University of Wisconsin–Madison


Professor Nandini Pandey (Classics 322, The Romans)


During the final week of classes, in place of your last section, you will deliver a 2-minute funeral oration for Ancient Rome. This will be a chance for you to look back at what you learned from the course and think of what made Rome special within world history and culture. Traditionally, Roman funeral orations were a chance to praise the dead person and explain her special significance and lasting accomplishments (while reflecting well on the living speaker, too). In this case, you will offer praise, judgment, and/or commentary on Rome, as if she is a person who has passed away (or has she?). You can speak directly to an imaginary personification of Rome, or to your instructors and fellow students. Have fun and be creative with this assignment, and let your personality and unique perspective shine through!

For inspiration, you might think back on:

• Your first oratio on ‘why ancient Rome matters (to you)’ – what have you learned since then? Has your opinion changed?

• The funerary inscriptions we read and Polybius’ account of Roman funerals

• Your own and your fellow students’ forum posts (on Canvas)

• The recent readings on Perpetua’s passion and Marcus Aurelius’ Stoic thought – does the ancient Roman experience give you a wider perspective on the modern world, or give you anything to meditate on as you live your life?

• anything we learned, read, or discussed in lecture or section that surprised you or spoke to you in some way

Your oratio must be between 90-150 seconds (i.e., 2 minutes plus or minus half a minute). We will grade you only on your spoken words, not on any written material, so make sure you have outlined or written out your speech, practiced your delivery, and timed yourself. You are welcome to use a script or notes as you prefer; gestures, costumes, and/or props are encouraged but not necessary. The assignment is worth 2.5% of your final grade, from the Attendance & Participation portion of the breakdown.

Extra credit worth up to 20% of the assignment grade will be awarded to those students who deliver their oratio live during the last lecture on Thursday, May 4. If you want extra credit, please volunteer early in the class period to ensure you have time to speak.

Everyone who does not speak during lecture on May 4 will be required to submit a video of their oration on Canvas by 5 pm on Friday, May 5. Under ‘Assignments,’ select ‘Oratio 3’ (you may have to scroll down to ‘Attendance and Participation’), and click on ‘submit assignment’ ( Then click on the ‘Media’ tab and select ‘record/upload media’ (this requires use of your laptop camera and microphone). You can record yourself directly using this function, or if you prefer to use your cellphone or another program, you can upload that file here instead. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to (re)record yourself until you are happy with your performance and to upload your submission. Submissions up to 24 hours late will be docked by 25%; after that, they receive an automatic zero. Please email your TA immediately and attach your video if you experience any trouble with Canvas. These will not be viewable by anyone besides your TA and instructor.

We will grade this oration, as in the past, on clarity, preparation, thoughtfulness, originality, and following the guidelines. As per the academic honesty section of your course syllabus, this speech must be your own work; any plagiarism (even unintentional) will result in an automatic F. So be sure to distinguish your work from other students’. An ‘A’ oration, by contrast, will show originality and show that you really understood and reflected on the course as a whole.

Thank you for a great semester and we look forward to hearing your farewell to Rome!