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GCE Classics

OCR Advanced GCE in Classics: H438

Unit AH4 (Entry Code F394): Roman History: the use and abuse of power

Last updated : 29 May 2009
This Support Material booklet is designed to accompany the OCR Advanced GCE specification in Classics for teaching from September 2008.


Contents 2

Introduction 3

Unit F394: Roman History: the use and abuse of power 5

Unit F394: Roman History: the use and abuse of power 22

Unit F394: Roman History: the use and abuse of power 42

Unit F394: Roman History: the use and abuse of power 45

Unit F394: Roman History: the use and abuse of power 50

Unit F394: Roman History: the use and abuse of power 54

Unit F384: Roman History: the use and abuse of power 57

Other forms of Support 59



A new structure of assessment for A Level has been introduced, for first teaching from September 2008. Some of the changes include:

  • The introduction of stretch and challenge (including the new A* grade at A2) – to ensure that every young person has the opportunity to reach their full potential

  • The reduction or removal of coursework components for many qualifications – to lessen the volume of marking for teachers

  • A reduction in the number of units for many qualifications – to lessen the amount of assessment for learners

  • Amendments to the content of specifications – to ensure that content is up-to-date and relevant.

OCR has produced an overview document, which summarises the changes to Gujarati. This can be found at, along with the new specification.

In order to help you plan effectively for the implementation of the new specification we have produced this Scheme of Work and sample Lesson Plans for Gujarati. These Support Materials are designed for guidance only and play a secondary role to the Specification.

Our Ethos

All our Support Materials were produced ‘by teachers for teachers’ in order to capture real life current teaching practices and they are based around OCR’s revised specifications. The aim is for the support materials to inspire teachers and facilitate different ideas and teaching practices.

Each Scheme of Work and set of sample Lesson Plans is provided in Word format – so that you can use it as a foundation to build upon and amend the content to suit your teaching style and students’ needs.

The Scheme of Work and sample Lesson Plans provide examples of how to teach this unit and the teaching hours are suggestions only. Some or all of it may be applicable to your teaching.

The Specification is the document on which assessment is based and specifies what content and skills need to be covered in delivering the course. At all times, therefore, this Support Material booklet should be read in conjunction with the Specification. If clarification on a particular point is sought then that clarification should be found in the Specification itself.

A Guided Tour through the Scheme of Work

Unit F394: Roman History: the use and abuse of power

Suggested teaching time

16 weeks


Option 1: The fall of the Roman Republic 81-31 BC

Topic outline

Suggested teaching and homework activities

Suggested resources

Points to note

  • For discussion and information:

  • Lewis and Rheinold: Roman Civilisation Vol. 1

  • Lacey and Wilson Res Publica (BCP)

  • J.R. Patterson: Political Life in the city of Rome (BCP) is a useful and concise introduction

  • P. Bradley: Ancient Rome: using evidence contains numerous charts, maps and sources

  • T. Weidemann: Cicero and the End of the Roman Republic (BCP)

  • Lactor 10 Cicero Cilician Letters (for provincial matters)

  • M. Crawford The Roman Republic (Fontana)

  • H.H. Scullard From the Gracchi to Nero for a narrative account

  • F.B. Marsh The Roman World 146-30 BC.

  • D. Shotter : Fall of the Roman Republic Routledge

  • For coins (and sculpture etc) of the Late republic:



  • The basic format of this SoW is to take the events in chronological order as the easiest approach for students to gain familiarity with the facts and sources

  • The themes in the specification can be accessed at various points in the scheme; there will be a need to focus on the themes for the students at various points. Throughout this scheme of work relevant original sources are suggested, as well as useful secondary sources or information. Many students approaching this option will have studied Roman History at AS. However, some may not, having studied other options in the Classics suite at AS. This SOW, therefore, is organised as if the student is approaching a new subject. Some of the suggested activities may be omitted by those who have studied Roman History at AS

Sources: the main sources of information:

Contemporary - Sallust; Caesar: life, period of writing, aims and methods, style and approach to historiography; importance for the period.


Cicero: speeches and letters – problems as a source of evidence;

Plutarch, Suetonius: Lives;;

Appian, Dio Cassius;


  • Read the selections of sources: students to discuss what they learn about their approach and methods:

  1. sources and use of them;

  2. view of previous historical writing;

  3. use of speeches;

  4. approach to accuracy.

  • Using inscriptions and archaeological evidence;

  • Using poetry (Catullus, Ovid).

How useful are the different sources; why do accounts differ?

Take two reports of a recent event in newspapers and compare them as an exercise in assessing sources.

  • Two accounts of the same event: Caesar’s assassination In Plutarch (Caesar 66) and Suetonius (Julius Caesar 82)

  • Sallust: Preface to Catiline

  • Livy: Preface

  • Patterson ch. 1

  • Roman Civilisation Vol.1 (Lewis and Rheinhold) has a selection of authors’ views on the writing of history and brief biographies of authors

  • This aspect can be covered whenever it is felt suitable, although the earlier the better

  • The assassination in the sources could be compared to its portrayal in various films and TV series, such as Rome

Introduction to Rome, Italy and the Empire

Names and places:

the city of Rome


The Empire (changes during the period).

  • Identify the key places and in the city

  • Gain familiarity with the names and places in Italy and Empire

  • Students could research some places and names themselves, especially the less familiar places e.g. cities in Italy, provinces of the Empire, battle sites etc

  • Maps showing additions to the Empire in the period would be useful at this stage

  • Bradley for maps of Italy and the Empire; also Wiedemann; World of Rome (CUP) pp. xvii-xxiv.




  • M. Goodman The Roman World 44 BC-AD 180 ch. 2

  • Shotter ch. 2

Political background

Students can research these topics for homework given an outline:

  • senate

  • assemblies

  • magistrates

Political differences (ideologies?)

  • optimates

  • populares

  • Distribution of power in 81 BC

  • Are there any modern parallels we can make to understand the political organisation?

  • World of Rome ch. 3 sections 118ff; 130141 Magistrates; ch 4. 166-172 Senate; 158-165 Assemblies

  • Patterson ch. 3 and ch. 5 (practice of politics)

  • Wiedemann ch.s 1-3 : background; distribution of power

  • Bradley pp. 218-222 senate and oligarchy

  • M. Goodman The Roman World 44 BC-Ad 180 pp. 21-27; Shotter ch. 1

  • Appian: introduction to the Civil wars {section 2 violence]

  • Cicero pro Sestio 96-105 optimates and populares

  • [Lactor 7 p 19ff]

  • Lewis and Rheinhold Vol. 1 No. 101

  • Sallust Catline 10-13 decline in morality; change in political activity

  • The intention is to ensure students understand who had power and how it was used

Social and Economic context:


  • Social structures: senators, equestrians and plebs: the political power of different groups;

  • patronage and clients;effect of conflicts on the effectiveness of deocracy and economic contexts:

  • nformation t

  • trade, agriculture and industry;

  • importance of the grain supply;

  • Use maps to trace important areas for Rome’s economy

  • Discussion: The advantages and disadvantages of slavery for Rome.

  • Scullard Ch 1.4 Equestrians and plebs; ch. 9 economic context

  • Brunt Social Conflicts ch. 2

  • Wiedemann Chs 1/2 : competition and patronage

  • Crawford The Roman Republic Appian. 3 (Equites)

  • Velleius : the effect of wealth 2.1

  • Appian Civil Wars 1.7-8 economic state of Italy

  • Plutarch Gaius Gracchus 5: grain law

  • Bradley Ch. 13 pp.196-208 (chart p 197ff)

  • World of Rome Ch. 6 269-300

  • M. Goodman The Roman World 44 BC-Ad 180 ch. 2

  • Cicero on the Agrarian Law (in Res Publica pp.98-100): populares and power. [Lactor 7 pp.25ff]

  • maps

  • Roman economy


  • Crawford ch.s 13 and 14

  • One issue here is the use of economic elements by politicians to gain support

  • Another which might be considered is the role of patronage in politics

Government of the Empire


  • The system of provincial commands: proconsul/proprietor;

  • the duties and role of the governor;

  • his staff

  • the benefits for the Roman governors;

  • the advantages and disadvantages for the provincials

Students: discussion - How far does the possession and expansion of the Empire affect political activity?

  • Richardson: Roman Provincial Administration ch. 2 especially.

  • Bradley ch. 13

  • World of Rome pp.126-131; pp. 241-248

  • Marsh ch. 19

  • Scullard ch.9

  • Cicero Verres 1: corruption and exploitation

  • Cicero’s letter to Quintus 1.1

  • This topic may be dealt with at any point in the programme which seems suitable: the material should be relevant to the period 81-30 BC

  • Lactor 10 Cicero’s Cilician Letters provides material

  • It is useful to relate this topic to the previous one on social and economic context; the growth in wealth (for a few); the opportunities for colonies and trade; the influx of slaves; the resources used to meet demands of the poor

Sulla, Marius and the changes in political power

Brief outline of the rivalry and the events.

Issues to consider:

  • means of gaining power: assemblies and elections

  • the army

  • provincial commands

  • bribery, corruption and violence

  • Sallust Catiline in Politics.

  • Scullard c36-39: analysis of political activity;

  • Sallust Jugurthine War 64-65 (pp. 100-102 Penguin) – Marius’ effort to win popularity; 85 (p.122) enlisting anyone in the army;[also Plutarch Marius 9]

  • Plutarch: Marius 10: rivalry and its effects;

  • Plutarch: Marius 12: illegal consulship (no.2);

  • Plutarch: Marius 28: efforts to win 6th consulship: popularity- effects of actions;

  • Plutarch: Marius 35 Violence of Sulpicius; Plutarch Sulla 9-10: use of the army

  • Wiedemann ch. 4: army h.3/4; Shotter ch.s 4 and 5

  • Marsh History of the Roman World ch.6

  • Marius and Sulla a useful, brief article on the topic with references to sources etc

  • A focus here is how political activity is changing and how power is being re-distributed



  • Timelines and references

  • See also Plut. Sulla 12.6-9: the corruption of generals and armies

Sulla’s constitutional changes and redistribution of power: success or failure?

Outline reforms and the period of the 70.s

Role of the senate and the response to the challenges to its authority e.g.:

  • Pompey’s commands;

  • Lepidus: military challenge

  • Sertorius

  • Spartacus

  • The agitation for restoration of the tribune

  • the corn subsidy.


What were his aims?

What were the effects?

Did Sulla succeed in his aims?

  • Bradley pp.289-93; p.295-7 (Sulla); pp.301-10 (70s)

  • Marsh ch.8 and 9 (1-5)

  • Crawford ch. 14

  • Brunt ch. 6

  • Shotter ch. 5

  • Wiedemann ch.s 5/6: reforms and effects.

  • Proscriptions: Plut. Sulla 31; Appian 1. 95-6; Plut. Crassus 6

  • Plut. Sulla 33: need to reward followers

  • Velleius on Sulla

  • Appian: the reforms 1.100ff

Sallust Histories: Macer’s speech: the tribune

  • During this and following topics the students should focus on the issues in politics: e.g. the tribunate; the courts; the use of commands and the army; factions in the senate; corruption and violence

  • Corruption in courts : Cicero In Verrem 1 35-38; 42; see also Patterson ch 5: bribery and violence

Pompey and Crassus in 70s and 60s: the senate fails to meet the challenges.

using the sources consider:

  • how they both gained power and maintained it

  • their importance in the 70s and 60s;

  • the significance of each in the changes in political activity

  • the main events in their careers;

  • the legality or otherwise of their actions: e.g. Pompey’s consulship

  • Plut. Pompey 21-22 consulship; army and politics.

  • Plut. Crassus 12: rivalry with Pompey; 7: Crassus’ means to power; 13 censorship; 10-11 Spartacus;

  • Plut. Pompey 24-5 : effects of piracy; 30-31 Manilian Law and the reaction of the nobles

  • Cassius Dio 36. 23-24 Pompey and the pirates

  • Bradley pp. 312-317: 60s ( an extracts from Cicero’s speech on the Manilian Law); pp. 319-21 Pompey in the East; p. 321-2; Crassus.

  • Wiedemann ch.s 7 and 8

  • Scullard Ch.s 5, 6-10

  • Marsh ch. 9 for Pompey; Ch 10 for Crassus and the agrarian law

  • Shotter ch. 6

  • Students should consider the challenges these individuals posed for the senatorial oligarchy and how they responded

  • The way in which the demands of the people were used is another issue in this period

  • The tribunate as an agent of the powerful should be developed

The Catilinarian Conspiracy

63 BC: a failed attempt to change the balance of power?

Using the sources students should develop an outline of events and assess:

  1. the role of individuals;

  2. the impact upon politics;

  3. the effect on the careers of those involved;

  4. the social and economic causes.

  • Sallust Catiline selections

  • C.’s speech (19-20 pp.188-90); Cicero’s election (23); initial plots and reaction in Rome (28-31 pp.194-7); Catiline leaves Rome (31-2); letters of Manlius and Catiline (33-6 pp.199-201); Lentulus and Allobroges (p.206);

  • 46-49: 5 plotters caught; Crassus and Caesar involved?

  • 58ff pp.228ff: the battle of Pistoria

  • Wiedemann chs 8 and 9: Cicero’s consulship and aftermath

  • Marsh ch 10.4 the conspiracy

  • Lactor 7 ch. 5 for Cicero selections

  • Lacey and Wilson Res Publica: extracts from Cicero

  • Plutarch Cicero 10-22 for the story: his aims (10); Crassus’ letters (15); Caesar suspected (20); reaction against Cicero (23);

  • Suetonius Julius Caesar 9 and 14 for his involvement with Crassus.

  • Cicero Letters (Shackleton-Bailey) is also useful: No.6 defends himself against Metellus

Julius Caesar: Pompey, Crassus and the consulship: power in the hands of a few men.

Outline the Events from 62-59: Pompey’s return and the crisis:

  • aims of each politician;

  • the parts played by Cato, Cicero and others;

  • the involvement of the demands of the equestrians, plebs, veterans;

  • the outcome: Caesar’s consulship: violence and illegality.

Students: debate: the rights and wrongs of Caesar’s actions.

  • Caesar and Roman Politics (BCP) is a good resource for evidence.

  • Cicero Letters (Shackleton-Bailey): No.8 Clodius and Pompey(Ad Att. 1.13); No. 9 (1.14); No.11 (1.18) failure of opposition; No.14 (2.16) Caesar’s consulship; No.15 (2.19) popular reaction.

  • Plut. Pompey 44 Cato’s opposition; Cassius Dio 37.49 Pompey’s demands.

  • Plut. Crassus 7: his political skill at using people

  • Appian Civil War 2.8 Cato opposes Caesar

  • Velleius 2.44 the triumvirate formed (also Dio 37.55-6)

  • Dio 38.1-9 : opposition of Bibulus and Caesar’s use of violence

  • Suetonius Julius Caesar 19-20 election and consulship.

  • Marsh ch 11 (1-2); Scullard Ch.6 4-5

  • Bradley p.335: chart of the aims; 334-40 59 BC

  • Students might consider how far Cato was correct to consider this marked the end of the Republic

  • [Plutarch Pompey 47]

  • Lactor 7 ch 6

The 50s and the dominance of violence and corruption.

Discuss the significance of:

  • Clodius’ tribunate: his acts;

  • the exile and return of Cicero;

  • Pompey’s role in the violence – Milo;

  • Pompey’s new powers: the corn command

  • The revival of the agreement at Lucca;

  • chaos and disruption in 56 and 55 at elections – use of force;

  • the consulships of Crassus and Pompey – extended commands in provinces.

  • the death of Clodius and Pompey’s gain;

  • Pompey’s legislation and the break with Caesar

  • Homework: students to provide a timeline of events

  • Cicero No.16 (AD ATT.2.21): Cicero’s analysis of the state of the republic

  • Velleius 2.45/ Dio 38.14: Cicero’s exile

  • Plutarch Cicero 28, 30-32 exile/ 33 Pompey supports Cicero’s recall; 35 Defence of Milo (52 BC) fails

  • Suetonius Julius Caesar 24: Lucca; 26-27: Caesar’s means of winning support

  • Plut. Pompey 48-49 P.’s reaction to Clodius’ violence; Pompey’s corn command

  • Cicero Letters 21 (ad Att.4.1): corn command: economic problems

  • Cicero Letters 38 (ad Fam 1.9): Pompey and Caesar reconciled at Lucca; Cicero told to behave

  • Plut. Pompey 51; Crassus 14; Dio 39.26: reasons for agreement

  • Dio 39.27; 39.21 – manipulation of elections for 55 BC; Plut. Pompey 52: force used against Domitius.

  • Plut. Cato 42: bribery and force to prevent Cato’s election

  • Plut. Crassus 16: province of Syria

  • Dio 40.45: disruption of elections by tribunes

  • Appian CivilWars 2.19 -20 Pompey’s ambitions; Plut Pompey 54 sole consul; Velleius 2.47; Dio 40.50

  • Dio 40.48 Clodius’ death; Appian Civil War 2.21; Caesar Gallic War 7.1

  • Cicero letters 66 (ad Att. 8.3)

This period allows some themes to be brought together: e.g:

  • the importance of certain institutions;

  • the significance of provincial commands: armies, wealth and glory;

  • patronage and bribery;

  • violence and fraud;

  • weaknesses of the senate and the oligarchy.

  • the methods of propaganda: coins, buildings, public works, games, largesse etc


  • Coins 1st c. BC

  • Cicero Letters 23 (AD Fam 7.1) Pompey’s games; 55 BC

Lactor 7. ch. 7 – fraud and violence

  • Res Publica ch.4

  • Scullard ch 6.6-8

  • Marsh ch. 13

  • World of Rome (CUP) Ch 1. 61-73

  • Bradley pp.347-59; chart on Pompey 359-60 and evaluation 361-67 (extracts from Cicero)

  • Wiedemann ch. 10

  • Shotter ch.7

Civil War: end of politics as we know it.

The senatorial failure: review

Outline the events leading to the war:

  • role of Pompey

  • role of Caesar

  • role of the oligarchy-Cato etc;

Students to identify the issues and consider the question of the blame for starting the war.

  • Appian.2.25-7: Caesar’s position/opposition of the nobles

  • Velleius 2.48 : tribune Curio; 2.33 a view of Pompey.

  • Cicero Letters 43 and 56 (ad Fam 8.1/8.14): views on Pompey and Caesar; 66 ad Att 8.1) assessment of Pompey’s role;

  • Cicero Letter to Atticus. 8.11: ‘They both want to be kings.’

  • Suetonius Julius Caesar 28-29: attacks on Caesar in the senate; 30: assessment of Caesar’s aims

  • Caesar Civil War 1.4.: his view of Pompey

  • Plutarch Pompey 56-59: events; Caesar 28: aims of both men

  • Wiedemann ch. 10 and 11 for this period.

  • Marsh ch. 13 pp. 222-229

  • Lactor 7 ch. 8 Civil War

  • Crawford ch.15

  • The review can consider the gradual decline of the senate in terms of authority and power: what had caused this?

  • The careers of individuals and rise to prominence.

  • (Bradley pp.368-375 chart of careers Pompey, Caesar, Crassus, Cicero);

  • Caesar and Roman Politics 60-50 BC: source material.

  • BBC series Rome 1 might be useful here as an imaginative recreation of the period.

Caesar’s dictatorship: the power of the individual.

Outline the actions of Caesar in his dictatorship:

  • Discuss the support and opposition to him.

  • Review the evidence for support and opposition

  • The status of the institutions of the republic.

  • Suetonius Julius Caesar 37-39: gifts and shows; 40-3 reforms; 44 buildings; 75 clemency

  • Plutarch Caesar 57-59

  • Appian Civil War 2.107-8

  • Marsh ch. 15

  • Scullard ch. 7.8-10

  • Wiedemann ch.12 and 13

  • Bradley 381-390: his honours and positions

  • Shotter ch. 8

Caesar’s death and its consequences: Octavian, Antony and Lepidus

Review the sources for his assassination:

  • why was he killed;

  • who were in favour and who against.

The events that followed to the triumvirate:

  • Antony’s success and failure

  • Octavian’s use of his name and the army.

  • the failure of the republicans: Philippi.

Students to read about the events and consider the issues.

  • Suetonius Julius Caesar 76-79: reasons for his death; 80 tyrant

  • Plutarch Caesar 57: tyranny/ 60-1: desire to be king; Antony 14, 16-17

  • Velleius 2.56-58: His death

  • Cicero’s Letters 124 (11.28): Matius’ defence of Caesar; 114 (ad Att.14.12) the assassination achieves nothing.

  • Appian Civil War 2. 114-119; 124-126: Antony’s actions

  • Appian 3.40/43 role of the army; 87-8 O’s consulship

  • Suetonius Augustus 10-13

  • Vellieus 2. 60-61: Octavian and Antony after the murder. Velleius. 2.62, 64: Antony and Octavian

  • Appian Civil Wars 4.2-3 : Antony and Octavian settle their differences; 5, 20: Proscriptions (Cicero) (Plut. Cicero 45)

  • Marsh ch.16; Scullard ch. 8. 1-3

  • Wiedemann ch. 14

  • Bradley pp. 390-93 (Caesar’s death); pp.394-404 (the triumvirate)

  • Shotter. ch.9


  • (concise history of the period from 44 BC)


The themes need to be highlighted:

  1. violence and the use of bribery/ manipulation of the people;

  2. the importance of military/provincial commands;

  3. the collapse of the legal constitutional elements;

The final act: Octavian’s success: money, arms and the man.

Outline the acts of the triumvirs

  • Octavian in the West: problems (famine, riots, etc) and solutions;

  • Antony in the East

  • Lepidus’ role and failure;

  • Brundisium and Misenum: Octavia

  • Tarentum

  • Sextus Pompeius;

  • Cleopatra’s contribution;

  • Actium

  • Students to produce a timeline of events for each of the triumvirs

  • Bradley pp. 405-410

  • Scullard ch. 8 4-6; Marsh ch.s 17 and 18

  • World of Rome: sections 74-78.

  • M. Goodman The Roman World 44 BC-Ad 180 ch. 4

  • Res Gestae 1-4 (Octavian’s view);

  • Appian Civil Wars 5. 8ff: Cleopatra; 24-5 Octavian’s problems; 59 Brundisium; 65 They divide the empire ; 72ff treaty; 93 Tarentum; 123ff Lepidus and Pompeius; 130-132 Honours to Octavian

  • Plut. Antony 26 Cleopatra; 54-5 Donations of Alexandria; 58 Antony’s delay a mistake

  • Velleius 2.84-7 Actium; 2.89 Octavian’s achievements

  • Suetonius Augustus : 17 war with Antony; 26-7 the triumvirate


  • Some use might be made of this period in film and theatre: BBC series Rome 1 and 2; the film Cleopatra; Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra or Julius Caesar

  • They can be used as further interpretation of events and issues for the students to examine and question

  • They might set them against the sources and consider how credible they are

The failure of institutions and the politicians: review and reflect on the issues.


  • The contributions of individuals in the events: do the sources exaggerate these and underplay other factors?

  • How far do the institutions contribute to the failure of the Republic?

  • How was power gained and maintained?

  • How important are political ideologies in the events?

  • What effect do social and economic demands have on events?

  • What effect do the wars have on social and economic conditions?

  • The sources: their aims and methods – how reliable, consistent, unbiased are they?

  • Use Sample exam material and selected source material to prompt debate and discussion

  • BBC article for a good overview and assessment plus links


  • P.A. Brunt book on line

  • for people, places and events

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