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“Reacting to the Past Pedagogy and ‘Beware the Ides of March, Rome in 44 BCE’”

Carl A. Anderson and T. Keith Dix

Imagine a Roman history or culture course in which every student rises without prompting to address the class, students discuss the class on their own time with their classmates, are seldom if ever absent, write informed text-based position papers and essays, and conduct the class themselves while the instructor observes and occasionally answers questions. You have just imagined  a session of “Reacting to the Past.”

 “Beware the Ides of March, Rome in 44 BCE” recreates the struggle for power and control of Rome following the assassination of Julius Caesar. The game begins immediately after the assassination, and most of the action takes place in the Senate, which must deal with various threats to order in the city and in the empire. Students are divided into two principal factions, “Caesar­ians” (the larger) and “Republicans.” Some players are non-partisan, or at least uncommitted, members of the Senate.

Character assignments are based on real persons who actually associated with, or knew, one another; and character’s views and interests in the game (so far as they can be known) are consistent with views the real persons actually held. Time permitting, sample role sheets from the game will be distributed and the members of the audience will be invited to participate in a meeting of the Senate.

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Interactive Pedagogy and the Teaching of Ancient History

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