Classics 202: Roman Civilization
Paper #1

Due: Tuesday, February 19 in lecture

Formal Requirements:

Topics (Choose One)

A. Compare the representation of fatherhood as it appears in Plutarch's "Life of Cato," Livy's treatment of early Roman history, and Plautus's "The Haunted House." How are paterfamilias figures depicted in these works? What differences can you discern in the authors' attitudes to them and to the values they represent? How are such differences to be explained? What do such divergences tell us about the authors and/or the Romans?

B. Analyze the treatment of slavery in Plutarch's "Life of Cato", and Plautus's "Haunted House." Is slavery portrayed in a positive or negative light? Is the work written from the perspective of slaves or slave-owners? Which work is more supportive of the institution of slavery as practised in the Greco-Roman world? Does either come close to modern views of slavery?

C. Read Plautus' "The Braggart Soldier" (in Four Comedies) and analyze its relationship to the Roman value system. What aspects of the system feature in the comedy? In what ways does the play support or endorse those values? In what ways does it undermine them or call them into question? Is it a subversive work, or does it ultimately reinforce conventional values?

General Hints and Suggestions:

1. Your paper should have an interesting title—one that will give your reader some sense of the contents and argument. (HINT: "Roman Civ. Paper #1" is not such a title).

2. This is a short paper in which you are asked to consider several different works or themes. Don't waste space on plot summary. Assume that your reader is generally familiar with the works you are discussing. You may briefly summarize particular incidents that are relevant to your topic or help you make a point, but the summary should be no longer than a sentence or two.

3. Avoid sweeping and unsupported generalizations, especially in the opening of a paper: "Throughout human history ..." is not a promising beginning for a paper on Plautus's "The Braggart Soldier."

4.  Make sure you support your argument with concrete evidence from the text. Don't quote large chunks of text just to fill up space, and don't quote more than you need to make your point, but do refer to specific incidents and quote brief passages that help to prove or illustrate the point you're trying to make. A lengthy quotation (long enough to be indented and single-spaced) should normally be followed by at least a few sentences of analysis.

5. Avoid purple prose, especially in the closing paragraph. ("Thus the greatness of Roman civilization which has inspired western culture bla, bla, bla ...").

6. Classics is a branch of the humanities, which are called that for a reason. While your paper is not meant to be a chatty chapter from your autobiography ("When I first read Livy's history, I found it very interesting..."), there's no need to pretend that it was written by a robot either. You don't have to say "It has been shown that ..." when "I have suggested that ..." is clearer and simpler. You may also find it helpful to use "we" and "us" to refer to the reader or audience" ("When we first encounter Theopropides ..."; "Livy is trying to show us that ...").

Citation Format:

The formatting of citations in Classics is similar to that in most other humanities fields. Short quotations (less than 3 lines) can be inserted within quotation marks within the text, "like this phrase." Longer quotations (3 lines +) should be single-spaced and double-indented, without quotation marks:

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.. (p. 14)
The first time you quote from a particular work, you should insert a footnote or endnote with full information about the edition/translation you're using, so that your reader knows what your page numbers refer to, e.g.
[1] Livy, The Early History of Rome, trans. A. de Selincourt (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1960), 47.
Subsequent quotations from that work can be placed in parenthesis within the text, e.g.
(Livy, p. 48)
Special care is required in citing Plautus, because he is writing verse, not prose (the same will apply to quotations from Vergil on the second paper). Short quotations should include a / mark to indicate the ends of lines, as when Grumio tells Tranio "Come out here from the kitchen, will you, whipping post?/ You show such cleverness among the pots and pans ...". (lines 1-2). Longer quotations (again, 3 lines +) should be single-spaced and double indented, without quotation marks, and should preserve the line-breaks found in the text, like this:
Come out here from the kitchen, will you, whipping post?
You show such cleverness among the pots and pans.
Come out here, come outside, you master's ruination!
I'll get revenge on you someday ... (lines 1-4)
Since your translation of Plautus is provided with line numbers in the right margin, you should use these, rather than page numbers, which are less exact. If in doubt, use Segal's article on "The Brothers Menaechmus" in the packet as a model.

Notes on Style, Grammar and Spelling.

This is a formal paper. You will be graded not only on the quality of your argument but on the clarity and professionalism of your presentation. Grammatical errors and misspellings will lower your grade. The advice below is intended to help you avoid some errors and weaknesses commonly found in student writing:

1. Prefer active formulations to passive ones. Not "Brutus is depicted to be a heroic figure" but "Livy depicts Brutus as a heroic figure."

2. Don't use "however" in mid-sentence instead of "but."


"Lucretia attempts to fend off Sextus's assault, however, Sextus persists,"
"Lucretia attempts to fend off Sextus's assaults, but he persists."
3. Avoid wishy-washy words like "rather," "quite" and "somewhat" (e.g. "Sextus Tarquinius is a somewhat evil figure"). Avoid, above all, the dreadful phrase "rather unique."

4. Avoid the word "seems."

5. Make sure you know the difference between the following, which your spell-checker will not catch:

6. Be careful about the spelling of proper names. Misspelling the names of authors creates an especially poor impression. (So does misspelling the name of your instructor ...).

Acknowledging Sources.

Your goal in this paper is to show that you can understand and analyze primary sources relating to Roman culture. You are not expected to use any secondary sources in writing the paper, although you are not forbidden either. If you do make use of any secondary sources (books, articles, websites ...), you must credit those sources appropriately. By submitting a paper you acknowledge that you have understood and are responsible for the material in the following document:

Sources, Their Use and Acknowledgement.

If you have any questions about documenting sources that are not answered here, please contact your section instructor.

The Writing Center.

We encourage you to make use of the resources offered by the UVA Writing Center.

Back to the Classics 202 home page.