How do we know about the past? How reliable is the evidence we use to construct knowledge of history? How does your perspective affect your interpretation of the past? These are the questions we will be investigating in my class this summer. IB students, can you tell I’m a TOK teacher? :)
To attempt to answer these questions, we will be researching Agrippina the Younger, one of the most notorious women in Roman history. As a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, she was the sister of Caligula, wife of Claudius, and mother of Nero. Our primary sources tell us that she was intelligent, manipulative, murderous, and power-hungry. But how much of that can we believe? Did the historians portray her negatively because she challenged the gender roles of the time? Or are we in our postmodern society biased to view her as a strong woman in power? By reading selections of Tacitus and Suetonius in Latin and Cassius Dio in translation, you will construct your interpretation of who Agrippina was and the role she played in the events of the time.
If you have not studied the Julio-Claudians in school, I would recommend doing some reading about them before Academy begins. They are a very complicated and fascinating family! I will include a brief overview, but you may feel more comfortable if you come in with some base knowledge.
I look forward to meeting you in a few weeks!
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