The Rise of Rome

Rated 5 out of 5 by from GREAT BEGINNING TO ROMAN HISTORY As someone who has been in a Classical Grad School setting this was a very basic but good course. Dr Aldrete is a great professor with not only knowledge but you can see how much he cares for the subject. He brings a lot to the table but I would say this needed to be 48 lectures. There is just two much history and culture that could not be covered in this class.
Date published: 2020-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent course on the roman republic The professor is very animated and passionate about ancient Rome and it shows in his lectures . This is a very interesting period in Rome's history and one could learn very important and useful points
Date published: 2020-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I Miss This Course Already The teacher is very engaging. His love of the topic shines through and he makes the watcher interested in the topic too. There is not a dry point in this course. I am so sad that this course is over for me. I miss it and I will now be measuring other courses up to this one.
Date published: 2020-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic presentation Having watched many histories and documentaries on Roman history, this was a particularly enjoyable telling of the great story through the fall of the Republic, with some new-to-me observations and insights. The no-lectern format and camera work lets a natural story-teller like Prof. Aldrete shine, and I am about to turn to his set on the empire. I also appreciate being able to access programs through the on-line digital library.
Date published: 2020-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course by a great instructor. This course is really part of a 2 course sequence by the same teacher. This course covers the rise of Rome and the second course covers the Roman Empire period until it falls. I've actually purchased both courses, completed both and highly recommend both! If you really want to cover the full history of Rome from the beginning to the end, then I recommend both courses. If you only want to cover from the start of Rome thru the end of the Roman Republic, then this is the course for you. The professor is very good at presenting the material and it includes plenty of pictures and graphics and the like to make the lectures even more interesting. He is also able to tie the Roman Republic to current republics modeled after the Roman. He also provides many examples of how Rome has influenced the entire world, even down to the present day.
Date published: 2020-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Professor I thought the organization was clear. The map and other visual aids were extremely helpful in understanding. The content was very informative and easy to follow and well connected. One of the best presentations of history I’ve heard in a long time.
Date published: 2020-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Anacyclosis indeed! Drs Fagan and Harl lectured via The Great Courses on the origins of Rome, covering the early history as well as the development of the Republic. Those lectures were excellent and provided their emphasis of the important aspects of Rome's evolution. Like most of The Great Courses those sets of lectures, as well as this set by Dr Aldrete, represent a survey of Roman history, providing the historic highlights. For me, Dr Aldrete's version was a bit more entertaining and interesting (not taking anything away from Harl or Fagan), especially on the basis of Aldrete's guidebook, which I found to be excellent reading, with many colorful and informative insets. The final chapter included extensive quotes from Polybius in which the wonderful term 'anacyclosis' is introduced and defined (a theory of the evolution of types of government(s) a nation might exhibit). It made me wonder about our own country and when and where our next 'shift' might occur. Very much with the guidebook is enough. The die is cast when the coupon and sale are upon you.
Date published: 2020-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Rome was a victim of its own success A beautiful perspective of the origins of Rome and the rise and fall of the Roman republic.
Date published: 2019-12-12
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The Rise of Rome
Course Trailer
The City on the Tiber
1: The City on the Tiber

Begin with a simple question: “How did Rome become so powerful?” This core theme will run through much of this course. Here, Professor Aldrete considers the role of the city’s geography and the republic’s unique political structure, both of which allowed Rome to flourish.

32 min
The Monarchy and the Etruscans
2: The Monarchy and the Etruscans

The rise of Rome begins with a monarchy, though much of the city’s early years are shrouded in mystery. Unpack some of the key myths, including the epic of Aeneas and the story of Romulus and Remus, to gain insight into the city’s founding. Then reflect on neighboring civilizations such as the Etruscans.

31 min
Roman Values and Heroes
3: Roman Values and Heroes

Tales and literature from early Rome give us only partial insight into factual history, but they give us great insight into Roman values—what the Romans themselves identified as qualities of ideal citizens. Examine how a few Roman heroes, like Mucius, Horatius, Lucretia, and others embody values of courage, resourcefulness, determination, and more.

30 min
The Early Republic and Rural Life
4: The Early Republic and Rural Life

Witness the transition from the monarchy to the republic—a new era of government that would carry the city through half a millennium. Wade through the mythology and propaganda, as well as Roman historical sources such as the author Livy, to reconstruct how the transition happened, and what the new republic looked like.

29 min
The Constitution of the Roman Republic
5: The Constitution of the Roman Republic

One of the most lasting facets of the Roman Republic is its constitution, which inspired America’s founding fathers, among others. Continue your exploration of the early republic with a look at its system of government and its different classes of people—citizens and noncitizens, patricians and plebeians, senators, soldiers, and more.

31 min
The Unification of the Italian Peninsula
6: The Unification of the Italian Peninsula

What distinguished Rome from neighboring city-states was the republic’s dogged persistence in matters of war. Watch as the Romans conquered neighboring territories to gain control of the entire Italian peninsula—and witness defeats against the Gauls to the north and the Greeks to the east. See how the Romans treated those it conquered.

30 min
Roman Religion: Sacrifice, Augury, and Magic
7: Roman Religion: Sacrifice, Augury, and Magic

Most of us are familiar with some of the gods in the Roman pantheon, which included the likes of Jupiter and Mars, but one of the most fascinating aspects of Roman religion was the way it integrated elements from other cultures. Survey Roman religion as well as its institutions and personages such as the Pontifex Maximus and the vestal virgins.

30 min
The First Punic War: A War at Sea
8: The First Punic War: A War at Sea

The First Punic War is the longest continuous war in Greek and Roman history. Here, delve into the third century B.C.E., when Carthage commanded sea travel throughout the Mediterranean and the Roman Republic was looking to advance beyond the Italian Peninsula. Trace the first war against Carthage.

31 min
The Second Punic War: Rome versus Hannibal
9: The Second Punic War: Rome versus Hannibal

Although the First Punic War was a major victory, the Second Punic War was, in Professor Aldrete’s words, “the crucible in which the Roman Empire was forged.” Encounter the brilliance of Hannibal, learn the strategy and impact of the infamous Battle of Cannae, and see how Roman leaders combatted and eventually defeated him.

30 min
Rome Conquers Greece
10: Rome Conquers Greece

Although the Romans had seen great military and political victory, they were still provincial in many ways until they conquered the Greeks. At that point, Greek civilization entered and began to influence the Romans in unexpected ways. But, as you’ll learn in this lecture, the Roman expansion beyond Italy may have been something of an accident.

32 min
The Consequences of Roman Imperialism
11: The Consequences of Roman Imperialism

Roman imperialism gave the republic great and far-flung territory, but it left many of its people wanting. Soldiers entered the military expecting riches and glory, only to come home penniless. Meanwhile, conquered people were far from happy. Review how the Romans administered their growing territory—and its effect on those in the home city.

32 min
Roman Slavery: Cruelty and Opportunity
12: Roman Slavery: Cruelty and Opportunity

Rome is one of only a few civilizations throughout history to be a true slave state. Here, learn where Roman slaves came from and find out about the nature of their servitude—including what daily life was like for many slaves. Then look at ways slaves could buy or earn freedom, and what life was like for freed slaves.

31 min
Roman Women and Marriage
13: Roman Women and Marriage

Because Rome was such a patriarchal society, we have few historical records from women’s points of view. Nevertheless, historians have been able to deduce much about what life was like for Roman women. Life varied greatly between rich and poor, but women throughout the society were expected to marry and live sheltered lives.

30 min
Roman Children, Education, and Timekeeping
14: Roman Children, Education, and Timekeeping

Continue your study of ordinary Romans—this time with a look at the life of children, which could be quite brutal by today’s standards. Learn about their toys and games, and then turn to the system of education. Finally, take a look at the Roman system of timekeeping, which organized the days, months, and years.

29 min
Food, Housing, and Employment in Rome
15: Food, Housing, and Employment in Rome

Food, shelter, and a livelihood are three of the most basic needs for people everywhere. In this lecture, Professor Aldrete surveys what Romans ate, where they lived, what their homes were like, and what they did for a living. While the upper classes did not work, farming and skilled trades were important jobs throughout the republic.

31 min
The Gracchi Attempt Reform
16: The Gracchi Attempt Reform

By 133 B.C.E., Roman society was beginning to unravel. Veterans who had lost their fortunes in war, farmers who had lost their land, and neighboring citizens who had been conquered were all disgruntled. Meanwhile, factionalism was starting to emerge within the Roman government. See how these tensions began to wear away at the republic and how an attempted reform came not from the disenfranchised, but from one of the most privileged Roman families.

31 min
Gaius Marius the Novus Homo
17: Gaius Marius the Novus Homo

The late Roman republic was characterized by feuding aristocrats vying for power within the government. Meet Gaius Marius, an Italian warlord who went against the conventional mores and was elected 7 times as a consul. Follow his military exploits in Northern Africa and his rise to power within the republic.

31 min
Sulla the Dictator and the Social War
18: Sulla the Dictator and the Social War

Cracks continued to appear in Roman civilization, as the Social War broke out over citizenship and leaders continued to vie for power. Among these leaders was Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who used his military laurels to march into Rome and set himself up as a temporary dictator.

29 min
The Era of Pompey the Great
19: The Era of Pompey the Great

Continue your survey of late republic military leaders. In this lecture, you’ll find out about the life of Pompey the Great, who achieved fame and glory as a young man with ambitions as large as Alexander the Great’s. Trace the events of the first century B.C.E., including the slave revolt of Spartacus.

30 min
The Rise of Julius Caesar
20: The Rise of Julius Caesar

The beginning of the end of the Roman Republic starts with the rise of Julius Caesar. After setting the stage with Caesar’s early career, Professor Aldrete explores the dramatic events that led to Caesar’s election to the senate as well as his legislative and military victories. Tensions within Roman leadership were high.

30 min
Civil War and the Assassination of Caesar
21: Civil War and the Assassination of Caesar

The late republic tensions reached a conflagration the moment Caesar crossed the Rubicon River and led his army toward Rome. Follow the end of his astonishing career, from his exploits in Spain to his war with Egypt to his eventual assassination. Meet Mark Antony and the other conspirators.

30 min
Cicero and the Art of Roman Oratory
22: Cicero and the Art of Roman Oratory

Before witnessing the denouement of the Roman Republic, pause for a moment to reflect on Roman oratory—an art best practiced by the senator and writer Cicero. Cicero’s insights into rhetorical strategy and human nature continue to influence us today—and in his day allowed him to play the role of peacekeeper after Caesar’s murder.

30 min
Octavian, Antony, and Cleopatra
23: Octavian, Antony, and Cleopatra

Following Caesar’s assassination, there was a power vacuum in Rome. Caesar’s heir Octavian eventually took power, while Caesar’s general Mark Antony fled to his lover, Cleopatra. Trace the events from Octavian’s rise to Rome’s war with Egypt and the suicides of Mark Antony and Cleopatra.

31 min
Why the Roman Republic Collapsed
24: Why the Roman Republic Collapsed

The course opened with a simple question: “How did Rome become so powerful?” It closes with an equally simple—if equally unanswerable—question: “Why did the Roman Republic collapse?” In this final lecture, Professor Aldrete offers several leading theories, including the possibility that the republic was a victim of its own success.

32 min
Gregory S. Aldrete

As an ancient historian, my goals are to share the enthusiasm for and fascination with antiquity that I feel, and to show some of the connections between that world and our own.


University of Michigan


University of Wisconsin, Green Bay

About Gregory S. Aldrete

Dr. Gregory S. Aldrete is Professor of Humanistic Studies and History at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, where he has taught since 1995. He earned his B.A. from Princeton University and his master's degree and Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of Michigan. Honored many times over for his research and his teaching, Professor Aldrete was named by his university as the winner of its highest awards in each category, receiving both its Founders Association Award for Excellence in Scholarship and its Founders Association Award for Excellence in Teaching. That recognition of his teaching skills was echoed on a national level in 2009, when he received the American Philological Association Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Classics at the College Level-the national teaching award given annually by the professional association of classics professors. The recipient of many prestigious research fellowships including five from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Professor Aldrete has published several important books in his field, including Gestures and Acclamations in Ancient Rome; Floods of the Tiber in Ancient Rome; Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii, and Ostia; The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life I: The Ancient World (as editor); Unraveling the Linothorax Mystery: Reconstructing and Testing Ancient Linen Body Armor (with S. Bartell and A. Aldrete) and The Long Shadow of Antiquity: What Have the Greeks and Romans Done for Us (with A. Aldrete).

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