Second to One: Tiberius and Tiberian Culture
‘Tiberian culture’ almost seems oxymoronic. We readily think in terms of the ‘Age of Augustus’ or even the ‘Age of Nero’. But Tiberius, the second Roman emperor (AD 14-37), gives the impression of having failed (in Conte’s words) to 'organize a program of cultural hegemony’ in quite the same way as his immediate predecessor or eventual successor. In this seminar we shall test this hypothesis by exploring the nature of ‘Tiberian culture’ via history, literature, and material remains. In order to start from a Tiberian perspective, we begin with the Tiberian historian Velleius Paterculus’ brief account of the early part of his reign (Velleius’ narrative terminates with the year AD 29), and then move on to the dominant and much longer narrative written over 70 years later by the Flavian historian Tacitus in Annals 1-6. We will subsequently read representative selections from the moralist-historian Valerius Maximus, the fabulous fabulist Phaedrus, and the epigraphic record. We will also consider various components of the ‘Tiberian building program’ (considering in the process whether there even was such a thing). Class time will be divided between discussion (topics and issues set in advance each week) and some translation. Seminar participants will produce a seminar paper, preliminary work on which will be presented in a 10-15 minute oral report during an in-seminar ‘conference’ held during the last two class meetings and entitled (you guessed it) 'Second to One: Tiberius and Tiberian Culture’. Please note that this is graduate level seminar.