Italy Before Rome (CLA1230)
|Staff||Dr Katherine McDonald - Convenor|
|Duration of Module||Term 2: 11 weeks;|
In this module, we will explore the non-Roman cultures of Italy, with a particular emphasis on the Etruscan, Samnite and Greek societies of Italy from c. 800 BC – 80 BC. We will focus on the key sites which provide our best evidence of life in the peninsula in the first millennium BC, including Cumae, Taras, Capua, Caere, Clusium and Tarquinia. We will study these sites from multiple viewpoints, taking in their art, culture, literature, philosophy, law, politics, religion and burial practices. The module will also cover the relationship between these societies and the wider Mediterranean world, including the Greek East and the growing Roman Empire.
Students will learn to use both Greco-Roman literary sources and material sources to inform their understanding of the diverse history of Italy, and will develop their skills in taking an interdisciplinary approach to ancient cultures. They also will have a chance to read texts written in a wide variety of ancient Italian languages (with translations provided).
Topics may include: art and culture in Italy; death and burial in the Etruscan world; the process and impact of the Greek “colonisation” of Italy; philosophy, science and law, including Pythagoras and other pre-Socratic schools; magic and divination in Etruscan, Greek and Samnite culture; the spread of literacy in Italy; early Latin literature in its Italian context; the integration of Italy into the Roman empire; and the modern reception of Etruscan culture.
ILO: Module-specific skills
- 1. Knowledge and understanding of the archaeological and written sources relating to the Etruscan, Greek and Samnite societies of ancient Italy
- 2. Ability to describe and evaluate archaeological, inscriptional and iconographic sources from Italy, and assess how literary sources complement and aid our understanding of these material sources
- 3. An understanding of the culture and history of Etruscan, Greek and Samnite society in ancient Italy, and how these societies fit into the wider Mediterranean context
ILO: Discipline-specific skills
- 4. Development of critical approaches to ancient source material, and how archaeological evidence relates to other sources and the wider socio-historical context
- 5. Experience in conducting independent research, with guidance from the lecturer, including library and online research, and assessing modern academic writing
- 6. Experience in formal academic writing, including essays and commentary on particular sources and objects
ILO: Personal and key skills
- 7. Development of skills in critical analysis
- 8. Ability to read, assess and organize diverse information to form a sound argument
- 9. Experience in writing an analytical essay or a critical discussion of a piece of source material
- 10. Experience in conducting independent research, with guidance from the lecturer, including experience in time management
- 11. Development of teamwork and discussion skills through small group work
Introduction: the cultures and communities of Italy
Death and burial in the Etruscan world
Greek “colonies” – apoikiai, emporia and mother-cities
Great Greece? Law, science and pre-Socratic philosophy in Greek-speaking Italy
Samnites and Oscan-speaking Italy
Alphabets and literacy in Italy
Magic and divination
Early Latin literature in its Italian context
“Becoming Roman” – Italy’s relationship with Rome
The reception of pre-Roman culture
Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities||Guided independent study||Placement / study abroad|
Details of learning activities and teaching methods
|Category||Hours of study time||Description|
|Scheduled learning and teaching activities||22||Lectures (11 x 2 hours)|
|Scheduled learning and teaching activities||5||Seminars (5 x 1 hour)|
|Guided independent study||123||Private study|
Summative assessment (% of credit)
|Coursework||Written exams||Practical exams|
Details of summative assessment
|Form of assessment||% of credit||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|Source commentary||30||750 words||1-10||Mark and written comments|
|Exam||70||2 hours||1-10||Mark and written comments|
Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)
|Original form of assessment||Form of re-assessment||ILOs re-assessed||Timescale for re-assessment|
|Source commentary||Source commentary||1-10||ref/def period|
Indicative learning resources - Basic reading
Giuliano Bonfante and Larissa Bonfante (2002) The Etruscan Language: An Introduction. Revised edition. Manchester.
Guy Bradley, Elena Isayev and Corinna Riva (eds.) (2007) Ancient Italy: Regions without Boundaries. Liverpool.
Larissa Bonfante (ed.) (1986) Etruscan Life and Afterlife. Warminster.
Robert Garland (2014) Wandering Greeks: The Ancient Greek Diaspora from Homer to the Death of Alexander the Great. Princeton.
Sybille Haynes (2000) Etruscan Civilisation: A Cultural History. London.
Kathryn Lomas (1996) Roman Italy 338 BC – AD 200: A Sourcebook. London/New York.
Jean Macintosh Turfa (ed.) (2013) The Etruscan World. Abingdon.
David Ridgway (1992) The First Western Greeks. Cambridge.
E.T. Salmon (1967) Samnium and the Samnites. Cambridge.
Rafael Scopacasa (2015) Ancient Samnium: Settlement, Culture, and Identity between History and Archaeology. Oxford.
Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (2008) Rome’s Cultural Revolution. Cambridge.
Module has an active ELE page?
Available as distance learning?
Last revision date
Key words search
Etruscan, Greek, Samnite, pre-Roman Italy, Iron Age