Course Numbering System

Language Courses (CLGR and CLLA): The 100-level language courses are intensive introductions to Greek and Latin grammar. The 200-level language courses combine 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. 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 Greek and Latin literature. Students may enter the rotation at the 100-, 200- or 300-level, depending on previous experience.

Classical Studies courses (CLAS), in which all readings are in English, provide both surveys and opportunities for more specialized study of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. The numbering of these courses does not reflect a strict sequence, and most of them do not assume prior experience in Classics or a cross-listed field. The following pairs of courses offer excellent introductions to key areas of study within Classics: CLAS 101 an 102 (literature), CLAS 209 and 210 (visual and material culture), CLAS 222 and 223 (history).

Classical Studies

CLAS 101(F) LEC Greek Literature: Performance, Conflict, Desire

In the Iliad, Paris' desire for the famously beautiful Helen leads to the Trojan War, the devastating conflict between the Trojans and the Greeks retold and reimagined time and again in ancient Greek literature. The stories of Troy and its aftermath were performed not only as epic poems (as in the Iliad and the Odyssey), but also re-enacted by singing and dancing choruses, dramatized on the tragic stage, and recounted in oratory. Beginning with the Homeric epics, this course explores the recurring and ever-shifting debates, longings, hostilities, and aspirations that drive Greek literature and shape its reception, with a particular focus on questions of performance context and audience. Our attention to sound, movement, and staging will be enriched by consideration of select examples from the rich reception history of Greek myth in modern theater and dance. The nexus of performance, conflict, and desire will also give us a distinct perspective on many important topics within the study of Greek culture, including the embodiment of personal and collective identities, the workings of Athenian democracy, and the development of literary genres. This course will include readings from, e.g., Homer, Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Thucydides, and Plato, as well as viewings of relevant performance works. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 102 SEM Roman Literature: Gender, Virtue, Empire

Last offered Spring 2023

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 the 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 105 TUT Telling Tales in Ancient Greece

Last offered Fall 2023

One-eyed monsters, magical spells, and trips to the moon: Greek literature is replete with tales of fantastic creatures and wild adventures. These ancient stories give us valuable opportunities to explore early understandings of "fiction," the development of narrative, and the construction of the storyteller in both poetry and prose. In this course, we will read texts from Homer's Odyssey (8th cent. BCE) to Heliodorus' Aethiopica (4th cent. CE), alongside a range of scholarly approaches to them. We will pay particular attention to the prose fiction of the Roman imperial era, including both the texts traditionally called the "ancient novel" as well as the various forms of biography, ethnography, and mythography adjacent to them. Throughout, we will explore narratives and representations of gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, class, and cultural identity, reflecting on how our primary sources engage with their complex social and political contexts. All readings will be in English. [ more ]

CLAS 111(F) SEM Oracle, Prophecy, Possession: Commun(icat)ing with Divine Powers

This course explores a set of practices and contexts in which humans have sought to interact with divine powers. We shall ask how humans interact with divine powers through the techniques of spirit possession, prophecy, and consulting with oracles. Importantly, we shall also ask how these interactions reveal and produce what it is to be human, with attention to differences among humans and the relation between humans and nonhuman forces (divine powers but also natural forces and other animals). The bulk of the course will focus on ancient examples from cultural contexts near the Mediterranean Sea, but we shall also consider other geographical regions and some modern practices and contexts. Ideal for students interested in ancient religions but also those interested in questions of power, agency, and how the ways that we imagine what it means to be human involve questions about nonhuman forces (whether imagined in religious, scientific, philosophical, or other terms). [ more ]

CLAS 200 SEM History of the Book

Last offered Fall 2014

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 201 SEM Love and Strife

Last offered Fall 2020

In one of the earliest known attempts to explain the universe, the philosopher-poet Empedocles wrote that everything in existence is moved by love and strife. This fundamental pair of forces has shaped accounts of human experience for over two millennia. Are these principles simple opposites, complements, or even two aspects of a single concept? What happens when they fall out of balance or both are absent? Can love consume strife, or strife destroy love? Artists and writers have taken up these and similar questions in myriad forms, from nursery rhymes to epic poems, from philosophical contemplation to popular song, from the tragic stage to the silver screen. This course will use Greek and Latin works as touchstones for exploring ancient and modern representations of love and strife. Our ancient sources may include Homer, Sappho, Sophocles, Horace, Catullus, and Seneca, as well as architecture, graffiti, and epitaphs. Later sources may include Shakespeare and screwball comedies, Broadway standards and the Beatles, Renaissance fresco and modern sculpture, and literary professions of love from the silly to the sublime. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 202 SEM Greek Tragedy

Last offered Spring 2024

Ancient Greek tragedy was a cultural phenomenon deeply embedded in its 5th-century Athenian context, yet it is also a dramatic form that resonates powerfully with 21st-century artists and audiences. This course examines tragedy on both levels. We will read such plays as Aeschylus' Agamemnon, Sophocles' Electra, and Euripides' Medea in English translation, considering their literary and dramatic features as well as their relationship to civic, social, and ritual contexts. We will discuss such topics as the construction of gender and identity on the dramatic stage, the engagement between tragedy and other literary genres, and the distinctive styles of the three major Athenian playwrights. We will also survey a set of recent productions and adaptations of these plays, with a particular focus on how modern playwrights and producers use Greek tragedy to explore justice, power, race, gender, status, and sexuality. We will consider how a dramatic form largely produced by and for Athenian citizen men became a creative resource for a remarkably diverse range of 21st-century artists, and explore how modern productions offer fresh perspectives on ancient material. All readings will be in English. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

CLAS 203(F) LEC 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 the earth is at the center of the cosmos. 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. Finally, we will examine 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 SEM Ancient Wisdom Literature

Last offered Spring 2022

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 SEM From Adam to Noah: Literary Imagination and the Primeval History in Genesis

Last offered Fall 2020

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 some continuations of these variant traditions in medieval literature, with particular attention to the material on the figures of Cain and Noah. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 209 LEC From Alexander to Cleopatra: Remodeling the Mediterranean World

Last offered Fall 2022

The period between Alexander the Great (323 B.C.) and Cleopatra (30 B.C.), like our own, was characterized by internationalism, migration, wide-ranging cultural values and religious practices, and ethnically diverse urban populations. Large numbers of non-Greeks came under the control of newly established Hellenistic kingdoms, while in the west Rome's emergence as a superpower offered both new opportunity and danger. The Hellenistic world was a place of vibrant change in the spheres of art, architecture, urban planning, and public spectacle. In this course, we will consider the art and archaeology of this period in their political, social, and religious contexts, focusing on the visual language of power and royalty; developments in painting, sculpture, mosaics, and monumental architecture; interactions between Greeks and non-Greeks; and the impact of Greek culture in Rome. [ more ]

CLAS 210(S) LEC Art and Experience in Ancient Rome

To see and be seen--it could be argued that this was the very definition of Roman culture. Much like today, spectacle and the dissemination of images lay at the heart of political and social life. The visual arts were crucial both to how the Romans rehearsed their identity and goals as a community, and to how individual Romans communicated their achievements and values. In this course, lectures on the art and architecture of ancient Rome (ca. 300 B.C.-A.D. 400) will provide the backdrop for an investigation into the role visual culture played in the lives of all Romans, including slaves and former slaves, women and children. Special topics will include the funeral and funerary portraiture; the military triumph and monuments of victory; the house as a site of memory; the use of images on coins; participation in religious celebrations; displays of war booty and prisoners of war; experience and audience at the racetrack and in the amphitheater; the spectacle of food and dining; and the Roman street as both contested space and a place for art. Readings will include a combination of primary and secondary sources. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 211 SEM Performing Greece

Last offered Spring 2021

Modern readers often encounter Homer, Sappho, Sophocles, and the Greek orators through written texts, yet their first ancient audiences experienced the words of these authors not in silence and solitude, but in live performance contexts. This course, therefore, will take up performance as a critical lens for interpreting ancient Greek literature, situating these works within a rich culture of song, dance, speech, and debate. We will survey the evidence for the musical, visual, and embodied aspects of Greek literature, and also reflect on the rewards and limits of enlivening the ancient world through the reconstruction and re-imagination of its performative dimensions. Our attention to performance will give us a distinct perspective on many important topics within the study of Greek culture, including the construction of personal and collective identities, the workings of Athenian democracy, and the development of literary genres, and it will also enable us to consider the reception and reperformance of Greek myth and literature from new angles. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 212 SEM The Art of Friendship

Last offered Fall 2016

The idea of friendship has captivated poets, philosophers, and their audiences for over three millennia. The subtle dynamics of this fundamental relationship between humans have been a source of inspiration, consolation, and consternation for countless writers and readers. What are the different types of friendship? How does one make a friend, and what makes a good friend? How does a friend differ from an acquaintance, an ally, an accomplice, an enemy? Can the beloved also be a friend? Ancient Greek and Latin writers took up these and other questions about friendship in philosophical dialogues and treatises, epic and lyric poems, tragic and comic plays, oratory, and correspondence. This course will explore ancient theories and representations of friendship through readings from many of the most important texts and authors of antiquity, including Gilgamesh, the Hebrew Bible, Homer, Sappho, Euripides, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Virgil, Seneca, and the Epistles of Paul. We will also consider the wide-ranging responses to these meditations and depictions in later traditions from the Middle Ages to modernity, in such writers as Heloise and Abelard, Aelred of Rievaulx, Aquinas, Montaigne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop, Jack Kerouac, and Susan Sontag. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 213(F) LEC The Human Figure in the Ancient Mediterranean

From the earliest representations in the third millennium BCE until the end of the Roman period in the fifth century CE the human body remained the foremost choice of subject for artists, patrons, critics, and the public in the ancient Mediterranean world. This course will consider cultural ideas about the body in antiquity, and trace their repercussions in the modern era. Over the course of the semester we will concentrate on 12 case studies, each representing a specific concept from an area of the Mediterranean. Topics include the "shining bodies" of bare-chested potentates in Egypt and the ancient Near East, statues that give the dead voice, the perfection and humanity of the bodies of the gods, ancient Greek science and the nude goddess, the pathos of Hellenistic athletes, and the interpretative challenge of the ambiguous and sensuous marble forms of the Barberini Faun or the Sleeping Hermaphrodite, both found in Roman contexts. We'll consider the cross-influences of ideas about gender, class, race and the body coded in public and private art. Reading material will include ancient literature in translation as well as contemporary critical essays. Evaluation will be based on participation in discussion and group presentations, short response paper, tests on images, and a final 8-page research paper. Engaged library research of original paper topics will be supported throughout the semester. [ more ]

CLAS 214 SEM Athletics and Literature in Ancient Greece

Last offered Spring 2023

The modern Olympic games are one of the most visible traces of ancient Greek influence on contemporary culture. Less well-known, however, are the complex and challenging poems (originally songs) of Pindar and Bacchylides that celebrated the victors of the archaic Greek games. These victory odes are a rich source for the study of Greek culture, from their vivid descriptions of heroic feats to their philosophical claims about human life and divine favor. Athletic competition provides the impetus for these songs and constitutes one of their major themes, yet their significance extends far beyond a single athlete or festival. In this course, we will interrogate the relationship between athletics and literary production in the ancient Greek world. We will use both primary and secondary sources to develop familiarity with major festivals, games, events, and figures, and use that knowledge to contextualize our analysis of Greek literature. Ancient Greek athletic discourse will thus provide an entry point to broader reflections on the literary construction and representation of the body and its movement, as well as the interplay between literature and its cultural contexts. [ more ]

CLAS 215 SEM Roman Homes and Gardens

Last offered Fall 2023

For ancient Romans, the house was far more than a private dwelling intended only for a nuclear family and close friends. Instead, it was a place where many different social roles--those of the homeowners themselves, as well as their dependents, enslaved workers, business partners, and political rivals--were enacted and expressed. The garden also had a crucial part to play, communicating a special relationship with the natural world, with travel lands, or with the divine. In this course, we will examine a wide range of Roman homes and gardens from 250 BCE-300 CE (including shepherds' huts and military camps, apartments and townhouses, villas and palaces), traveling to different geographical regions, both throughout Italy (especially, Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Rome), but also to Britain, Croatia, Israel, Spain, and Tunisia. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, this seminar will explore the archaeology, history, decoration, and social practices of these physical spaces, as well as their deployment as powerful cultural symbols in ancient life and literature--and in later historical periods, too. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 221 SEM Technologies of Religion in the Early Christian World

Last offered Fall 2017

What is the relationship between religion and technology? How do various technologies affect the production and distribution of religious knowledge? Facilitate communication and interaction with the divine? Transform the religious self? In this course, we will look specifically at the uses and effects of technology on religion in the early Christian world. While focused most directly on the influence of technology on the development of early Christianity, the course will also explore the place of technology in coterminous movements: in "pagan" sacrifice, Neoplatonic divination, and Stoic practices of the self. By examining technologies of text production, sacrifice, memory, and the self, the course will shed light on early Christianity and its competing religious and philosophical movements, as well as on the nature of technology's relationship to religion. [ more ]

CLAS 222 LEC Greek History

Last offered Fall 2023

This course covers the history of ancient Greece from the Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean palace civilizations to the Roman conquest of the East Mediterranean (c. 1500-1 BC). We will study the development, expansion, and interactions of Greek society and its cultural expressions through a wide variety of textual sources and archaeological evidence across the Mediterranean basin and West Asia. How did the Greek world conceptualize and enact various modes of individual and collective status, construct political systems from one-man rule to popular democracy, and grapple with issues of memory and identity? How did the Greek world deal with victory and defeat, imperialism and subjugation, freedom and slavery, upheaval and decline? How should we approach the mythology about the origins of humanity, or the subsequent development of natural science and philosophy from Ionia to Athens and beyond? Why has this past continued to work as a mirror in subsequent periods, even up to our modern day? From the collapse of the Mycenaean palaces to the building of the Athenian acropolis, from autocratic warlords to the birth of democracy, from wandering merchants to Hellenistic kings, from Hesiod to Herodotus, Socrates, and Thucydides, this course will seek to reconstruct and understand the trajectory of ancient Greek society and culture from its early inception to its subjugation under Roman rule. All readings will be in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 223(S) LEC Roman History

The history of ancient Rome can be seen as an account of formative events, practices, and thought in the history of western culture; it also is the history of the most far-reaching experience of diverse cultures, beliefs, and practices known in the Western tradition until modern times. By studying Roman history from Rome's emergence in central Italy in the 7th century BCE through the reign of the emperor Constantine in the early fourth century CE, we will see the complex and fascinating results of an ambitious, self-confident nation's evolution, transformation, and expansion throughout the Mediterranean world. We will consider questions such as, How did a republic with an aversion to autocratic rule and devotion to libertas understand its existence as an imperial power as well as its own elite's dominant rule over Romans and non-Romans alike? How and why did the Roman republic and its deeply entrenched republican ideology give way to the effective rule by one man, Augustus, and the increasingly monarchical rule of the emperors who followed? Did Roman political life in the later republic cause the violence that left it in crisis, or did the persistance of violence in Roman life account for the nature of Roman politics? Who were the non-elites of Rome, Italy, and the Roman empire that often get left in the shadows in our ancient sources? Who were the important writers, politicians, poets, philosophers, and innovators whose works constitute a rich cultural heritage worthy of both appreciation and critique? Throughout the course there will be an emphasis on the problems of historical and cultural interpretation, on how the Roman experience is relevant to our own, and, importantly, on the pleasures of historical investigation. Readings for this course will include a variety of original sources, a range of scholarly essays on specific topics, and a textbook that will provide our chronological framework. [ more ]

CLAS 226 SEM The Ancient Novel

Last offered Spring 2019

Pirates, prostitutes, witches, and donkeys: the novels of ancient Greece and Rome often surprise their modern readers with a striking blend of humor, violence, and eroticism. From damsels in distress and daring rescues to impossible journeys and magical transformations, this course will consider these remarkable and varied texts within their own literary and cultural contexts. By reading the works of such authors as Longus, Lucian, Apuleius, and Heliodorus, we will survey the different forms of extended prose fiction that have traditionally been called the ancient "novel." We will confront the challenges of defining the genre itself, and consider both its ancient literary heritage and its later reception and afterlife. We will also explore the ways in which these texts engage with the complex and diverse world of the ancient Mediterranean, paying close attention to the representation of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and cultural identity. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 227 SEM The Examined Life: Ancient Ethical Literature at Rome

Last offered Fall 2021

The philosophical schools of classical antiquity had in common a commitment to eudaemonia; that is, they considered human flourishing as a chief goal of life. This aim was not limited to professional philosophers, however. Rather, the question of how humans should live was a widespread and deeply felt concern, and ethical considerations pervade ancient texts across many genres. This course will focus on works of literature that consider how to live wisely, happily, and well, whether through seeking pleasure or acting justly, whether through political engagement or by retreating from society. We will analyze a wide variety of texts, but all are animated by an ethical premise most famously enunciated by Socrates, namely, that the unexamined life is not worth living. Readings may include dialogues, speeches, correspondence, plays, and poems, among them the Satires and Epistles of Horace, Seneca's On Leisure and On the Happy Life, and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. All readings will be in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 231 SEM Travel in the Ancient Mediterranean

Last offered Spring 2021

The ancient Mediterranean was a vast yet deeply interconnected world, not unlike our own. In spite of difficulties, people traversed it as traders, explorers, colonial invaders, refugees, pilgrims and even tourists. In this course, we will study both the practical realities of travel in the ancient Greco-Roman world and how the idea of journeys shaped and was shaped by these cultural contexts. We will navigate from Ithaca to Italy, from the depths of the underworld all the way to the Moon, as we read foundational travel narratives from Homer, Apollonius of Rhodes, Vergil, Lucian, and Apuleius. We will discuss how these texts represent cultural interactions, and in particular how they construct foreign "others" as well as local identities, and how they interrogate the limits and possibilities of human knowledge. Finally, we will observe how these texts themselves contribute to the emergence of a genre of travel narratives, with influences stretching to the modern day. All readings will be in English [ more ]

CLAS 233(S) SEM Animals in Ancient Literature

Humans are animals, but we tend to view animals as the ultimate other. They delight and terrify us, providing infinite vehicles for the imagination: ways of being other than human and other than civilized, ways of confronting that which seems inhuman in ourselves. In this class, we will read a selection of ancient texts that approach animals in different ways: as inverted humans, as predators, as prey, as agents of the gods, as laborers, as friends, and as a revelation of the ugly truth about our own "human" nature. Primary source readings will be paired with modern scholarly works from classics, comparative literature, and animal studies. We will think about why ancient authors used images of animals in such diverse ways and about our own relationships with animals in modern life, enriching our study with field trips. This is a seminar and will be conducted through discussion and writing workshops, with little to no lecture. [ more ]

CLAS 235 SEM The Garden in the Ancient World

Last offered Spring 2022

Drawing on the literature, art, and archaeology of ancient gardens and on real gardens of the present day, this course examines the very nature and experience of the garden and the act of gardening. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, we will explore the garden as a paradise; as a locus for philosophical discussion and religious encounter; as a site of labor, conquest, and resistance; and as a place for solace, inspiration, and desire. This course will be grounded in crucial readings from antiquity, such as the Hebrew Bible, Homer, Sappho, Cicero, Lucretius, Vergil, Horace, Columella, and Augustine, and in the perspectives of more modern writers, from Jane Austen and Tom Stoppard to contemporary cultural historian George McKay. Ultimately, our goal is to analyze conceptions and expressions of beauty, power, and love-in the garden. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 237 SEM The Life of Ancient Cities: Building, Belonging, Trading and Dying in Greece and Rome

Last offered Spring 2024

In this course we explore ancient urbanism, investigating Greco-Roman cities from the early archaic period through late antiquity. By analyzing a variety of primary sources -- literature, visual art, inscriptions, papyri, building remains -- dating from 750 B.C. to 300 A.D. and ranging geographically from Spain to central Asia, we will think critically about problems such as communal belonging, spatial interaction, social exclusion, monuments, memories, and identities in urban contexts. Athens and Rome will beckon along the way, but numerous places around the Mediterranean basin and beyond will feature prominently, including Pompeii in southern Italy, Olynthus in Macedonia, Cyrene in North Africa, Ephesus and Priene in western Asia Minor, Alexandria and Berenike in Egypt, and Dura Europos and Ai Khanoum in Central Asia. Every week, we will tackle a core question associated with life in the ancient city: the challenges of urban design, the tensions associated with civic membership, the consolidation of political institutions, the conflicts brought about by trade and migration, the role of religion, the effects of war, the universal reality of social exclusion, cultural expressions of life and death, and the impact of sudden natural catastrophes, among others. [ more ]

CLAS 241 TUT Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece and Rome

Last offered Spring 2024

From the household to the marketplace, from sacred spaces to the political arena, sexuality and gender shaped a broad range of attitudes and actions in the ancient Mediterranean world. This course investigates a variety of discourses and practices around sexuality and gender in ancient Greece and Rome with the aim of promoting students' capacity to evaluate claims and dismantle false assumptions about the continuity of the "classical" past with contemporary norms and values. We will carefully analyze, contextualize, and compare a variety of texts, including selections from tragic and comic drama, epic and lyric poetry, handbooks, epitaphs, novels and biography in order to better understand 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 frameworks through which we approach the primary sources. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

CLAS 242 SEM The Country and the City in the Classical World

Last offered Spring 2020

A growing urban-rural divide is defining political discourse around the world. The interrelation and tension between "city" and "countryside" are not new, however, but date back to the time when cities first began. How do cities occupy and transform, interact with and displace rural landscapes? What are the values, stereotypes, and ideals--as well as artistic, literary, and architectural forms--associated with the city and the countryside? What role does one play in the political, social, and economic life of the other? With a focus on ancient Greece and, especially, Rome, this course will combine archaeological evidence and contemporary scholarship with primary sources ranging from Hesiod, Theocritus, Vergil, and Propertius to Cato the Elder, Varro, Vitruvius, and Pliny the Elder, to examine an array of topics including land surveying and colonization; agrarian legislation; the urban food supply; rustic religion in the city; urban parks and gardens; and the concept of the pastoral. Together, we will explore the city and the countryside - not just as places, but also as states of mind. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 243 SEM The Nature of Work

Last offered Spring 2023

Work is something that touches the lived experience and historical realities of almost every human being in every time and place. But how did ancient Mediterranean societies and cultures define and deploy the concepts of "work" and "working," as both an activity and as discourse? This is a question that has received remarkably little attention, in part since modern scholars have all too often followed the lead of elite authors, who obscure the nature of work through their focus on its products: agricultural prosperity, material luxury, urban grandeur, etc. In this course, we will seek to shed light on the world of work in antiquity, to better understand both the experiences of those who worked for a living across an array of spheres and professions, and the value of work as a cultural, aesthetic, and literary concept. Special topics will include: the place of work in conceptions of a "golden age"; the literary topoi of work (like the idle shepherd or the virtuous peasant); representations of "heroic work" (most famously, the Labors of Hercules); the elision or erasure of non-elite labor for elite audiences in art and text; the iconography of work in painting, mosaic, and sculpture; and investigations into specific trades, crafts, and other forms of "making" (from midwifery to shoe making). Readings will be a combination of primary and secondary sources. All readings will be in translation. [ more ]

CLAS 248 LEC Greek Art and the Gods

Last offered Spring 2020

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 270 SEM Reading Jesus, Writing Gospels: Christian Origins in Context

Last offered Spring 2024

What were the religious and cultural landscapes in which Christianity emerged? How did inhabitants of the ancient Mediterranean world speak about the concept and significance of religion? How have scholars of early Christianity answered these questions? What are the implications of their reconstructions of early Christian history? The course is divided into four parts. The first part establishes the courses's interpretive approach. The second part of this course explores aspects of the formation of Christianity from its origins as a Jewish movement until its legalization. The third part of the course focuses on the earliest literature produced to memorialize Jesus. The final part of the course emphasizes modern interpretations of Jesus and the movement of which he was a part; here we shall be examining how scholars make use of ancient materials to frame their arguments and the modern contexts and legacies of making meaning out of biblical and other ancient materials. [ more ]

CLAS 289 TUT Socrates

Last offered Spring 2013

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 SEM The Good Life in Greek and Roman Ethics

Last offered Spring 2023

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. [ more ]

CLAS 307 SEM Augustine's Confessions

Last offered Fall 2020

No thinker has done more to shape the Western intellectual tradition than Augustine (354-430 CE), and no book displays Augustine's dynamic vision of reality more compellingly than the Confessions. Its probing and intimate reflections on the meaning of human life, the nature of God and mind, time and eternity, will and world, good and evil, love and sexuality have challenged every generation since Augustine's own. The seminar will be structured around a close, critically engaged reading of the Confessions (in English translation) and will give attention to its historical context and significance as well as to its philosophical and theological ideas. (There will be optional, supplementary opportunity to engage with the Latin text for interested students with some facility with Latin.) [ more ]

CLAS 320 TUT Enchantment and the Origins of Poetry

Last offered Fall 2010

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, Mallarmé, Valéry, 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 LEC From Achilles to Alexander: Leadership and Community in Ancient Greece

Last offered Fall 2018

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 LEC Plato

Last offered Spring 2023

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 ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

CLAS 332 SEM Aristotle's Metaphysics

Last offered Spring 2020

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 436 SEM Interspecies beings: demigods and monsters in art and culture, ancient to modern

Last offered Fall 2023

Horse-men, cat-women, bull-men, mermaids, snake-people: interspecies creatures are everywhere in ancient Greek and Roman art and poetry. Embodied in satyrs, sphinxes, centaurs, nymphs, and other part-human, part-animal beings is an alternative evolutionary and cultural history. In it, humans and animals live as one. There is no distinction between nature and culture. Male and female are equal. The industrial revolution never happens. This course traces the history of interspecies beings from their origin in ancient Greek art and poetry until today. Three points are important: 1) the relationship between the imagery and ancient political theory about "primitive" life; 2) evolving conceptions of biology and the environment, and 3) the role played by interspecies beings in the conceptualization of what is possible in art. The first half of the course examines the origins and character of interspecies beings in works of ancient art such as the Parthenon, and in ancient writers including Hesiod and Ovid. We examine relevant religious practices, materialist conceptions of nature, and biological theories of speciation, in Empedokles, On nature, Euripides' Bakchai, Plato's Phaidros, and Lucretius' De rerum natura. The second half of the course investigates the survival of classical monsters in the work of early-modern artists such as Botticelli, Michelangelo, Titian, and Dürer, and the rediscovery of ancient materialist theory. We consider the role played by interspecies beings in the formation of late modernism in art and literature. Key texts include Rousseau and Hobbes, Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, Mallarmé's "L'Apres midi d'une faun," and Stoppard's Arcadia. Problems include the relationship between nymphs and sex-workers in Manet, the meaning of the Minotaur in Picasso, and the interest in interspecies beings in the work of women surrealists such as Leonora Carrington. We conclude with contemporary popular culture such as the Hunger Games. [ more ]

CLAS 466 SEM Hellenistic Art and the Beginning of Art History

Last offered Spring 2019

The Hellenistic Period (323-31 BCE) saw the small city-states of the Greek peninsula replaced by far flung kingdoms as important centers of power and culture. In the wake of Alexander the Great's extension of the borders of the classical world all the way to the banks of the Indus River, increased trade, and the movement of individuals between Greece, Egypt, and the Near and Middle East encouraged innovations in philosophy, medicine, religion, literature and art. In fact, a revolution in artistic ideas and forms centered on the social and ethnic diversity of human experience. Royal patrons, and wealthy private citizens including an increasing number of women, commissioned artworks for cities, sanctuaries, tombs, palaces, and estates on a scale rarely seen before. And with the rise of Rome, plundered artworks of earlier periods soon became the desired objects of wealthy collectors, contributing to a mashup of stylistic influence. In this course we'll look closely at influential works of art in bronze, marble, fresco, and mosaic, where artists push the limits of their media in order to express emotional states ranging from pathos to ecstasy, from the mental exhaustion of a defeated athlete, to the cool restraint of a powerful ruler. We'll attempt to understand the conceptual and cultural forces that encouraged artistic innovations of the fourth century BCE through first century CE. We'll also look for the influences of Hellenistic art on artists and writers from the Renaissance to the present day. Reading material includes ancient literature in translation, recent surveys of Hellenistic art, and recent critical essays. [ more ]

CLAS 493(F) HON 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) HON 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) IND 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) IND 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 LEC Senior Colloquium

Last offered Spring 2020

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 ]


CLGR 101(F) LEC Introduction to Greek

This course is the first half of a full-year sequence designed to introduce students to the exciting and rewarding process of reading ancient Greek texts in their original language. We will focus on Attic Greek, the dialect of the Greek language that was spoken in Athens during the Classical period (5th and 4th centuries BCE) and in which some of the most famous works of Greek literature (e.g., the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides and the dialogues of Plato) were composed. But this course will provide a solid foundation in Greek grammar and syntax for students interested in studying other dialects (e.g., the distinctive Greek of the Homeric epics, or the koine of the New Testament) as well. For the fall semester, we will work on developing a firm grasp of Greek nouns, verbs, and adjectives, as well as learning some of the most common ways of constructing complex sentences. From the very beginning, students will have opportunities to apply their knowledge by translating brief excerpts from original Greek sources. [ more ]

CLGR 102(S) LEC Introduction to Greek

This course is the second half of a full-year sequence designed to introduce students to the exciting and rewarding process of reading ancient Greek texts in their original language. We will focus on Attic Greek, the dialect of the Greek language that was spoken in Athens during the Classical period (5th and 4th centuries BCE) and in which some of the most famous works of Greek literature (e.g., the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides and the dialogues of Plato) were composed. But this course will provide a solid foundation in Greek grammar and syntax for students interested in studying other dialects (e.g., the distinctive Greek of the Homeric epics, or the koine of the New Testament) as well. In the spring semester, we will continue our study of the Greek language as we begin translating longer stretches of Greek poetry, historiography, oratory, and/or narrative fiction. By the end of the year, students are prepared to move on to intermediate-level Greek reading courses. [ more ]

CLGR 201(F) SEM Intermediate Greek

This course will be based on readings from Plato's Crito and Hesiod's Theogony in their original Greek. These texts will give you a taste of both Classical prose and Archaic poetry and enable you to improve your ability to read, comprehend, and translate ancient Greek literature. Plato and Hesiod also offer important and influential perspectives on the origins, connections, effects, and value of justice and religion. Students who successfully complete this course will be well-prepared for advanced study of Greek language and literature. [ more ]

CLGR 401(S) SEM Homer

The Homeric epics (Iliad and Odyssey) are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. They offer valuable insight into early Greek society, religion, and culture, and constitute some of our earliest representations of the most famous Greek gods and heroes. The narratives about the Trojan War and its aftermath attributed to Homer also shape much of later Greek literature, both poetry and prose. In this course, we will read extensive selections from Homeric poetry in its original Greek, along with additional readings (primary and/or secondary) in English. [ more ]

CLGR 402 SEM Homer: The Odyssey

Last offered Spring 2022

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) LEC Poetry and Revolution in Archaic Greece

Taken together, the historian Herodotus and the Greek lyric poets (Alcaeus, Solon, Pindar, and others) offer a fascinating window into the tumultuous world of archaic Greece: a period of colonial expansion, political experimentation, and artistic innovation. In this course, we will read selections from both Herodotus' Histories and archaic Greek lyric, in order to understand how these two genres can work together to illuminate Greek cultural discourse during this pivotal era. Students will improve their ability to read Greek poetry and prose in multiple dialects, and deepen their understanding of Greek history and literary style. [ more ]

CLGR 404 SEM Tragedy

Last offered Spring 2023

This course will focus on reading, in Greek, a complete tragedy by Sophocles or Euripides. It will thus improve your ability to read and analyze Greek poetry in a variety of styles and meters. 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 SEM Greek Lyric Poetry

Last offered Fall 2021

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 SEM Aristophanes and Plato

Last offered Fall 2023

This course explores Aristophanes' comedy Clouds and Plato's dramatic dialogue Apology of Socrates through close reading, commentary, translation, and analysis. Together, these texts provide a point of entry for grasping the political and social processes that culminated in the trial, conviction, and execution of Socrates in 399 BCE because "he corrupts the youth and does not recognize the gods the city recognizes (Apology 28b-c)." More broadly, these texts open up perspectives on how scientific inquiry, Socratic conversation, and rhetorical education were viewed in fifth-century Athens and prime us to reconsider core questions ranging from the proper methods, purpose, and stakes of scientific and rhetorical education to the proper role of tradition in familial and civic life and the costs of nonconformity. [ more ]

CLGR 407 LEC Rhetoric and Democracy: the Greek Orators

Last offered Fall 2015

The Greek orators of the 4th-century BCE 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; 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. In this course 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, Isocrates, and Demosthenes, as well as portions of speeches by other orators such as Aeschines, Antiphon, and Dinarchus. [ more ]

CLGR 409 SEM Plato

Last offered Fall 2020

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 TUT Enchantment and the Origins of Poetry

Last offered Fall 2010

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, Mallarmé, Valéry, 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 SEM Herodotus

Last offered Fall 2022

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 ]

Taught by: Kerry Christensen

Catalog details

CLGR 414 SEM Thucydides

Last offered Fall 2019

This course will focus on Thucydides' powerful history of the Peloponnesian War. It is a rich text with much to say about human nature, human motivation, power, morality, the fragility of civilized life, the nature of democracy, leadership, causality in human affairs, and the impact on the Greek city-states of thirty years of nearly continuous war. [ more ]

CLGR 422 SEM Crete in the Ancient Greek Imagination

Last offered Spring 2024

The island of Crete appears across ancient Greek literature as a place of mythic origins, monstrosity, and technological marvels. It plays a paradoxical role as an origin point for quintessentially-Greek practices, such as the paean (hymn to Apollo), as well as a site of difference and even perversion. The god Zeus and the half-human, half-bull Minotaur were both, after all, born on Crete. In this course, we will explore the representation of Crete and Cretans in Greek poetry, including hexameter epic (Homer, the Homeric Hymns), lyric (Bacchylides), and tragedy (Euripides' Hippolytus). The range of reading selections will improve students' understanding of ancient Greek grammar and syntax, and deepen their appreciation of different metrical patterns, dialects, and genres. They will also enable us to consider how the representation of Crete functioned as a way for poets to articulate various elements of Greek identity. In addition to advancing their understanding of Greek language and literature, students in this course will learn about the history, geography, and culture of Crete in the Archaic and Classical periods as it relates to our literary sources, and complete research projects on significant Cretan sites in Greek art, literature, and culture. All students enrolled in this course will have the option of participating in a short-term travel course to Crete in May, conducted in collaboration with CLLA 422. [ more ]


CLLA 101(F) LEC Introduction to Latin

This is a full-year course on the fundamentals of the Latin language. We focus throughout on learning grammar and vocabulary, and we regularly incorporate selections from literature, inscriptions, and other sources. Over time, we gradually increase the emphasis on reading selections from Latin poetry (e.g., Ovid's Metamorphoses) and prose (e.g., Piny's Letters). [ more ]

CLLA 102(S) LEC Introduction to Latin

This is a full-year course on the fundamentals of the Latin language. We focus throughout on learning grammar and vocabulary, and we regularly incorporate selections from literature, inscriptions, and other sources. Over time, we gradually increase the emphasis on reading selections from Latin poetry (e.g., Ovid's Metamorphoses) and prose (e.g., Piny's Letters). [ more ]

CLLA 201(F) SEM Intermediate Latin: The Late Republic

This course aims to strengthen skills gained in previous study. In order to develop greater fluency and familiarity with classical Latin, we will read, translate, and analyze Cicero's Pro Caelio and selected short poems of Catullus. Both authors are brilliant stylists, though each writes in a very different mode. Taken together, these texts offer an excellent introduction to the expressive capacity of Latin in prose and verse. They also open up intriguing overlapping perspectives on the social, sexual, and political mores of late Republican Rome. We will consider the cultural context and implications of these texts as time permits. [ more ]

CLLA 302(S) SEM 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 403 LEC The Invention of Love: Catullus and the Roman Elegists

Last offered Spring 2021

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 SEM Livy and Tacitus: Myth, History and Morality in Ancient Rome

Last offered Spring 2023

We will begin the semester in mythical Rome by reading selections from Book 1 of Livy's history in which Roman values, practices and institutions are given their origin stories, and the mythical figures of Rome's past are established as moral exempla for Rome's present. We will examine how Livy deploys the storyteller's art to excite his readers' pathos, indignation and sympathy; we will examine as well how he constructs Rome's past through the filter of his own Augustan present. Writing more than a century after Livy, Tacitus offers a different and jaded view of Augustus and his legacy, one conditioned by his own experiences living through the terrors of the reign of Domitian. His compressed and fastidious prose is the vehicle for complex and gripping accounts of imperial scandals and tragedies as well as of individual acts of heroism and nobility. We will read primarily selections from Tacitus' Annals as well as selections from either his Germania or Agricola. [ more ]

Taught by: Kerry Christensen

Catalog details

CLLA 406 SEM Horace's Odes

Last offered Fall 2023

This course will explore the poetic delights of Horace's extraordinary experiment in crafting Latin personal verse using Greek lyric forms. We will immerse ourselves in the poems' intricate construction and examine how they engage such themes as love and friendship, landscape and memory, youth and old age, politics, and morality. At the same time, we will consider the variety of voices and perspectives within the poems and their complex relationship both to Greek and Latin poetic traditions and to Horace's own contemporary world. The goal throughout is to investigate the literary, social, political, and philosophical dimensions of the odes, as well as their consummate poetic artistry. [ more ]

CLLA 407 LEC Caesar and Cicero

Last offered Spring 2022

The one a brilliant strategist, the other preeminent in the courts, Caesar and Cicero were both master politicians whose ambitions for their country and themselves 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 stylistic differences, their works jointly are regarded as the acme of classical Latin prose. In this course we will read extensive selections from Caesar's commentaries and Cicero's speeches and correspondence, aiming throughout at better understanding their rhetorical brilliance and pragmatic persuasive goals. [ more ]

CLLA 408 SEM Roman Comedy

Last offered Fall 2020

The comic plays that still survive all had their first productions within roughly forty years between 200 and 160 BCE, as Rome rapidly expanded its military, economic, and political reach beyond the Apennine peninsula. They present critically important evidence for how Roman literature and cultural identity developed in the second century, and they document formulas for slapstick action and low-brow jokes that remain in use even today. Staged in Greek costume and featuring ostensibly Greek characters, the comedies revel in mocking stereotypical Roman values but ultimately reassert them. Sometimes what the Romans found funny is all too familiar; sometimes it's shocking. Our main focus will be on the Mostellaria of Plautus, often translated as "The Haunted House." Characteristic of its genre, the Mostellaria focuses on generational conflict within a household, especially between father and son. To enrich our conversation, we will read several other comedies in translation as well as selected scholarly investigations of this play, its genre, and the historical context. [ more ]

CLLA 409 SEM Seneca and the Self

Last offered Fall 2022

This course considers ethical and literary dimensions of self-fashioning, self-examination, and the conception of selfhood in the Stoic philosophy of the younger Seneca through close reading of extensive selections from his philosophical works and tragedies. The focus of this course lies squarely in the first century CE and on the analysis of Seneca's own texts. We begin, however, with an introduction to the ethics of Roman Stoicism through the personae theory of Panaetius as transmitted by Cicero's De Officiis. Moreover, we will read and discuss reflections on selfhood from some of Seneca's most famous philosophical and literary heirs, including Montaigne, Emerson, and Foucault, both to enrich our understanding of his work and to gain an appreciation of his considerable influence on later writing about the self. [ more ]

CLLA 411(S) SEM Advanced Latin: Apuleius

In this class, we will study Apuleius' hilarious and disturbing Latin novel, Metamorphoses or The Golden Ass. This work explores the themes of curiosity, witchcraft, transformation, animality, and religious conversion through the figure of Lucius, a man who accidentally turns himself into a donkey and remains trapped in this body through various trials and adventures. We will translate the famous inset narrative of "Cupid and Psyche," as well as reading the entire work in English. Our time in class will be spent translating together and discussing readings, which will also include selections from contemporary scholarship and a modern novel inspired by this narrative, C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces. As the final component, students will complete a creative project consisting of their own creative work in any medium inspired by the novel and a commentary that engages closely with the Latin text. [ more ]

CLLA 414(F) SEM Vergil's Eclogues and Georgics

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 ]

CLLA 415 SEM Ovid's Metamorphoses

Last offered Spring 2020

This course will explore Ovid's greatest work, an epic poem in fifteen books entitled Metamorphoses. Ovid's poem narrates the story of the world from its beginning down to his own day, the reign of Augustus, via a series of tales closely woven together through the theme of change. We will translate and discuss large portions of the Latin text along with selections from contemporary scholarship in order to consider the poem in its original political and cultural context as well as its relationship to earlier models and its post-classical reception. [ more ]

CLLA 422 SEM Crete in the Ancient Roman Imagination

Last offered Spring 2024

Appeals to origins "long ago" and "far away" occur as a basis for positive cultural claims in ancient literature, but also function to banish or contain taboo desires and practices by placing them safely beyond the limits of civilized time and place. For the Romans, the island of Crete fulfilled both these roles. In this course, we will explore the representation of Crete and Cretans in several authors and genres, with special attention to Catullus 64 and Ovid's Metamorphoses. We will consider how representations of Crete helped our authors navigate perennial tensions at Rome between philhellenism and xenophobia and attend to the complex play of poetic intertextuality among Roman texts as well as their intimate engagement with Greek predecessors. Moreover, to complement our literary investigation, students will gain familiarity with the history of Roman rule on the island from its establishment as a province in 67 BCE through late antiquity, and will consider vestiges of the Roman imperial presence that endured much longer. Students will research Roman activity on Crete with an emphasis on material culture as well as written sources. All students enrolled in this course will have the option of participating in a short-term travel course to Crete in May, conducted in collaboration with CLGR 422. [ more ]