Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Susan O. Shapiro


Susan O. Shapiro


Danielle Ross


Alvaro Ibarra


In an article published in 2009, Robert Rosenstone expressed disappointment in two films he played a role in developing the Reds (1981) and the The Good Fight (1984). He expressed regret the films did not reach his expectations as a historian. As a result, he wondered whether there was a point in historians being involved in the making of historical films.

This thesis focused on six historical films set in ancient Greece and Rome. The six films are Alexander the Great (1956), The 300 Spartans (1962), and 300 (2006) for Greek history; and The Last Days of Pompeii (1935), The Last Days of Pompeii (1959), and The Eagle (2011) for Roman history. In this thesis, these films were examined through the lenses of various topics. Two major questions were considered. The first question was historical: how accurately did these films portray the various aspects of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations that were depicted in them? And the second question was historiographical: what did the historical accuracies (and inaccuracies) of these films say about how filmmakers present historical events to the public?

Throughout this process, this thesis attempted to answer Rosenstone’s question. In the end, his question was answered with a yes. It is worthwhile for historians to be involved with historical films because it furthers the process of educating others about history.



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