Simulating the Senate: Classics Course Immerses Students in Roman History and Government

Classics 214 senate meeting (Illustration credit: Abby McBride)

A Roman senate meeting in Michael Nerdahl’s class “The Republic of Rome and the Evolution of Executive Power” (Illustration credit: Abby McBride)

“All in favor?” says Lucius Manlius, surveying a sea of raised hands in the Roman senate. “Thus granted. Sweet.”

Manlius, a.k.a. Bowdoin senior Luke Lamar, was recently elected as consul by his fellow senators—otherwise known as the students of Classics 214, “The Republic of Rome and the Evolution of Executive Power.” The students are immersed in a month-long simulation of the Roman senate of 190-187 B.C., in the aftermath of the Second Punic War. As it happens, today’s biggest buzz is that the dreaded Hannibal was recently spotted in the east.

Taught by Lecturer in Classics Michael Nerdahl, Classics 214 might just be the world’s most lively history and government class. After spending an introductory segment learning the basics of Roman government, the students have been assigned Roman identities, complete with hometowns, ages, offices, family trees, patrons, and clients.

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  1. Robert C Foster III says:

    We were there. It’s magic. The senate will blow your mind although highly restsored. All of your students MUST take a week’s total immersion trip to Rome. It is indeed the cradle of civilization

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