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Sketchbook: Souvenir of Naples

Blog: Roman Fire, Texan Flood—Discussing Ancient Disasters in the Classroom

By Jane Millar | October 30, 2017

On a summer night in 64 CE a conflagration that would be remembered as the Great Fire of Rome began somewhere in the tightly-packed shops and streets around the Circus Maximus. “A disaster,” the historian Tacitus called it, “graver and more dreadful than all that have befallen this city by the violence of fire” (Annals 15.38). His account goes on to describe panic and destruction, followed by rumors, resentment, and rebuilding. Ancient responses to disasters like these are the focus of a new first-year studies course at the University of Texas at Austin, for which I am the teaching assistant. The following is a reflection on what we might do as classics and Read more …