The Eternal City: Rome Through the Centuries July 15 - 20, 2018

With some 28 centuries of recorded history, Rome is one of Europe's oldest continuously inhabited cities. But what makes Rome venerable is not so much its age but what the Eternal City has witnessed through the centuries. The seat of the Roman Kingdom, Republic, and Empire, Rome was for centuries the unrivaled center of the ancient world. Politically, economically, culturally, all roads led to Rome.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Rome, through its late embrace of Christianity under the emperor Constantine, became the seat of the Papacy. In the early Middle Ages, Charlemagne rescued the city from decline by accepting the crown of Holy Roman Emperor from Pope Leo III in the year 800. Centuries later, under Popes Julius II, Leo X, and Clement VII, Rome underwent a major transformation. As the acknowledged capital city of the Italian Renaissance, Rome attracted such major artists as Michelangelo, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Raphael, and Bramante. It was Rome's Golden Age.

The wealth of the Papacy inspired ambitious building projects, including St. Peter's Basilica, but also invited envy and eventually contempt. Wars in Europe under Charles V eventually led to the first sacking of the city since the Normans. The Protestant Reformation challenged papal dominance, which in turn led to the Counter-Reformation, restoring the wealth and central authority of papal rule. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Rome underwent another period of major redesign and construction, which gave the city much of its baroque character. The wars of the 19th and 20th centuries left their mark, and yet Rome survived, its spirit intact, aided by the post-war Italian economic miracle, which restored and modernized the city. Today, with its commercial vitality and thriving tourism, the city remains Europe's most popular destination.

Tracing Rome through the centuries are three of W&L's most popular faculty members: George Bent, the Sidney Gause Childress Professor of Art; Caleb Dance, assistant professor of classics; and Mikki Brock, assistant professor of history. Together, they will illustrate Rome's remarkable story, from its origins along the Tiber through the glory of the Roman Empire, from its colorful papal history through its baroque efflorescence, from the reunification of Italy to its modern reincarnation. This Alumni College will also anticipate a W&L Traveller program in Rome in 2019.