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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

Adult courses

From Democracy to Authoritarianism: The Death of the Roman Republic

Week 4: July 30-August 5, 2017

The registration period for this program has passed.
Please contact us if you have any questions.

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In 63 BC, when Cicero was consul, a revolution to overthrow the Roman republic failed. The Romans managed to save the state only by means of bans, persecution of minorities, and torturing and executing Roman citizens without trial–in other words, they saved the state physically but lost it morally. In Catiline's War, Roman historian Sallust proposes that this period not only set the stage for the strong men who dominated the republic 20 years later, but was also responsible for the irreversible slide from republic to an authoritarian empire.

With the expert guidance of Michael Fontaine, associate professor of classics, we will read Sallust's history, examining the riveting chain of causes and events it lays out. In the course of the week, Michael will also invite two colleagues from the Department of Government to join us to talk about the United States' foreign and domestic policy. Then we can consider how Sallust's analysis of the death of the Roman republic does and does not resonate with the present. Come prepared to participate in lively discussion of this ancient and (perhaps) surprisingly timely story.

Michael Fontaine

Michael Fontaine is a professor in Cornell's Department of Classics and acting dean of the University Faculty. His scholarly specialization is Latin and Greek philology and the literature of the late Roman Republic. He regularly offers lively courses on Greek... > more


Once you've registered, we'll send you materials on the academic program and other information to help you prepare for CAU. A $50 per person, per class, non-refundable deposit is required with your registration. All deposits are applied to the full program charges. Register now!

Program charges

Below are the program fees and housing choices for the on-campus summer programs. Please contact us if you have questions.

For adults staying on campus, the program fee (per adult, per week) includes the course, lodging, fifteen all-you-care-to-eat meals, banquet dinner, coffee breaks, hospitality hours, evening lectures, walks and talks, welcome and farewell receptions, conference-lot parking fees, and use of most of Cornell’s campus facilities. Some courses have additional fees as noted. Wednesday dinner is on your own. Some campus facilities, such as the golf course, also charge specific user fees.

Standard room, on-campus housing, and meals

$1,970 double occupancy, $100 single supplement

Standard room, on-campus housing with exclusive bath, and meals

$2,030 double occupancy, $150 single supplement

Course fee for commuters and those staying at Hilton Homewood Suites

$1,285. This fee does not include housing or meals. If you wish to stay at Hilton Homewood Suites, please call 607.266.0000 to make a reservation in the CAU block.

Commuter meal plan option

$327. Most CAUers staying at Hilton Homewood Suites select our meal plan for the week in order to enjoy the full CAU experience. It includes six breakfasts, five lunches, and four dinners.