Department of Greek & Latin


CLAS0120 Ancient Rome on Film: From the 1950's to the 21st Century

Key information

Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Teaching department
Greek and Latin
Credit value

Alternative credit options

This module is offered in several versions which have different credit weightings (e.g. either 15 or 30 credits). Please see the links below for the alternative versions. To choose the right one for your programme of study, check your programme handbook or with your department.

  1. Ancient Rome on Film: From the 1950's to the 21st Century (CLAS0121)


Teaching Delivery: This module is taught in 10 weekly lectures. 

Content:  How did Hollywood cinema come to dominate representations of ancient Rome on screen and how has its dominance been challenged? How do ideas of the historical operate in and through such films? Why did the genre of the Hollywood blockbuster decline in the 1960s and re-emerge in the twenty-first century? How is cinema changed by the advent of television, video/DVD, and now the global digital environment? The module will utilise the critical vocabulary of reception studies and film analysis, and engage with issues such as tradition, commodification, technology, contemporaneity (including Cold War ideology, ‘the war on terror’, and nationalism), and recognition capital. Films on the syllabus include Ben Hur (1959 and 2016), Spartacus (1960); Fellini Satyricon (1969) and Gladiator (2000). 

SkillsBy the end of the module it is expected that students should have the knowledge and understanding to (1) identify and analyse cinema’s distinctive techniques for representing the Roman past; (2) appraise cinema’s techniques of historical analogy; (3) assess their role in the representation and construction of contemporary gender, sexuality, morality, and politics; (4) account for cinema’s transformation of ancient Rome into spectacle and commodity; (5) differentiate between different cinematic styles in their reconstruction and interpretation of Roman history.

Suggested preliminary reading: Theodorakopoulos, E., Ancient Rome at the Cinema: Story and Spectacle in Hollywood and Rome (Liverpool UP, 2010); Pomeroy, A., A Companion to Ancient Greece and Rome on Screen (Wiley, 2017); Hughes-Warrington, M. History Goes to the Movies (Routledge, 2007); Monaco, J. How to Read a Film: Movies, Media and Beyond, 4th edition (OUP, 2009).

Module deliveries for 2020/21 academic year

Intended teaching term: Term 2     Postgraduate (FHEQ Level 7)

Teaching and assessment

Mode of study
Methods of assessment
100% Coursework (4,000 words)
Mark scheme
Numeric Marks

Other information

Expected class size
Number of students on module in previous year
Module leader
Prof Maria Wyke
Who to contact for more information