and communities, highlighting how the stories of the peoples of Italy were interwoven with Greek and Roman history, but also identifying their separate identities. This course thus showcases the interconnectedness of ancient Italy in the first millennium BCE.