Civics Lesson

Civics Course: Ancient Rome
Title: The Rise and Fall of a Democracy
Special Focus on the Role and Importance of Women in Ancient Rome
Reference Text… “Octavian: Rise to Power”

Course Objective:
Gain a unique understanding as to how our Constitution preserves our Republic by studying the fall of Rome’s Democracy in the 1st century BC.

The course begins with the study of Ancient Rome from its Founding in 753 BC, through its Age of Kings up to and including 509 BC, when the Romans overthrew their tyrannical Etruscan king and replaced him with a democratic Republic government. Comparisons are made to U.S. history when, in 1776, our forefathers overthrew the rule of Britain’s tyrannical King George III and created our democratic Republic government.

This is followed by an in-depth study of Ancient Rome in the 1st century BC, the most pivotal time in its 1000 year history. During this period, the Roman leaders of the day failed to support their Democracy by not living up to the laws and principles they established 500 years earlier. This caused their Democracy to fail and Rome transitioned into a “Principate” type Empire as it came under the rule of one man, Caesar Augustus.

The course concludes with a review of the main characters and their roles in the failure of their Democracy. Why did they break their laws and rules that had worked so well for their Republic? What caused the political clashes that brought their government down? This review will enable the student to gain more insight into what is needed to better support our democratic Republic government and keep it safe.

The lessons are designed to be more interesting because they’re told through the personal stories of the main characters and their relationships with one another. The student can benefit from learning what these people were “really like.” This approach also provides a better understanding of the important roles that women had in this historical story.

Benefits and Goals for Students:
Gain a basic understanding of the major forms of government (Democracy, Monarchy, Aristocracy, Dictatorship, and Oligarchy).

Develop an ability to identify and understand what combination of events can cause a democratic Republic to fail and possibly be replaced by the tyranny of a sole ruler.

Attain a greater interest in studying history by learning how entertaining the people in it may be.

Obtain a basic framework upon which to further study the history of Ancient Rome.

What the Students are expected to be able to do:
Give a brief dissertation on the Timeline of Ancient Rome and its important historical dates.
Provide an outline of the basic forms of Government and briefly explain each.
Explain the failure of Rome’s Democracy and what we can learn from it and use today.
Provide an opinion as to what they believe the people of Ancient Rome were “really like.”
Describe what they believe the responsibilities of the Citizens of a Democracy are.

Rome initially prospered under the “Principate” Empire, but several hundred years later (beyond the scope of this course) the “Principate” became a “Dominate” type Empire. This ultimately led to the fall of Ancient Rome.