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People's University: Ancient History: FINALE: Rome and Pompeii

March 09, 2023
7:00pm - 8:00pm

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FINALE: Rome and Pompeii

Instructor: DR. LAURA MICHELE DIENER, Marshall University   

By the time of Julius Caesar was murdered during the Ides of March, the Romans had been living through almost a century of civil wars marked by massacres, betrayal, and upheaval. During the first century BC, the Republic had begun to break down under the pressures of expansion and ambition. In this class, we will cover the cataclysmic end of the Republic and the formation of imperial rule under Emperor Augustus and his successors. Despite its blood-soaked beginnings, the Empire ushered in a golden age of Roman peace and prosperity known as the Pax Romana.

Before Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, Pompeii was a thriving, dynamic, and international city whose story intertwined with the key events of Roman history. In this course, we will consider the complex past of Pompeii before and after its cataclysmic destruction. Using unique archeological sources from graffiti to sewage, we will explore the very real people who lived, loved, and died in the most well-preserved of ancient cities.

DR. LAURA MICHELE DIENER has taught ancient and medieval history at Marshall University since 2008, where she has won several awards for teaching. She received her PhD in history from The Ohio State University and has studied at Vassar College, Newnham College, Cambridge, and most recently, Vermont College of Fine Arts. She enjoys teaching classes on fascinating peoples of the past, including Vikings, Romans, Ancient Egyptians, and Celts. She runs the History Club at Marshall and enjoys organizing the yearly Viking Feast and Yuletide Celebration. If you google her, you will find some of her creative essays online. She has written about medieval spirituality, medieval embroidery, and medieval hair. She is currently writing a biography of the Norwegian Nobel-prize-winning writer, Sigrid Undset titled A World Perilous and Beautiful

Recommended Reading:

Aegean Bronze Age Art: Meaning in the Making by Karl Knappett

Antony and Cleopatra by Adrian Goldsworthy 

Creators, Conquerors, and Citizens by Robin Waterfield

A History of Ancient Greece in 50 Lives by David Stuttard

The Odyssey by Homer, Emily Wilson's Translation

Phillip and Alexander: Kings and Conquerors by Adrian Goldsworthy 

Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt by Barbara Mertz

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard

When Women Ruled the World by Kara Cooney


Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Circe by Madeline Miller

Mythos by Stephen Fry

Note: The OCPL is in the process of acquiring as many of the above titles as possible.



People's University: Ancient History

Class 1-Jan. 5, 2023 at 7 pm: Egypt Part 1 - Gods and Pyramids - Instructor: DR. LAURA MICHELE DIENER, Marshall University 

Class 2-Jan. 12, 2023 at 7 pm: Egypt Part 2 - The Pharaohs-Instructor: DR. LAURA MICHELE DIENER, Marshall University  

Class 3-Jan. 19, 2023 at 7 pm: Greece Part 1 - Minoan, Mycenean, and Homeric - Instructor: DR. MARIE N. PAREJA CUMMINGS, Marshall University 

Class 4-Jan. 26, 2023 at 7 pm: Greece Part 2-Archaic and Classical   - Instructor: DR. MARIE N. PAREJA CUMMINGS, Marshall University 

Class 5-Feb. 2, 2023 at 7 pm: Greece Part 3 - Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Egypt  -Instructor: DR. LAURA MICHELE DIENER, Marshall University  

Class 6-Feb. 9, 2023 at 7 pm: Rome Part 1-The Period of the Kings through the Republic - Instructor: DR. LAURA MICHELE DIENER, Marshall University 

Class 7-Feb. 16, 2023 at 7 pm: Rome Part 2-Early Empire - Instructor: DR. LAURA MICHELE DIENER, Marshall University   

Class 8- Feb. 23, 2023 at 7 pm: THE TRAGEDY OF POMPEII  -  Instructor: DR. LAURA MICHELE DIENER, Marshall University  

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Thursdays from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm on YouTube Live and Facebook Live

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In 1951, the Ohio County Public Library's librarian, Virginia Ebeling, referenced British historian Thomas Carlyle, who said, “the public library is a People’s University,” when she initiated a new adult education program with that name. Miss Ebeling charged the library with the responsibility of reaching “as many people in the community as possible.” In keeping with that tradition of public libraries as sanctuaries of free learning for all people, the Ohio County Public Library revived the series in 2010.

The People’s University features courses (taught by experts in each subject) that enable patrons to pursue their goal of lifelong learning in classic subjects such as history, music appreciation, philosophy, and literature. Patrons may attend as many classes as they wish. There are no tests of other requirements and all programs are free and open to the public. For more information about PU: The Cold War, EMAIL US,  visit, or call the library at 304-232-0244.

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