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CLA 62 — Rebel with a Cause: Catiline and the Roman Revolution

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: On-campus course
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Sep 26—Nov 14
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 9
Unit: 1
Tuition: $395
Instructor(s): Christopher Krebs
On-campus course
7:00—8:50 pm
Sep 26—Nov 14
8 weeks
Drop By
Oct 9
1 Unit
Christopher Krebs
Beguiling. Riotous. Fallen. Lucius Sergius Catilina (108–62 BCE), “Catiline,” was a high-born Roman politician. Unobtrusively successful early in his career, he repeatedly failed in his bid for Rome’s highest office, the consulship. He lacked support among his peers—too popular were his policies: debt reduction for the penurious, reforms of a system bent to the breaking point, and curtailment of aristocratic privileges. Thwarted, he hatched up a conspiracy, which, revealed, led to his incrimination. He fled, fought, fell.

We know what he did, but who was he really? That we hardly know. Our primary sources are the speeches and letters by the orator and politician Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BCE) and The Catilinarian Conspiracy by the historian Gaius Sallustius Crispus (86–34 BCE). They shared in bias but differed in kind; each knew how to construct a persona that fit their respective narratives. The Catilines that emerge from their writings vary: There is the charmer, there is the mischievous rebel, there is the fallen hero. We hardly know who he was, but we may reconstruct what he was made to be. In this course, we will read works by Cicero and Sallust in the context of the Roman revolution and study their rhetoric; in the final week, we shall discuss Ibsen’s play Catiline and John Maddox Roberts’s novel The Catiline Conspiracy (SPQR II).

Christopher Krebs, Associate Professor of Classics, Stanford

Christopher Krebs studied Classics and philosophy in Berlin, Kiel, and Oxford and taught at Harvard before coming to Stanford. He is the author of A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’s Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich, which received the 2012 Christian Gauss Award. Krebs has also written for The Wall Street Journal and The Times Literary Supplement.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Sallust (Author), A.J. Woodman (Editor, Translator), Catiline's War, The Jurgurthine War, Histories (Penguin Classics) (ISBN 978-0140449488)
(Required) Marcus Tullius Cicero (Author), Michael Grant (Translator, Introduction), Cicero: Selected Political Speeches (Penguin Classics) (ISBN 978-0140442144)
(Required) John Maddox Roberts, The Catiline Conspiracy (SPQR II) (ISBN 978-0312277062)
(Required) Henrik Ibsen, Catiline: A Drama in Three Acts (ISBN 978-1522702177)
(Required) Barbara Levick, Catiline (Ancients in Action) (ISBN 978-1472534897)