Courses

The course offerings in Classics enable students to explore the ancient Greek, Roman and Graeco-Roman worlds from various perspectives: literature, history, art, archaeology, philosophy, religion, theatre and political science, as well as comparative literature, gender and sexuality, leadership, and modes of cultural interaction.

Courses are of two general types: language (Greek, CLGR, or Latin, CLLA) and translation (Classical Civilization, CLAS).

The 100-level language courses are intensive introductions to Greek and Latin grammar. The 200-level language courses combine comprehensive grammar review with readings from Greek or Latin texts (poetry and prose) of pivotal historical periods. Latin 302 and the 400-level language seminars explore in depth selected authors or topics and the methods of analysis appropriate to each of them. The numbering of courses through the 300 level reflects the prerequisites involved. The only prerequisite for any 400-level course is Greek 201 or Latin 302, or equivalent language preparation. The rotation of 400-level courses is arranged to permit exposure, in a three- to four-year period, to most of the important periods and genres of classical studies. Students may enter the rotation at any point.

Classical Civilization courses, in which texts are read in translation, provide both surveys and opportunities for more specialized study of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, including other cultures of the Graeco-Roman Mediterranean. The numbering of these courses often suggests a recommended but rarely necessary sequence of study within a given area of classical studies. Most of these courses do not assume prior experience in Classics or a cross-related field.

Classical Civilization or Classics

CLAS 101 (S)The Trojan War

Not offered this year

The Trojan War may or may not have taken place near the end of the Bronze Age (c1100), but it certainly provided poets, visual artists, historians, philosophers, and many others in archaic and classical Greece (750-320) with a rich discourse for engaging questions about gender, exchange, desire, loss, and remembrance, and about friendship, marriage, family, army, city-state and religious cult. This discourse of "The Trojan War" attained a remarkable coherence yet also thrived on substantial variations and changes over the 300-400 years of Greek literature we will explore, a dynamic of change and continuity that has persisted through the more than two millenia of subsequent Greek, Roman, Western, and non-Western participation in this discourse. More than half of the course will be devoted to the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey; we will also read brief selections from lyric poetry (e.g. Archilochus, Sappho of Lesbos), some selections from the historians Herodotus and Thucydides, and several tragedies (e.g. Aeschylus' Oresteia, Sophocles' Ajax, Euripides' Trojan Women). We may briefly consider a few short selections from other ancient Greek and Roman authors and/or one or two modern poets. We will also watch several films, e.g. Troy, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?Gods and Monsters, Fight Club, In the Bedroom,, Grand Illusion. [ more ]

CLAS 102 (F)Roman Literature: Foundations and Empire

In the first book of Vergil's Aeneid, the god Jupiter prophesies the foundation and the greatness of Rome: "I place no limits on their fortunes and no time; I grant them empire without end." Yet elsewhere in this epic account of Rome's origins, this promise of unlimited power for the descendants of Romulus seems to be seriously abridged. Some readers have seen, not only in the Aeneid but throughout classical Roman literature, a persistent tendency to inscribe the decay and disintegration of Roman power into the very works that proclaim and celebrate Roman preeminence. This course explores the ancient Romans' own interpretations of their past, their present, and their destiny: the humble beginnings of their city, its rise to supreme world power, and premonitions of its decline. Related topics for our consideration will include Roman constructions of gender, the location and expression of virtue in public and private spheres, the connections and conflicts between moral probity and political success, the exercise of individual power versus action on behalf of the commonwealth, the absorption of foreign customs and peoples into Rome, the management of literal and imaginary frontiers, and other anxieties of empire. We will read selections and complete works by a wide variety of Roman authors, including Cicero, Catullus, Caesar, Vergil, Sallust, Horace, Ovid, Seneca, and Tacitus. All readings will be in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 200 (F)History of the Book

From ancient clay tablets, bamboo strips, and papyrus rolls to modern hardbacks, paperbacks, and e-readers, no object has so broadly and deeply represented the capacity for humans to create, preserve, and transmit knowledge, information, and ideas as the book. Books have been worshiped and condemned, circulated and censored, collected and destroyed. From works of art to ephemeral trash, they have been public and private, sacred and profane, magical and commonplace. Likewise, notions of the book have influenced every subsequent form of communication and transmission, whether we are browsing film and song "libraries" or "scrolling" down "pages" on the web. This course will explore aspects of the material, social, cultural, and intellectual history of the book, from the invention of the earliest writing systems through the modern development of digital media. Our inquiry will span the globe and the millennia, but we will pay special attention to the ancient and medieval Chinese, Greek, and Latin traditions and their enduring influence in the modern world. Topics will include orality and literacy, manuscript production, the invention and spread of printing, typography, reading culture, notions of authorship, libraries and collections, censorship, and the digital book. Through a variety of readings, hands-on exercises, and interactions with our abundant library resources, we will investigate how the changing form and function of the book interact across its long and diverse history. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 203 (F)History of Ancient Greek Philosophy

Very few people believe that everything is water, that we knew everything before birth, that philosophers ought to rule the state, or that some people are natural slaves. Why then should we spend our time studying people who in addition to having these surprising beliefs have been dead for 2500 years? First of all, Greek thinkers, especially Plato and Aristotle, radically shaped the trajectory of western thought in every area of philosophy. No one can have an adequate understanding of western intellectual history without some familiarity with the Greeks, and we might think that an understanding of our intellectual history can deepen our understanding of our own situation. More importantly, many of the thinkers that we will read in this class are simply excellent philosophers, and it is worthwhile for anyone interested in philosophical problems to read treatments of these problems by excellent philosophers. We will begin the course by looking briefly at some of the Presocratic philosophers active in the Mediterranean world of the seventh through fifth centuries BCE, and some of the sophists active in the fifth century. We will then turn to several of Plato's dialogues, examining Plato's portrayal of Socrates and his development of a new and profoundly powerful philosophical conception. We will then read some of Aristotle's works on metaphysics, epistemology and ethics, considering some of the ways Aristotle's thought responds to that of predecessors. [ more ]

CLAS 205 (S)Ancient Wisdom Literature

Not offered this year

The Biblical books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job are often grouped together under the Hebrew category of hokhmah, 'wisdom.' Although these books are very different in content, they can all be interpreted as meditations on ethical and practical philosophy. In this way, they represent the Hebrew Bible's canonical embrace of a widespread Near Eastern literary phenomenon. From the instructional literature of Egypt and Mesopotamia to Greek didactic poetry and fables, ancient Mediterranean cultures offer a wide range of texts that engage the issues of personal behavior, leadership, and justice. Starting with the central wisdom books of the Hebrew Bible and moving through relevant material from the Apocrypha, New Testament, and the Egyptian and Babylonian traditions, this course will examine the literature of wisdom throughout the ancient world with an eye toward understanding its various social, political, and philosophical contexts. We will then consider the Greek wisdom tradition in such texts as Hesiod's Works and Days, Aesop's fables, and fragments from the pre-Socratic philosophers. Finally, we will explore the influence of these ancient sources on later expressions of wisdom in medieval European literature, as well as more recent examples such as Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 207 (F)From Adam to Noah: Literary Imagination and the Primeval History in Genesis

How long did Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden? What was the mark of Cain? Why did Enoch not die? Who was Noah's wife? How did Giants survive the Flood? These are only a few of the fascinating questions that ancient readers and interpreters of the Book of Genesis asked and attempted to answer. The first ten chapters of Genesis present a tantalizingly brief narrative account of the earliest history of humankind. The text moves swiftly from the Creation to the Flood and its immediate aftermath, but this masterful economy of style leaves many details unexplained. This course will explore the rich and varied literary traditions associated with the primeval history in the Genesis. Through a close reading of ancient noncanonical sources such as the Book of Enoch, Jubilees, and the Life of Adam and Eve, as well as Jewish traditions represented in Josephus, Philo, and Rabbinic literature and other accounts presented in early Christian and Gnostic texts, we will investigate the ways in which the elliptical style of Genesis generated a massive body of ancient folklore, creative exegesis, and explicit literary re-imagining of the early history of humankind. We will then turn to several continuations of these variant traditions in medieval and early modern literature, with particular attention to the extensive material on the figures of Cain and Noah. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 208 (S)Ancient Greek Religion

This course explores the nature and evolution of ancient Greek religion from the Bronze Age (1200s BCE) to the rise of Christianity, with a focus on ritual and cultic practices in their cultural and historical context. We will draw on the rich evidence provided by literary and documentary texts, and also take into account archaeological evidence, including works of art such as sculpture and vase painting. We will pay special attention to ritual in civic and political life, and its role in expressing and forming individual and group identity. We will also examine the intersection of religion and literature by reading works that describe or depict cultic practice, or that were composed for performance in ritual contexts. Readings include Homer's Iliad, Hesiod's Theogony, Euripides' Bacchae, Aristophanes' Women at the Thesmophoria, and selections from the Homeric Hymns and Pindar's Odes. [ more ]

CLAS 210 (F)The New Testament: Purpose, History and Method

The New Testament is the most important collection of documents in the Christian religion. This course offers overviews and discussions of the origin and purpose of the writings, their influence throughout history, and the development of methods of readings of the texts. We start with the origin of the writings before they became collected into the New Testament, and ask: what forms of writings (genres) in Greco-Roman culture were available to the authors of the new scriptures, and how they were used for the purpose of shaping faith in Jesus Christ and creating communities? Why just these scriptures were included, and not others, for instance, the Gospel of Thomas, is another much discussed question. The impact of the New Testament writings upon society is a problematic history; for instance, they have been used to support negative attitudes to Jews, women and homosexuals. This raises the issue of how to read the New Testament. There are many different ways of reading the New Testament; perhaps the most common way to read it is as Scripture, important for one's religious faith. In this course, however, we will focus on scholarly and academic readings of the New Testament. But they, too, have gone through many changes, influenced by contemporary methods, e.g. historical-critical ones in the 19th and into 20th century, more recently, by literary, feminist and post-colonial readings. Through extensive readings of New Testament writings in their cultural and historical context, documentations of their use in history, and recent theories of interpretation, the aim is to gain an independent position on the New Testament as a historical and religious document. [ more ]

Taught by: Halvor Moxnes

Catalog details

CLAS 213 (F)Greek Art and Myth

Not offered this year

Classical myth provides rich subject matter for painters and sculptors throughout the history of western art. This course investigates the earliest representation of myth in Greek art of the seventh through the first centuries B.C.E. Sophisticated narratives involving gods and heroes first appear in a variety forms and contexts. Myth informs the visual culture of the Greeks on many levels, from paintings on vases used in domestic contexts to the marble sculpture that decorated the monumental temples of great sanctuaries throughout the Greek world. The purpose of the course is two-fold: to familiarize students with the subjects and narratives of Greek myths and the underlying belief system that, in part, produced them, and also provide a comprehensive outline of developments in Greek art in the first millenium B.C.E. Of special interest will be the techniques developed by artists for representing narratives visually, as well as the conceptual issues that underlie certain myths, such as sacrifice, war, marriage, coming of age, specific festivals, and the relationships between men and women, and those between mortals and immortals. Reading will include ancient literature in translation (Hesiod, Homer, Sappho, Aischylos, Sophokles, Euripides and Apollodorus) as well as secondary literature by contemporary authors that provides insights into the religious, social and historical developments that influenced artists in their choices of subject matter and style. [ more ]

CLAS 216 (S)Body of Evidence: Greek Sculpture and the Human Figure

Not offered this year

From the beginnings of Greek sculpture in the eighth century B.C.E. until the end of the Hellenistic period in the first century B.C.E., the human figure remained the most prominent choice of subject for Greek artists. Introductory classes will cover sculpture in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages but the goal of this course is to study Greek sculpture in the first millennium B.C.E. with emphasis on ancient Greek attitudes toward the body. We will consider the function, surroundings and reception of male and female figures, both human and divine, from athletic, religious and funerary contexts, and look at dedications of individual figures as well as the complex mythological narratives found on Greek temples. Reading material includes ancient literature in translation as well as contemporary critical essays. [ more ]

CLAS 218 (S)Gnosis, Gnostics, Gnosticism

Not offered this year

What is gnosis and Gnosticism? Who were the Gnostics? Salvation by knowledge, arch-heresy, an eternal source of mystical insights and experiences, secret esoteric teachings available only to a few. All these and more have been claims made about gnosis, Gnostics, and Gnosticism. This course will introduce you to the key ancient texts and ideas associated with Gnostics as well as to the debates over and claims made about Gnosticism in modern times. We shall explore neoplatonic, Jewish, and Christian thought, as well as modern spiritualism and esotericism. We shall also ask about how ancient Gnostics relate to later religious groups such as the Knights Templar and modern Theosophists. Readings include: Nag Hammadi writings in English, Irenaeus, Against All Heresies; David Brakke, The Gnostics; Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels; Karen King, What is Gnosticism? and The Secret Revelation of John. [ more ]

CLAS 222 (S)Greek History

Not offered this year

Ancient Greece has been thought to embody the origins of Western civilization in its institutions, values, and thought; it has been seen as the infancy of modern society, with the attributes of innocence, purity, and the infant's staggering capacity for exploration and learning; it has been interpreted as an essentially primitive, violent culture with a thin veneer of rationality; and it has been celebrated as the rational culture par excellence. The study of ancient Greece indeed requires an interpretive framework, yet Greek culture and history have defied most attempts to articulate one. We will make our attempt in this course by investigating ancient Greece as a set of cultures surprisingly foreign to us, as it so often was to its own intellectual elite. But we will also come to appreciate the rich and very real connections between ancient Greek and modern Western civilization. The course will begin with Bronze Age-Greece and the earliest developments in Greek culture, and will conclude with the spread of Greek influence into Asia through the conquests of Alexander the Great. We will explore topics such as the aristocratic heritage of the city-state, the effects of pervasive war on Greek society, the competitive spirit in political and religious life, the confrontations with the East, the relationship of intellectual culture to Greek culture as a whole, Greek dependence on slavery, and the diversity of political and social forms in the Greek world. The readings will concentrate on original sources, including historical writings, philosophy, poetry, and oratory. [ more ]

CLAS 223 (S)Roman History

The study of Roman history involves questions central to the development of Western institutions, religion, and modes of thought. Scholars have looked to Rome both for actual antecedents of European cultural development and for paradigmatic scenes illustrating what they felt were cultural universals. Yet Roman history also encompasses the most far-reaching experience of diverse cultures, beliefs, and practices known in the Western tradition until perhaps contemporary times. A close analysis of Roman history on its own terms shows the complex and fascinating results of an ambitious, self-confident nation's encounter both with unexpected events and crises at home, and with other peoples. As this course addresses the history of Rome from its mythologized beginnings through the reign of the emperor Constantine, it will place special emphasis on the impressive Roman ability to turn the unexpected into a rich source of cultural development, as well as the complex tendency later to interpret such ad hoc responses as predestined and inevitable. The Romans also provide a vivid portrait of the relationship between power and self-confidence on the one hand, and violence and ultimate disregard for dissent and difference on the other. Readings for this course will concentrate on a wide variety of original sources, and there will be a strong emphasis on the problems of historical interpretation. [ more ]

CLAS 224 (F)Roman Archaeology and Material Culture

Not offered this year

This course examines the development of Roman archaeology and material culture from the early Iron Age, ca. 1000 BCE, to the end of the reign of Constantine in 337 CE. The primary goal of the course is to help students understand the social and historical context in which Roman material culture was created and used. We will consider a variety of evidence from across the empire, including monumental and domestic architecture, wall painting, mosaics, sculpture, coins and inscriptions. Special emphasis will be placed on the city of Rome; however, we will also look at other important urban centers, such as Pompeii, Aphrodisias and Lepcis Magna. Roman art and architecture were not the product of any single people or culture, but rather the hybrid synthesis of complex cultural negotiations between the Romans and their colonial subjects (i.e., Greeks, Jews, Celts, etc.). Class discussions will focus on issues related to gender, ethnicity and cultural identity in the Roman Empire. For example, we will explore what it meant to be "Roman" in terms of language, ethnicity and cultural institutions. We will also discuss how Roman elites used material culture to convey political messages and social status in the imperial hierarchy, as well as the legacy of Roman art and architecture in the modern world. [ more ]

CLAS 226 T (S)The Ancient Novel

Not offered this year

In this course we read and closely analyze long works of fiction composed in the ancient Mediterranean between the first century BCE and the fourth century CE. To call these ancient works "novels" might be misleading, if our definition depended on the historical conditions that fostered the emergence of the modern novel (e.g., industrialization and widespread literacy). On another definition, however, the novel is that genre which, more than any other, devours and incorporates other genres. Judged by this standard, the works we will deal with in this course are quintessentially novels. They afford new perspectives on the diverse, cosmopolitan culture of the Hellenistic and late antique Mediterranean world in which they were originally written and read. Replete with spectacular tales of true love, death, danger, miracles, stunts, conversions, triumphant recognitions and happily-ever-after reconciliations, they access other classical genres such as history, tragedy, and epic by means of parody, allusion, and homage. [ more ]

CLAS 241 T (S)Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece and Rome

In the ancient Mediterranean world, sexuality and gender shaped a broad range of attitudes and actions. These categories created and reinforced difference in virtually every aspect of life, from the household to the political arena. This course examines the diverse discourses and practices around sexuality and gender in the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, while also dismantling false assumptions about the continuity of the "classical" past with our own contemporary norms and values. We will carefully analyze, contextualize, and compare a variety of texts, including selections from tragedy and comedy (Euripides, Terence), epic (Homer, Ovid) and lyric poetry (Sappho, Catullus), novels, epitaphs, and early saints' lives, in order to gain a deeper and more complex understanding of how gender and sexuality were expressed, experienced, and regulated in Greece and Rome. Our emphasis will be on ancient texts, but selections from contemporary criticism and theory will enrich the methodological framework through which we approach those primary sources. The course fulfills the EDI requirement by providing sufficient context for students to make independent investigations of how literary and religious texts and practices engaged with political and social institutions to maintain different life courses and different systems of reckoning for the value of men's lives, women's lives, and the lives of individuals who didn't fit easily into either category. Additionally, the course will promote students' capacity to critically evaluate two past cultures that have long been important sources for intellectual and cultural traditions in the West, and which are still invoked today, sometimes misleadingly, to explain or justify positions and practices of privilege or oppression. [ more ]

CLAS 248 (S)Greek Art and the Gods

In the Iliad, when the god Apollo is visualized, it is as a man, angry in his heart, coming down from the peaks of Olympos, bow and quiver on his shoulders, the arrows clanging as the god moves, "like the coming of night," to bring dogs, horses, and men to their deaths. By the end of the Classical period, one statue of the archer god depicted him as a boy teasing a lizard. In this course, we will examine the development of the images the Greek gods and goddesses, from their superhuman engagement in the heroic world of epic, to their sometimes sublime artistic presence, complex religious function, and transformation into metaphors in aesthetic and philosophical thought. The course will cover the basic stylistic, iconographical, narrative, and ritual aspects of the gods and goddesses in ancient Greek culture. The course will address in detail influential artistic monuments, literary forms, and social phenomena, including the sculptures of Olympia and the Parthenon; divine corporeality in poetry; the theology of mortal-immortal relations; the cultural functions of visual representations of gods, and the continued interest in the gods long after the end of antiquity. Readings assignments will include selections from Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, Aischylos, Euripides, Plato, Walter Burkert, Jean-Pierre Vernant, Nikolaus Himmelmann, Erika Simon, and Friedrich Nietzsche. [ more ]

CLAS 258 (F)Divine Kingship in the Ancient Mediterranean

What is the relationship between politics and religion? How do kings legitimate their rule? Why did the ancient Greeks and Romans worship their emperors as gods? This course examines the origins and development of divine kingship in the ancient Mediterranean from its earliest beginnings in Pharaonic Egypt to the reign of the Christian Roman Emperors in the fourth century CE. We will address the various symbolic strategies employed by ancient kings to project their own divinity. These include portraiture, panegyric poetry, ritual processions, royal autobiography and monumental architecture, e.g., the Great Pyramids in Egypt and the Pantheon in Rome. We will also study the reception of royal art and ideology among the king's subjects. Special attention will be paid to the role of the Roman emperor-cult in shaping social, political and religious identity in the Roman Empire. [ more ]

CLAS 262 (S)Performing Greece and Rome

Not offered this year

This course explores the fluidity of genres by focusing on tragedy and comedy. Each began as a grafted thing, a hybrid, a fusion of poetic, musical and dance genres previously developed for a variety of occasions outside the Theater of Dionysus. Fusion continued to energize both genres, and we will attend to its effects as we read several tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides and comedies by Aristophanes from fifth-century Athens; a comedy by Menander from the early post-Alexandrian Greek world; comedies by Plautus and Terence from republican Rome; and a tragedy by Seneca from the imperial Rome of Nero. We will also read short selections from (or read about) the genres out of which tragedy and comedy were created and re-created, and into which they sometimes made their own incursions (e.g., heroic epic, women's laments, choral and solo lyric poetry, wisdom poetry, oratory, philosophical texts, histories, mime, farce, various kinds of dance, music and visual arts). We will especially attend to the ways tragedy and comedy inflected one another. Critical readings, along with modern productions of ancient tragedies and comedies, will guide us as we consider all these generic exchanges in light of changing conditions and occasions of theatrical performance, other public spectacles shaping the expectations of theater audiences, and the development of writing and reading as modes of performance. [ more ]

CLAS 283 (S)The Great Library of Alexandria: Collecting and Connoisseurship in the Ancient World

During the early third century BCE, the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt built the Great Library of Alexandria to serve as a repository for all human knowledge. Such an audacious project of collection has rarely been attempted either before or since. At its height, the Great Library was reputed to house over 700,000 books from across the Greek world, as well as many translations of texts originally written in Latin, Hebrew, Egyptian, and even Sanskrit. Attracted by the vast stores of knowledge, scholars, artists, and poets flocked to the Great Library to create one of the most vibrant intellectual communities the world has ever known. In this course, we will examine the development and influence of the Great Library and its sister institution, the Mouseion (or "Museum") from a variety of cultural and historical perspectives. We will begin by exploring the political motives of the Ptolemaic kings and their reception of earlier traditions of collecting in the Greek and Near Eastern worlds. We will then turn to the intellectual and artistic activity at the Library itself, with special attention to the development of notions of connoisseurship and canon across various disciplines. Although implicated in the Ptolemies' political agenda, the scholars living and working in the Great Library were granted extraordinary freedom to pursue new ideas that transformed literature, science, and the arts forever. Readings will include selections from Theocritus' Idylls, Apollonius' Argonautica and Eratothenes' Geography. Finally, we will examine the legacy of the Great Library from the Roman empire to the present day, focusing particularly on how the concept of a universal archive has shaped the collecting practices of everything from modern art museums and Google Books to such governmental entities as the NSA. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 289 T (S)Socrates

Not offered this year

Socrates was executed in 399 BCE on the charges of impiety and corruption of the youth of Athens. Apparently he corrupted the youth by engaging with them in philosophy. In this class, we will attempt to carry on the noble tradition of corruption by philosophy. We will read works by three of Socrates' contemporaries: Aristophanes, Xenophon, and especially Plato. Through an examination of these works, we will try to get some feeling for what Socrates' controversial positions and his arguments for these positions may have been. While he never wrote any philosophical works of his own, Socrates is one of the most influential thinkers in the western tradition. His thought influenced the thought of subsequent generations of philosophers. In fact, Socrates seems to have been thought of as a kind of intellectual saint in the Hellenistic world. The stoics and skeptics both claimed a Socratic imprimatur for their own thought. Stoicism and skepticism, however, are wildly divergent schools of thought. How could proponents of each be claiming to follow in the footsteps of Socrates? We will read some representative works from each of these schools of thought to see how each approaches Socrates. If time permits, we may also look at how the figure of Socrates has been thought about in the works of more modern thinkers. [ more ]

CLAS 306 (F)The Good Life in Greek and Roman Ethics

Most thoughtful human beings spend a good deal of time musing about how we ought to live and about what counts as a good life for a human being. The philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome were among the first thinkers to develop rigorous arguments in response to such musings. Much of the moral philosophy produced in Greece and Rome remains as relevant today as when it was written. In this course, we will examine some central texts in ancient Greek and Roman moral philosophy. We will begin by reading some of Plato's early dialogues and his Republic. We will then turn to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. We will then examine writings in the Stoic and Epicurean traditions, as well as Cicero's On the Ends of Good and Evil. As we proceed through the course, we will look at the way in which each thinker characterizes happiness, virtue and the relation between the two. We will also pay close attention to the way in which each of these thinkers takes the practice of philosophy to play a key role in our realization of the good human life. This course is part of the Williams College program at the Berkshire County Jail and House of Corrections and will be held at the jail. Transportation will be provided by the college. The class will be composed equally of Williams students and inmates, and one goal of the course will be to encourage students from different backgrounds to think together about issues of common human concern. [ more ]

CLAS 320 T (F)Enchantment and the Origins of Poetry

Not offered this year

Since the earliest period of Greek literature, poems have been intimately bound up in the notion of enchantment, or thelxis. The power of song to alter the mental and physical states of the audience and the world at large is intertwined with the wide variety of uses to which ancient magic was applied. Similarly, the idea of divine or supernatural inspiration can be interpreted as a reflexive enchantment that binds the poet to the transformative power of language. This tutorial course will explore the fundamental ways in which ancient Greek and Roman poetry, and its later offspring, are configured and understood as a kind of enchantment or incantation. By examining works that explicitly depict acts of enchantment as well as those that represent themselves as spells, dreams, charms, and curses, we will attempt to understand the structural and semantic relationships between song and magic across several genres. We will also consider the role of inspiration, enthusiasm, memory, truth, and falsehood in shaping both the poems themselves and discourses about poetry. Finally, we will investigate the reception and elaboration of these concepts in later European poetic traditions from the middle ages through modernity. Readings may include selections from Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, Pindar, Aeschylus, Euripides, Plato's Ion and Phaedrus, Theocritus, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Roman love elegy, Old English charms, Old Norse poetry, Marlowe's Dr. Faustus, Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, Coleridge, Shelley, Mallarme, Valery, T.S. Eliot, and various other poets and critics. All works will be read in English translation, but students who have studied ancient Greek will be expected to read significant portions of the early material in the original. [ more ]

CLAS 323 (S)Leadership, Government, and the Governed in Ancient Greece

Not offered this year

Visionary, opportunist, reformer, tyrant, demagogue, popular champion: concise characterization of influential leaders is often irresistible. But placing leaders in their much less easily encapsulated political, social, and religious contexts reveals them to be far more complicated and challenging subjects. Among the questions that will guide our study of Greek leadership: Was the transformative leader in a Greek city always an unexpected one, arising outside of the prevailing political and/or social systems? To what extent did the prevailing systems determine the nature of transformative as well as of normative leadership? How did various political and social norms contribute to legitimating particular kinds of leader? After studying such leaders as the "tyrants" who prevailed in many Greek cities of both the archaic and classical eras, then Athenian leaders like Solon, Cleisthenes, Cimon, Pericles, Cleon, and Demosthenes, and Spartans like Cleomenes, Leonidas, Brasidas, and Lysander, we will focus on Alexander the Great, whose unique accomplishments transformed every aspect of Greek belief about leadership, national boundaries, effective government, the role of the governed, and the legitimacy of power. Readings will include accounts of leadership and government by ancient Greek authors (e.g. Homer, Solon, Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, all in translation) and contemporary historians and political theorists. [ more ]

CLAS 330 (F)Plato

Not offered this year

Plato is one of the most important and influential thinkers in the history of the western tradition. His depiction of the trial and death of Socrates is one of the classics of western literature, and his views on ethics and politics continue to occupy a central place in our discussions 2400 years after they were written. It is, in fact, quite difficult to get through any course of study in the liberal arts without some familiarity with Plato. Nevertheless, comparatively few people realize that the views we commonly think of as "Platonic" represent only one strand in Plato's thought. For example, we commonly attribute to Plato a theory of the Forms on the basis of his claims in the so-called "middle dialogues" (mainly Republic, Phaedo, and Symposium). However, in his philosophically more sophisticated and notoriously difficult later dialogues (such as the Parmenides, Philebus, Sophist and Statesman), Plato engages in radical criticism and revision of his earlier views. In this course, we will spend the first third of the semester attempting to understand the metaphysics and epistemology in Plato's middle dialogues. We will spend the balance of the semester coming to grips with Plato's arguments in the later dialogues. We will read several complete dialogues in translation, and will also read a wide variety of secondary source material. [ more ]

CLAS 332 (S)Aristotle's Metaphysics

Not offered this year

In this course we will study Aristotle's Metaphysics concentrating of books gamma-theta. Aristotle sets out to study being qua being, or what is insofar as it is. The thoughts that Aristotle expresses in these books were instrumental in setting an intellectual agenda that dominated western thought through the Middle Ages and provided the backdrop against which the modern philosophical tradition arose. Furthermore, many of the issues that Aristotle takes up in these books remain of central importance in contemporary philosophy. Our main goal in this course is to work our way through Aristotle's text which can be extremely daunting, and to reconstruct his central positions and his arguments for these positions. We will also read selections from the vast secondary literature on Aristotle's Metaphysics. [ more ]

CLAS 334 (S)Greek and Roman Ethics

Not offered this year

Most thoughtful human beings spend a good deal of time musing about how we ought to live. The philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome were among the first thinkers to develop rigorous arguments in response to such musings. While ancient scientific theories and the philosophical systems constructed in accordance with these theories might be of interest only to scholars of the ancient world, the moral philosophy produced in Greece and Rome remains as relevant today as it was when it was written. In this course, we will closely examine some central texts in ancient moral philosophy. We will begin by reading several of Plato's early dialogues and the entirety of his Republic. We will then turn to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, as well as selections from his Eudemian Ethics, Magna Moralia and Politics. Finally we will examine some central texts in the Stoic and Epicurean traditions, as well as some of Cicero's contributions to moral philosophy. We will pay special attention to how different thinkers conceive of the nature of happiness, the nature of virtue, and the relation between the two. We will also spend a good deal of time thinking about the moral psychology of the thinkers we read. [ more ]

CLAS 340 (S)Roman Cities in the Near East

Not offered this year

The Near East under Roman rule was a zone of intense cultural contact and exchange. Major urban centers, like Ephesus and Alexandria, were home to a diverse array of Greeks, Romans, Jews, Egyptians and other Semitic peoples. Out of this cultural crucible emerged new movements in religion, science, and the arts which changed the face of the Roman Empire. This course examines the history and material culture of Roman cities in the Near East, from Pompey's annexation of Syria in 64 BCE to the Arab conquest in the 7th century CE. We will consider a variety of evidence, including sculpture, architecture and epigraphy, as well as textual sources, such as Josephus' Jewish War, Acts of the Apostles and Tacitus' Histories. Class discussion will focus on issues related to ethnicity and identity formation in the eastern Roman provinces. Possible topics include the Romanization of the Near East, the First Jewish Revolt, the formation of early Christianity, and the Roman wars with Sassanian Persia. This course fulfills the EDI requirement because it explores the interaction between peoples and cultures in the ancient Near East and their diverse responses to Roman imperialism. [ more ]

CLAS 341 (F)Envisioning Empire: Geography in the Graeco-Roman World

During the first century BCE, successive civil wars divided the Roman Empire along ethnic, geographical and partisan lines. Octavian's victory at battle of Actium in 31 BCE officially brought an end to the Roman civil wars, but it did not in itself unify the empire. Out of this matrix of social fragmentation and uncertainty arose the geographical texts of the Augustan age. The genre of universal geography provided a convenient means to reconfigure identity boundaries in post-Actium world. By delineating stable borders between the peoples and provinces, geographical texts (whether written, sculptural or pictorial) literally mapped out identity boundaries and power relationships to create a new, unified image of the Roman Empire. This course examines the political and cosmological of implications geographical sources produced under the Roman Empire, including the Res Gestae of Augustus, Strabo's Geography and Tacitus' Germania. We will also look at maps and other visual representations of the Roman world, such as the personification groups depicted on the Roman imperial cult temples at Aphrodisias and Pisidian Antioch. Discussion will focus on such issues as the relationship between geography and ethnography and the differences between modern cartography and the geographical mapping techniques used in the ancient world. [ more ]

CLAS 485 T (F)After Rome

What happened to the Western Roman Empire? Did barbarians destroy it, did internal weakness undermine it, or did its participants voluntarily set it aside in favor of new cultural, social and political ideas? How did the evaporation of imperial political and military structures change the cultural and religious fabric of Europe? And above all, what is it that divides the ancient from the medieval world? Few questions in European history have occupied historians as insistently as these, and yet for all the lengthy books, ponderous documentaries, and political polemics, we are no closer to a consensus view. This tutorial will approach these timeless questions, first, through a comparative survey of the post-Roman Mediterranean, considering North Africa, Spain, Italy, Gaul, and the Byzantine East in turn. We will consult key primary sources for each region, including tax records, laws, narrative histories, letters, religious texts and archeological finds, as they are variously available. This first-hand experience with the problems of post-Roman history will prepare us to engage with secondary scholarship on the late imperial and early medieval worlds. Alongside the classic catastrophist readings of post-Roman history, which see the centuries after 476 CE as a period of severe economic and social dislocation, we will explore more recent arguments that seek to circumvent the problem of Rome's fall by positing an era of economic, cultural and intellectual continuity from the fifth through the eighth centuries. [ more ]

CLAS 493 (F)Senior Thesis: Classics

Recommended for all candidates for the degree with honors. This project will normally be of one semester's duration, in addition to a Winter Study. [ more ]

CLAS 494 (S)Senior Thesis: Classics

Recommended for all candidates for the degree with honors. This project will normally be of one semester's duration, in addition to a Winter Study. [ more ]

CLAS 497 (F)Independent Study: Classics

Classics independent study. Students with permission of the department may enroll for independent study on select topics not covered by current course offerings. [ more ]

CLAS 498 (S)Independent Study: Classics

Classics independent study. Students with permission of the department may enroll for independent study on select topics not covered by current course offerings. [ more ]

CLAS 499 (F, S)Senior Colloquium

This two-semester course is required for all senior Classics majors and usually meets four times each semester. Our activities vary from year to year but normally include presentations by seniors who are taking independent studies or writing Honors theses in Classics, as well as meetings with guest speakers and distinguished visiting professors. Although required for the Classics major, this is a non-credit course and does not count toward the number of semester courses required for the Classics major or for graduation. Senior majors are expected to attend every colloquium unless excused in advance. [ more ]

Greek

CLGR 101 (F)Introduction to Greek

This full-year, intensive course presents the fundamentals of Greek grammar, syntax, and vocabulary and introduces students, in the second semester, to works of the classical period (usually Xenophon and Euripides). [ more ]

CLGR 102 (S)Introduction to Greek

This full-year, intensive course presents the fundamentals of Greek grammar, syntax, and vocabulary and introduces students, in the second semester, to works of the classical period (usually Xenophon and Euripides). [ more ]

CLGR 201 (F)Intermediate Greek

Reading of selections from Hesiod and from Plato, combined with grammar review. The primary goal of this course is to develop fluency in reading Greek. We will also read the texts closely to explore important continuities and changes in Greek culture between the archaic and classical periods. The emphasis will vary from year to year, but possible subjects to be explored include: the education and socialization of the community's children and young adults; religion and cult practices; the performative aspects of epic (and choral) poetry and of prose genres like oratory and the philosophical dialogue; traditional oral poetry and storytelling and the growth of literacy; the construction of woman, of man; the development of the classical polis. [ more ]

CLGR 401 (S)Homer: The Iliad

Not offered this year

From the early archaic era through the classical and beyond, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey remained foundational in Greek discourse about community, leadership, war, heroism, family, friendship, loyalty, the gods, justice, and much more. Nearly all of subsequent Greek literature, both poetry and prose, developed out of a dialogue with these epics. In this course, we will read extensive selections from the Iliad in Greek and the entire epic in translation. [ more ]

CLGR 402 (F)Homer: The Odyssey

Not offered this year

From the early archaic era through the classical and beyond, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey remained foundational in Greek discourse about community, leadership, war, heroism, family, friendship, loyalty, the gods, justice, and much more. Nearly all of subsequent Greek literature, both poetry and prose, developed out of a dialogue with these epics. In this course, we will read extensive selections from the Odyssey in Greek and the entire epic in translation. [ more ]

CLGR 403 (F)Poetry and Revolution in Archaic Greece

Not offered this year

The age of experiment, lyric poetry, tyranny, migration and discovery, and the personal voice: it takes many images to describe the profound changes in Greek society, thought, and self-expression that took place during the archaic era (roughly 800 BCE to the Persian invasion of 479 BCE). We will first read selections from the lyric poets (e.g. Archilochus and Sappho, Tyrtaeus and Solon), whose concise and expressive poems reflected contemporary culture in a way that the archaic epics did not. Their poems create for modern readers, as they did for the Greeks, a powerful sense of the poet's personal presence and engagement with his (or her) audience. A similar intimacy characterizes the writings of many of the pre-Socratics, from which we will next read selections. Confident in the ability of the human mind to understand both the human and the physical world, the pre-Socratics anticipated what came to be known as philosophy and natural science. We will then turn to other writers who spoke directly about the political upheavals of the archaic age, focussing on the tyrant narratives of Herodotus. Throughout the semester we will also consider such significant material changes in the archaic era as the development of monumental public sculpture, the evolution of the temple, and the undertaking of vast building programs, all of which transformed the visual scale of the Greek cities and their citizens' sense of self and community. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

CLGR 404 (F)Tragedy

Tragedy was a hybrid genre invented in sixth-fifth century Athens, where tragic performances in the city's festival of the Greater Dionysia played a vital role in the democratic polis. This course will focus on reading in Greek a complete tragedy of Sophokles or Euripides; we will also read in translation several other tragedies, a satyr-play, and a comedy of Aristophanes. While focusing on questions of particular importance for the play we are reading in Greek, we will also situate that play in a larger context by exploring, for instance: aspects of the social and political situations in and for which fifth-century tragedies were first produced; the several performance genres out of which tragedy was created; developments in the physical characteristics of the theater and in elements of staging and performance; problems of representation particularly relevant to theatrical production and performance. [ more ]

CLGR 405 (F)Greek Lyric Poetry

Not offered this year

This course will explore the development of Greek lyric poetry from the eighth to the fifth centuries BCE. Beginning with Archilochus, Sappho, and Alcaeus, and proceeding through such poets as Solon, Anacreon, Ibycus, and Theognis, we will examine the formal, social, and performative contexts of lyric, the influence of epic and choral poetry on the evolution of the genre, and the difficulties of evaluating a fragmentary corpus. Finally, we will explore the influence of political and economic changes in the early fifth century on the work of Simonides. The goal throughout is to investigate the structures, innovations, and problems of poetic self-expression in early Greek poetry. [ more ]

CLGR 406 T (S)Coming of Age in the Polis

Not offered this year

Studying a society's modes of rearing its young, and especially the ways it prepares and tests adolescents for their "coming of age" into their adult roles, provides an excellent approach to exploring its fundamental values and institutional practices. Archaic and classical Greek literature not only reflects but actively reflects upon the socialization of boys and girls in the Greek polis. In this course we will read in Greek selections from the Homeric Hymns to Demeter and Apollo and, in its entirety, a tragedy (e.g., Sophocles' Philoctetes), examining these texts through the lens of "coming of age." We will read in English brief selections from Homeric epic and from elegiac and lyric poetry (monodic and choral), and several Athenian tragedies and perhaps a comedy. We will also read critical literature on childrearing, religious cults for boys and girls of different ages, and the role of dance, song and poetry in preparing the young for their adult roles, particularly in fifth-century Athens. Students will be divided into tutorial pairs chiefly according to their previous experience in Greek courses. Students will meet with the instructor once a week either individually or in pairs to present their translations of the Greek assigned for that week, and they will also meet once a week in pairs for the oral presentation of written 5-page reports. At the latter meeting, each student will alternate between making a formal presentation one week and, in the next week, offering an oral critique of the other student's presentation. [ more ]

CLGR 407 (S)Rhetoric and Democracy: the Greek Orators

Not offered this year

The Greek orators of the 4th-century BCE have left us a rich and varied body of work. They were specialists in rhetoric and persuasive discourse, and in the deployment of the one to produce the other. They wrote forensic oratory intended to sway juries, often with little reference to the facts of the case; political speeches with which they argued policy before the Athenian Assembly and aspired to be the city's leaders; attack speeches which they hoped would destroy their rivals; and show pieces intended to dazzle the listener with their rhetorical brilliance. Political careers were launched not by the noble birth and military success that were so important in the previous century, but by high-profile prosecutions won by oratorical prowess. In their own words, the most influential orators of 4th-century Athens will instruct us in rhetoric, demonstrate the stylistic versatility of the Greek language, teach us about what Athenians in the 4th century cared about, reveal theories of human psychology, and persuade us of a thing or two. We will read selected speeches by Lysias, Aeschines, and Demosthenes, as well as portions of speeches by other orators such as Isocrates, Antiphon, and Dinarchus. [ more ]

CLGR 409 (S)Plato

Not offered this year

Plato's writing has exercised an incalculable influence on the development of subsequent philosophy and literature, but his dialogues are equally compelling when they are read independently of the works they have inspired. In this course we will read substantial selections from one or more of the so-called middle dialogues (Symposium, Phaedo, Republic, Phaedrus), in which a variety of speakers, including Socrates, ask and provisionally answer questions such as what are love, beauty, and justice, and how does the human soul in possession of these goods participate in the divine? [ more ]

CLGR 410 T (F)Enchantment and the Origins of Poetry

Not offered this year

Since the earliest period of Greek literature, poems have been intimately bound up in the notion of enchantment, or thelxis. The power of song to alter the mental and physical states of the audience and the world at large is intertwined with the wide variety of uses to which ancient magic was applied. Similarly, the idea of divine or supernatural inspiration can be interpreted as a reflexive enchantment that binds the poet to the transformative power of language. This tutorial course will explore the fundamental ways in which ancient Greek and Roman poetry, and its later offspring, are configured and understood as a kind of enchantment or incantation. By examining works that explicitly depict acts of enchantment as well as those that represent themselves as spells, dreams, charms, and curses, we will attempt to understand the structural and semantic relationships between song and magic across several genres. We will also consider the role of inspiration, enthusiasm, memory, truth, and falsehood in shaping both the poems themselves and discourses about poetry. Finally, we will investigate the reception and elaboration of these concepts in later European poetic traditions from the middle ages through modernity. Readings may include selections from Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, Pindar, Aeschylus, Euripides, Plato's Ion and Phaedrus, Theocritus, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Roman love elegy, Old English charms, Old Norse poetry, Marlowe's Dr. Faustus, Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, Coleridge, Shelley, Mallarme, Valery, T.S. Eliot, and various other poets and critics. All works will be read in English translation, but students who have studied ancient Greek will be expected to read significant portions of the early material in the original. [ more ]

CLGR 412 (S)Herodotus

This course will focus on the reading in Greek of Herodotus' Histories, his multivalent and deeply human account of how and why several hundred years of contact and conflict between the Greek city-states and non-Greek peoples to the east culminated in the Persian invasion of Greece. We will explore the ways in which his rich narrative style and intellectual landscape reflect the influence of Greek and near-eastern oral traditions, Ionian philosophical thought, Greek tragedy, and contemporary Athenian rhetoric and philosophy. We will also study his use of anthropological methods, ethnography, and geography in explaining human events. Among the many themes that permeate his work, we will pay special attention to the working of divine versus human justice, the mutability of human affairs, the nature of authority, the role of family, and the quest for wisdom. [ more ]

CLGR 413 (F)Hellenistic Poetry

Not offered this year

After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE, a new cultural center emerged in the recently founded city of Alexandria in Egypt. From across the Greek-speaking world, intellectuals who were both scholars and poets flocked to Alexandria's Museion (the shrine to the Muses) and its renowned library to categorize and organize the literature of the past while creating new kinds of poetry and poetic ideals. This course surveys the poetry of Hellenistic period with a focus on the "big three" poets of the third century, Callimachus, Theocritus, and Apollonius of Rhodes, who were especially influential on later Latin poetry of the Republic and Augustan ages. As we read a variety of texts including epigrams, hymns, mimes, pastoral idylls, and selections from epic, we will pay close attention to issues of genre, the tension between tradition and innovation, and the cultural context of Greco-Egyptian Alexandria. [ more ]

Latin

CLLA 101 (F)Introduction to Latin

This is a full-year course on the fundamentals of the Latin language. The first semester and part of the second emphasize learning basic grammar; the rest of the second semester is devoted to reading selections from Latin poetry (e.g., Vergil's Aeneid and some Medieval Latin poetry, e.g., the Carmina Burana) and from Latin prose (e.g., Pliny's Letters and/or the Vulgate Bible). [ more ]

CLLA 102 (S)Introduction to Latin

This is a full-year course on the fundamentals of the Latin language. The first semester and part of the second emphasize learning basic grammar; the rest of the second semester is devoted to reading selections from Latin poetry (e.g., Vergil's Aeneid and some Medieval Latin poetry, e.g., the Carmina Burana) and from Latin prose (e.g., Pliny's Letters and/or the Vulgate Bible). [ more ]

CLLA 201 (F)Intermediate Latin: The Late Republic

Reading of selections from Latin prose and poetry, normally from a speech or letters by Cicero and from the poetry of Catullus. This course includes a comprehensive review of Latin grammar and aims primarily at developing fluency in reading Latin. At the same time it acquaints students with one of the most turbulent and important periods in Roman history and attends to the development of their interpretative and analytic skills. [ more ]

CLLA 302 (S)Vergil's "Aeneid"

This course is a comprehensive introduction to Vergil's Aeneid. Students will develop their ability to read and translate the Latin text of the poem, while at the same time exploring the major interpretive issues surrounding the definitive Roman epic. Through a combination of close reading and large-scale analysis, we will investigate the poem's literary, social, and political dimensions with special attention to Vergil's consummate poetic craftsmanship. [ more ]

CLLA 401 (S)Plautus' Rome Made Visible

Not offered this year

Augustus famously claimed to have found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble, but Rome had been a visually impressive city since the sixth century. Romans in every period and of every status experienced their lives with an intense sense of time and place in this gloriously multi-class, multi-ethnic, and multi-lingual city, filled with public spectacles that often competed with one another to map Rome and its history. We will explore Rome of the Middle Republic through selected fragments of Livius Andronicus, Naevius, Ennius, and the elder Cato, as well as some remains of much older Latin, but our chief guide will be Plautus' comedy, the Aulularia (circa 190). This play was produced after more than a century of temple-building, monument-erecting, cult-and-festival-creating, and story-promoting that would shape every subsequent version of Rome, in real space and time and in the imaginary. The Aulularia takes us into the heart of this loud, crowded and busy Rome -- even though it purports to be set in Athens. In using this play as our guide to Rome, we will examine Romans' self-fashioning through a creative appropriation of "the other" which insists on maintaining a distance from that other, be it Greek or Sabine, female or eunuch, slave or plebeian. [ more ]

CLLA 403 (F)The Invention of Love: Catullus and the Roman Elegists

Not offered this year

This course will explore the development of Latin love poetry in the first century BCE. Beginning with Catullus, we will examine the influence of Greek lyric poetry on the evolution of the genre as well as Roman attitudes toward love exhibited in other literature of the Late Republic. We will then turn to the full development of the elegiac form in the love poems of Propertius, Tibullus, and Sulpicia. Finally, we will explore the transformation of the genre in Ovid's Amores. The goal throughout is to investigate the conventions, innovations, and problems of expressing personal desire and longing amid the social and political upheaval of the transition from Republic to Principate. [ more ]

CLLA 405 (F)Livy and Tacitus: Myth, Scandal, and Morality in Ancient Rome

Mythical stories of Rome's founding, which were formulated by many generations of Roman authors and public figures, served as a framework for these very thinkers to analyze and articulate Roman self-image in rich and creative ways; one who stands out among these figures is the Augustan historian Livy. The "second founding" of the Republic by Augustus, and the careers of his successors, in turn gave later Roman writers like Tacitus fresh inspiration for Roman self-imagining and self-analysis. We will begin the semester in mythical Rome, reading selections from Book 1 of Livy's history which present figures like Aeneas, the Trojan refugee whose arrival in Italy was conceptually crucial to Rome's development and position in Italy and the Mediterranean; Romulus, by whom Rome was founded in an act of fratricide; the Sabine women, whose nobility prevented a deadly war between their fathers and their Roman kidnappers; and Lucretia, whose virtue and self-sacrifice led to the liberation of Rome from a decadent and violent monarchy and to the founding of the Roman Republic. We will examine how Livy deploys the storyteller's art to excite his readers' pathos, indignation, and sympathy; we will examine as well how Livy often filters his account of mythical Rome through the lens of his own time, thereby constructing Rome's past through the Augustan present. Writing more than a century after Livy, Tacitus offers a different view of Augustus, and his account of the rude and dissolute Tiberius, the unscrupulous Livia, Rome's craven and dispirited senators, and the many scandals attached to the imperial family, figures a Rome once again suffering under a decadent monarchy. Tacitus's compressed, fastidious, inimitable prose is the vehicle for his stern yet often sardonic psychological insights, which subtly manage to combine moral judgment with prurient pleasure in the scandals of others. [ more ]

CLLA 406 (S)Horace Odes 1-3

Not offered this year

Nietzsche claimed that he never had an artistic delight comparable to his experience of reading a Horatian ode. Through close readings of selected odes in Books 1-3 we will seek to experience such delight for ourselves and to learn why, as Nietzsche put it, "what is here achieved is in certain languages not even to be hoped for." We will examine the relation between poetic landscapes, poetic programs and the poetry's exploration of subjects like love, friendship, youth and old age, death, politics, private morality; the poet's capacity to define himself by offering his own account of poetic traditions and his place in them; the variety of voices and perspectives within individual poems and throughout the collection; the demands thereby placed on the poet's audience and the power of the poetry to transform an audience equal to those demands. It is in terms of this transformational power of poetry that we will consider Horace's relationship to his contemporaries, particularly Vergil, his patron Maecenas, and Augustus. [ more ]

CLLA 407 (F)Caesar and Cicero

Not offered this year

The one a brilliant strategist, the other preeminent in the courts, Caesar and Cicero were both master politicians whose ambitions for themselves and for their country brought them into bitter conflict. Their combined oeuvres provide compelling, detailed accounts of the events and personalities that ended the Roman republic and ushered in an era of prolonged civil war. Moreover, despite striking differences, their works can justifiably be claimed to be the twin summits of classical Latin prose. In this course we will read extensive selections from Caesar's commentarii (the Bellum Gallicum and Bellum Civile) and from Cicero's speeches and letters, aiming throughout at a better understanding of these authors' stylistic achievements as well as the pragmatic persuasive goals that drove their rhetoric. [ more ]

CLLA 408 (S)Roman Comedy

Not offered this year

About fifteen years after the Romans' hard-fought victory over Hannibal and the Carthaginians in the devastating Second Punic War, Plautus presented to his Roman audience a new comedy, Poenulus (The Little Carthaginian). Surprisingly, Plautus' little Carthaginian seems to be the hero of the play. This course will engage the vexed questions surrounding the interpretation of this play and its many Carthaginian characters through a variety of approaches. We will consider how genre, the play's political, social, and religious contexts, and especially different aspects of performance might influence our understanding of the play. While focusing on the Poenulus, we will explore the textual and archaeological evidence for ancient dramatic performance, and we will read other plays by Plautus. Finally, we will consider the influence of Roman comedy on later comedic traditions, from commedia dell' arte to the modern musical and the sitcom. [ more ]

CLLA 409 (S)Seneca and the Self

Through a close reading of selections from his Dialogues, Epistulae Morales, and a tragedy (probably Medea), this course will consider ethical and literary dimensions of self-fashioning, self-examination, and the conception of self in the Stoic philosophy of the younger Seneca. The focus of this course lies squarely in the first century CE, and on the analysis of Seneca's own texts. We will begin, however, with an introduction to the ethics of Roman Stoicism through the personae theory of Panaetius as recorded in Cicero's De Officiis. Moreover, we will read and discuss selections from some of Seneca's most famous and influential interpreters, including Montaigne and Foucault, in order to enrich our understanding of contemporary assessments of his work and to gain an appreciation of Seneca's considerable influence on later theorizations of selfhood. [ more ]

CLLA 412 (F)Roman Ethnography

Not offered this year

This course explores the development of Roman ethnography from the Late Republic into the early Empire. We will begin by examining how Greek ethnographic accounts of the barbarian "Other" influenced Roman writers of the late Republic, and then move on to assess the impact of Roman imperial ideology on the further development of the genre. Roman ethnographers appealed to popular tropes and ethnic stereotypes that were easily intelligible to their Roman audience. As a result, their writings tell us far less about the foreign peoples and places they claim to describe than about the cultural and political aspirations of the Romans themselves. In addition to reading excerpts, in Latin, from Caesar's De Bello Gallico, Ovid's Tristia,, and Tacitus' Agricola, we also will read selections from Catullus, Pliny's Natural History, and the earliest Roman geographer, Pomponius Mela. [ more ]

CLLA 414 (F)Vergil's Eclogues and Georgics

Not offered this year

This course will explore the two major works of Vergil that precede the Aeneid: the Eclogues, a series of ten pastoral poems that range widely across personal, political, and mythological themes; and the Georgics, a longer didactic poem in four books that uses an agricultural framework to examine issues of life, death, power, suffering, and love. The goal throughout is to investigate the literary, political, and social dimensions of the poems with special attention to their relationship to earlier models, as well as their exquisite poetic craftsmanship [ more ]