Fall 2024 Courses

Classical Studies (Fall 2024)

CLSS 1005 Introduction to Ancient Egypt (Lingxin Zhang)

This course invites students to explore the social development and transformation of ancient
Egypt between the 5th millennium BCE and the 3rd century CE. The course pairs historical
outline with thematic discussions, i.e. the early dynastic period and the formation of the early
state, the New Kingdom and Akhenaten’s “monotheistic” reform. Students will also learn about
different schools of historiography that help us to engage analytically with the question of how to
write a history of ancient Egypt, particularly empiricism, post-colonialism, and poststructuralism. At the end of the semester, students will apply all that they have learned by
curating a virtual exhibition on one aspect of the ancient Egyptian civilization. The course
includes a field trip to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, MD.

CLSS 1030 History of Ancient Greece (Catherine Keesling)

In this course we will study ancient Greek history from the 8th century BCE through the
conquest of the Greek mainland by Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great.
Major themes explored will include: the definition of Greek identity, the relationships between
Greeks and Persians, the conflict between Athens and Sparta, and the internal dynamics of the
Greek polis. We will read and consider in class accounts of the important events in Greek history
written by the Greeks themselves (Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon). A major goal of the
course is to explore how present-day ancient historians use sparse and sometimes conflicting
literary sources, in combination with inscriptions and archaeological evidence, to arrive at an
understanding of the distant past. Most class meetings will consist of a combination of informal
lecture by the professor and close examination of the assigned readings. Assignments will
include two exams and two short papers.

CLSS 1060 Introduction to Roman Literature (Charles McNelis)

This course offers a historical survey of the classical world, from the lifetime of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) and the establishment of new kingdoms by his successors on to Rome’s liquidation of these kingdoms and establishment of a massive empire in western Europe. Particular topics of concern include comparisons between the rise of two superpowers, Macedon and Rome; the consequences of aggressive imperialism for the traditional city-state culture of the ancient Mediterranean, as well as the enduring significance of major social institutions and cultural practices (including the gymnasium, the drinking party, theatrical performance, public oratory, and religious cults); the writings of Cicero as a mirror for the Roman Republic. Class sessions will consist of lecture as well as discussions of major written sources (primary and secondary).

CLSS 1070 Intro to Mythology (Claire Catenaccio)

Myths are some of the longest-lasting and most powerful stories that humankind has created. They shape our understanding of transitions and crises: right and wrong, life and death, the natural and the supernatural. They are also playful, exuberant, and highly entertaining. This course introduces students to the myths of Greece and Rome, with comparative material drawn from other ancient texts. Throughout the course we will also think about the role of mythology today, and the way that we use stories to come to terms with ourselves and our world.

CLSS 1099 Beginning Sanskrit Language  (Andrew Merritt)

This course provides a systematic introduction to Sanskrit, the classical language of Indian
civilization. The focus will be on developing thorough familiarity with its grammar and
vocabulary, furnishing students with the basic skills necessary for reading classical texts. As we
make progress, we will pay particular attention to questions of Sanskrit’s cultural context,
historical development, and familial relationship with Greek, Latin, and English.

CLSS 2026 The Ancient Greek City  (Catherine Keesling)

The city-state (polis) was both an institution at the heart of ancient Greek culture and the point of
origin for the western concept of politics. This course offers an introduction to the Greek polis in
all of its political, social, historical, and physical manifestations from the eighth century BCE
through the fifth century CE. Major topics we will consider include: the origins of the polis,
warfare, democracy, colonization, city planning, gender, identity, cross-cultural contact, decline,
and transformation at the end of antiquity. We will spend class time discussing assigned readings
from recent scholarship; assignments will include a short independent research paper.

 CLSS 2040 Julius Caesar: History and Legend (Josiah Osgood)

This course will explore the rich history of political treatises meant to instruct future rulers and statesmen from classical antiquity to the Renaissance. The genre, often known by its Latin name, specula principum (mirrors of princes), became especially popular in the late Middle Ages—not long before Machiavelli wrote what is probably the most famous instance of this genre. Authors read will include Cicero, Seneca, Dhuoda, John of Salisbury, Erasmus, and Machiavelli. The texts will be read in English translation, but since most were originally written in Latin, the course will also provide an overview of Latin literary history through the lens of a single genre.

CLSS288 Magic and Science of the Mediterranean World (Lingxin Zhang)

Is astrology science? Is alchemy magic? What is the logic of divination? This course explores
these questions by traveling back in time to the ancient Mediterranean world, a place where ideas
and technology from Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece converged. The class will explore the
boundary between science and magic by approaching human “knowledge” as a product of its
time and space. The topics covered include knowledge concerning the heavens, the earth,
humans, and social organization. The course encourages students to embrace a more inclusive
definition of “early sciences” by reflecting on the division of STEM fields from the Humanities
in modern times. Course assessments include attendance, participation in the weekly reading
discussions, and a final research paper.

CLSS 2092 Before Machiavelli (Justin Haynes)

This course will explore the rich history of political treatises meant to instruct future rulers and
statesmen from classical antiquity to the Renaissance. The genre, often known by its Latin name,
specula principum (mirrors of princes), became especially popular in the late Middle Ages—not
long before Machiavelli wrote what is probably the most famous instance of this genre. Authors
read will include Cicero, Seneca, Dhuoda, John of Salisbury, Erasmus, and Machiavelli. The
texts will be read in English translation, but since most were originally written in Latin, the
course will also provide an overview of Latin literary history through the lens of a single genre.

CLSS 4052 Pompeii (Seminar) (Marden Nichols)

For classical archaeologists, the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. is a perverse event. In the same
moment that the volcano ended lives and obliterated cities, it also preserved what would become
one of the most fabulous archaeological sites in the world: Pompeii. Pompeii offers a unique
laboratory for the exploration of ancient Roman culture. Considering the archaeology of Pompeii
along with literary evidence and inscriptions, we will devote careful attention to Pompeii’s
streets, shops, temples, baths, houses, theaters, and amphitheater. This seminar will consider the
ways in which inhabitants and visitors to the town of differing genders, ethnic origins, and social
stations moved through its buildings and public spaces. Pompeii may appear to showcase Roman
society in microcosm. Yet our goal will be to discover what set Pompeii apart from nearby cities
such as Herculaneum—and the Bay of Naples region apart from Rome.

See also

GREE 2055 Byzantine International Relations (Ivan Maric)

Over the course of more than 1100 years (c. 330-1453), Byzantium, the Eastern Roman Empire,
demonstrated remarkable endurance in surviving natural disasters, pandemics, ‘the worst year to
be alive’ (536), the Little Ice Age, and a host of powerful enemies—Persians, Huns, Arabs,
Normans, Crusaders, and Ottomans. Byzantium’s successive crises and resurgences provide a
powerful case study of the adaptive capacity of empires and highlight the social, political, and
ideological resources that allowed it to outlive the Roman Empire in the West by nearly a
thousand years.
Drawing on the growing literature theorizing the adaptive capacity of states, this course explores
the factors behind the exceptional resilience and adaptability of Byzantium that allowed it to
navigate these challenges successfully. Beginning with Constantine the Great’s efforts to
reconstitute the empire in the 4th century, all the way to the Ottoman conquest of the city in the
15th c., the course will examine the state’s fundamental institutions—its government, economy, military, and religion. Traversing Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, we consider the role of
fortifications, monetary supply, theological innovations, court protocol, and depth of
administration to understand how the empire used hard and soft power—military campaigns,
religious missions, and deft diplomacy—to respond and adapt to the external challenges. An
object-handling session at the nearby Dumbarton Oaks Museum—housing one of the finest
Byzantine collections in the world—will offer a unique opportunity to examine firsthand the
artifacts still bearing witness to Byzantium’s soft power.

Classics: Latin (Fall 2024)

CLSL 1011 Latin I  (Andrew Merritt)

This is an intensive introduction to the Latin language. By the end of the year, students will have been introduced to all basic Latin morphology and syntax and will be able to read texts in the original with the aid of a dictionary. Unabridged selections from works by Julius Caesar and the poet Catullus are studied in the spring semester.

CLSL 1511 Intermediate Latin  (Josiah Osgood)

Intermediate Latin is intended for students who have successfully completed Latin II at Georgetown or have otherwise acquired the ability to read Latin texts in the original, with a good basic knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. While these same elements (vocabulary, morphology, syntax) will be constantly reviewed and constitute an essential part of home and class work, a new stress will be increasingly posed on matters related to literary genres, poetic diction, rhetoric, meter, etc. In fact, students will be introduced to handling Latin literature directly, and especially through the study of those very authors that represent the basis for virtually all grammatical notions and abstractions so far learned, i.e. Cicero and Virgil. Satisfies COL language requirement.

CLSL 2042 Livy (Charles McNelis)

Livy’s massive Ab urbe condita covered the history of Rome from its foundation to the time of
Augustus. Of the 142 books that he wrote, 35 survive in more or less complete fashion. This
class will read Book 1. The first book contains many famous stories (Romulus and Remus, the
rape of the Sabine Women, the rape of Lucretia, the Horatii and Curiatii) of Rome’s early history
and the transition from the so-called regal period to a republican form of government. While the
course will explore the historical and cultural contexts for the events told by Livy, we will
constantly focus and concentrate on Livy’s particular style of Latin, as well as the techniques that
underlie his historical account. Students will develop a strong understanding of Livy’s handling
of elements of historical prose (e.g. the arrangement of time, the idea of truth) as well as of his
depiction of topics such as religion, sexuality, the family, and the role of the individual within the
broader community.

CLSL 2049 Ovid (Justin Haynes)

Ovid is undoubtedly one of the best-known ancient Roman poets today, but at many times in the
past he was a household name as famous as any of today’s pop stars. In the late Middle Ages,
people would call him simply “the poet”—much as “the philosopher” meant Aristotle. This
course will take as its centerpiece selections from Ovid’s epic, the Metamorphoses, possibly the
most influential collection of Greco-Roman myths ever written, but we will also read poems that
show different aspects of the author whose name was sometimes synonymous with “love” and
whose fame inspired a host of imitators and impersonators from antiquity to the present day. All
texts will be read in the original Latin.

Classics: Ancient Greek (Fall 2024)

CLSG 1011 Ancient Greek I  (Alexander Sens)

Greek 1011 is the first half of Georgetown’s year-long introduction to the Ancient Greek
language, which is meant to instruct students to read Greek texts through an intensive study of
morphology and syntax. During the course, students will be guided through the normative
grammar of Attic Greek. By the end of the second semester, we will have completed all 20 units
of Hansen and Quinn’s Greek: An Intensive Course as well as selections from the Attic orator
Lysias. By the end of the year, after taking CLSG 1011 and 1012, students will have been
introduced to all basic Greek syntax and grammar and will be able to read texts by Homer, Euripides, Plato and others in the original, with the aid of a dictionary.

CLSG 1511 Intermediate Ancient Greek  (Claire Catenaccio)

This course will consolidate students’ knowledge of Ancient Greek grammar and syntax, as well as introducing them to Attic literature through two of its most brilliant and influential authors, Plato and Euripides. This course is suitable for students who have taken two semesters of Ancient Greek at the college level, or have permission of the instructor. Satisfies COL language requirement.

CLSG 2000 Advanced Greek: Homer Iliad  (Andrew Merritt)

For advanced students of ancient Greek. Students will read selected books of Homer’s Iliad and
engage with this archaic poem on numerous levels: the Homeric dialect and the performative
pressures from which it emerged, the heroic themes and poetics of the poem; the archaic dactylic
hexameter; and significant threads in modern scholarship on Homeric epic.