The Core 100 Program would like to thank Dr. Sarolta Takács, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, for once again launching this semester’s Core Lecture Series, as she did last Fall. This two-part lecture has been created for the Core 100 program, and will be a required assignment, but the Dean has graciously agreed to share her work with the College community. The PDFs that accompany the lectures are available to be sent electronically upon request to:

Title of the Lecture: Ancient Rome and the U.S. – Part 1
View Video One.

The speech of Senator Bennet (D-CO) on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 inspired this lecture. Overview of Roman history from the foundation in 753 BCE by Romulus down to the time of the Social War (91-87 BCE). Overview of the establishment of magistracies and how an ever-increasing empire brought not only wealth but also an ever-urgent need to address the ever widening gap of economic as well as social inequities.

Title of the Lecture: Ancient Rome and US – Part 2
View Video Two

The second part looks at the rise of dictators in the Late Republic as a result of the failure to address the need for social and economic reforms. In the end, the Roman Republic gave way to the power of one man, Augustus, who styled himself the restorer of the Republic as he dismantled it. For the historian Tacitus (~56-~120 CE), the most devastating aspect in this process was the loss of freedom of speech and the need to please the one in power.


• Charles, Michael Β. “Remembering and Restoring the Republic: ‘Star Wars’ and Rome.” The Classical World, vol. 108, no. 2, 2015, pp. 281–298,

• McCoy, Drew R. “An ‘Old-Fashioned’ Nationalism: Lincoln, Jefferson, and the Classical Tradition.” Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, vol. 23, no. 1, 2002, pp. 55– 67. JSTOR,

• Levine, Robert S. “Road to Africa: Frederick Douglass’s Rome.” African American Review, vol. 34, no. 2, 2000, pp. 217–231. JSTOR,

• Lessons in the Decline of Democracy
From the Ruined Roman Republic | History | Smithsonian Magazine

And for those who really want to delve into the subject matter:

Ricks, Thomas E., First Principles: What America’s Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country (Harper, 2020), a review of the book is online .


Dr. Sarolta Takács holds a BA in Classics from the University of California, Irvine, and an MA and PhD in History from the University of California, Los Angeles. As a graduate student, she was a recipient of the DAAD, a German Academic Exchange Service fellowship, that allowed her to do her PhD research at the University in Heidelberg and at the Free University in Berlin. While a professor at Harvard, she was a recipient of an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, sponsored by the Federal Republic of Germany, which allowed her to spend a research year at the University of Heidelberg.

Before coming to the College of Staten Island – CUNY, she taught at the University of Oregon, at the University of California, Los Angeles, Harvard University, and Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Dr. Takács held decanal positions at Harvard University, the Russell Sage College, and Rutgers University. At the latter institution, Dr. Takács served as the Director of the Modern Greek Studies Program and also was the Founding Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program.  

If you’re interested in the ancient Roman world, you can find some of her other lectures on YouTube and romanhistorytalks on Instagram.

By the Division of Academic Affairs