HIST 203 Lecture Outline (Fall 2016 – Week 1)

Week 1: Tuesday


Roman legionary’s clothing, armor, and equipment (9:27 min.):

Introduction to course:

Discuss syllabus, required textbooks and online readings, grading and deadlines, exams and research paper, discussion sections, expectations.

IMPORTANT: We need to be able to contact you via your UWM email address. If you use another Internet Service Provider instead (e.g., Gmail or Yahoo!), you must put a Forward command on your UWM email address immediately, so that your UWM email will be forwarded to the email address that you actually use. To do this, open your Office 365 email account, click on “?” to enter the Help app, type “forward mail,” and then follow the directions for forwarding mail.


“BC” and “AD” are terms used in a dating system that was devised by early Christian monks, and which was based on the presumed date of the birth of Jesus. The religiously-neutral terms “BCE” and “CE” are often used in place of the Christian terms “BC” and “AD.”
BC (“before Christ”) = BCE (“Before the Common Era”). Dates are expressed as, e.g., 4 BC or 4 BCE.
AD (Latin, “anno domini” or “in the year of the Lord”) = CE (“Common Era”). The Latin version is used before the date; the English version is used after the date as, e.g., AD 4 or 4 CE.

Since there is no “Year 0,” the first century BCE (or BC) runs from 1 BCE (or BC) to 100 BCE (or BC); the second century BCE (or BC) runs from 101 BCE (or BC) to 200 BCE (or BC), and so on.

Similarly, the first century CE (or AD) runs from 1 CE (or AD 1) to 100 CE (or AD 100); the second century CE (or AD) runs from 101 CE (or AD 101) to 200 CE (or AD 200); and so on.

A number of Latin abbreviations and editorial comments are commonly used by historians, and you need to be familiar with them. They include:

c. (Latin, “circa” ) = “around.” Thus, c. 4 BCE means “around 4 BCE.”
i.e. (Latin, “id est“) = “that is” (often used to signify, “in other words”).
e.g. (Latin, “exempli gratia“) = “for example”
recte = “rightly” or “correctly” (used to correct an error or omission in a text). E.g., “The chronicle says that Henry III died in 1273 (recte 1272).”
sic = “thus” (often used to point out an oddity or error in a text). E.g., “The chronicle says that Henry III died in 1273 (sic).”

Week 1: Thursday


Meet the Romans with Mary Beard: All Roads Lead to Rome (1 of 3; 59:06 min.):


Origins to 3rd century CE:

Click here for an Interactive map of the Roman Empire

Augustus, Julius Caesar’s grand-nephew and adopted son, becomes 1st emperor (31 BCE – 14 CE; see map)

1st century CE: empire develops under two dynasties: Julio-Claudians (founded by Augustus), 31 BCE-68 CE, and Flavians (founded by Vespasian), 69-96 CE

c. 4 BCE – 30 CE: Lifetime of Jesus in Judaea (Roman Palestine); birth of Christianity
. 50 – c. 150 CE: The 27 canonical texts of the New Testament written, including Acts of the Apostles (written by Luke, c. 65-85 CE)

Empire reaches its zenith in the 2nd century CE; encircles entire Mediterranean basin and extends beyond (see map)

Empire falls into chaos in the 3rd century CE:
  • attacks by Germans and Persians; collapse of all Roman frontiers (see map)
  • bloody competition among “barracks” emperors for imperial throne
  • plague, spiralling taxation, currency debasement, and inflation
  • rise of mysticism, Neoplatonism, and Christianity

The late Roman Empire:

Restoration of order by Diocletian (284-305 CE):
  • division of the Roman empire into Eastern Empire and Western Empire, ruled by a Tetrarchy of 2 Augusti and 2 Caesares from new capitals (see map)
  • divinization of the office of the emperor and diminishment of the Senate
  • reorganization of the army, paid for by high taxation
  • recoinage and imposition of strict wage and price controls to reduce inflation
  • occupations become hereditary
  • persecution of Christians leads to subsequent heresy of DONATISM
  • 312 adopts Christian symbols at Battle of Milvian Bridge and defeats rival to become emperor of Western Empire (see map)
  • 313 Edict of Milan legalizes Christianity within both halves of the Empire
  • 324 defeats rival to become emperor of entire Empire; moves imperial capital to CONSTANTINOPLE
  • 325 assumes authority over Church and convenes Council of Nicaea to confront heresy of ARIANISM; issues NICENE CREED

Emperor Theodosius the Great makes CHRISTIANITY THE ROMAN STATE RELIGION (391); at his death (395) the division of the Roman Empire into an Eastern Empire and a Western Empire becomes permanent (see map).

In the 5th century both the Eastern and Western Empires are assailed by attacks and invasions. The Eastern Empire (with its capital at Constantinople) survives. Rome itself is sacked twice: by the Visigoths in 410, and by the Vandals in 455, and the Western Empire crumbles; the last Western Emperor is deposed by a barbarian general in 476.

Click here for a picture-gallery of the Roman emperors

Click here for an image of Theodosius II (r. 408-450) and of his older sister and advisor Pulcheria