Classical Studies (Spring 2017)
CLSS 160: Introduction to Roman Literature
La Barbera, Sandro
This class is meant to introduce students of all backgrounds to the canon of Latin literature produced from the 3rd century BC to the 2nd century AD, i.e. from its very beginning to the imperial age, through the so-called ‘Classical’ period. Students will read the English translation of many of the texts produced in those five centuries, which span across multiple genres (comedy, epic, elegy, tragedy, didactic, novel etc.) and pose a plurality of intellectual questions. Recurring themes on which students will focus include gods and religion, politics and society, private relationships, the role of intellectuals in society, genres and readerships, and more. The more immediate goal is a specific understanding of the Roman world and the role of literature and artists in antiquity. However, the discussion of more general issues emerging from classical texts will provide a key to access a subtler reading of Western literature in any language and up to our days.
CLSS-217: Greek Sexuality
“I desire you!” What did these words mean to the ancient Greeks, both in terms of physical acts of sex and in terms of the emotion and sense of possession that are also part of the experience? What was the etiquette of desire and how did the rules of this game map onto other social structures, such as marriage, friendship, service to the state, or even warfare? When the ancient Greeks looked at the human body, what struck them as desirable? What struck them masculine or feminine—what we might call today gender codes? What were other social, religious and moral codes that informed the ancient Greek construction of sexuality? This course studies such questions in the belief that sexuality is an excellent window into ancient Greek culture—a means for understanding how the Greeks thought about themselves in relation to others. And we pursue these questions through readings and material objects drawn from all periods of Greek history, including the early Archaic poems of Homer, to the philosophic and theoretical meditations on desire of the Classical period, to the Hellenistic poetry and medical writings. We also study modern theory of sexuality and gender.
This course involves explicit material and language, and if you are uncomfortable with such content, this is not the course for you. We treat this material, however, in an academic manner, and students are expected to frame discussions and papers with appropriate scholarly discourse.
CLSS-226: The Greek City: Politics & Society
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-266: The Legacy of Alexander the Great
This course is a study of impact of the life and campaigns of Alexander the Great on the cultural production of the period that followed his death. It begins with a survey of Alexander’s life and the complexities posed by the sources for it. The bulk of the class will focus on the way in which the art and literature of the period that followed his death (the so-called Hellenistic period) responded to and engaged the political, social, and cultural changes wrought by his campaigns. Topics will include, among others, the tension between cultural continuity and change; the representation of the ruler and his relationship to the gods; artists’ engagement with inherited generic conventions; and the treatment of (the nature of) heroism. Students will read the complete corpora of poets like Apollonius of Rhodes, Callimachus, and Theocritus, as well as select passages of Aratus, Lycophron, and others; some works of late Classical and Hellenistic philosophy, including selections of Aristotole and Epicurus; and a series of philosophical texts. Some attention will also be paid to the plastic and graphic arts.
CLSS-283: Travel and Exploration in Antiquity
Travel in the ancient world was a problem: travel by land was tedious and dangerous, and travel by sea took somewhat less time but was even more dangerous. The original traveler and explorer, Odysseus, demonstrates just how hard it could be to get where you were going. But he also represents how the world could be opened up through exploration, as he encounters new lands and different societies. In addition to the Odyssey, we will read Herodotus’s Histories, built upon the author’s travels within Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and accounts of travel and exploration during the campaigns of Alexander the Great and under the Roman Empire.
Classics: Latin (Spring 2017)
CLSL-002 Latin 2
Latin II is the second course in the two-semester set of First Year Latin. In this second half, students will read Latin from original texts written in both prose and poetry. In particular, for prose, Caesar’s Commentarii de bello Gallico, Book 1, will provide us with both textbook grammar cases and an overview of Rome’s foreign policy in the first century BC. For poetry, we will read a selection from the poems written by Catullus, the first lyric and elegiac Roman poet whose work was transmitted to us (almost) completely; as a condition for, and a function of, reading verse, students will be also introduced to classical metrics (especially stichic hexameter, elegiac couplet, and hendecasyllable). Caesar, Bellum Gallicum 1, will be read from Ewan’s edition for Bristol Classical Press; Catullus from Garrison’s anthology The Student’s Catullus (Oklahoma); both books are available at the GU’s bookshop.
CLSL-235: Latin Letters
Are letters literature? We will pursue this question as we read the correspondence of two important Roman public figures, Cicero (106-43 BCE) and Pliny the Younger (c. 61-c. 112 CE). Collections of each man’s correspondence were carefully crafted and published in antiquity, either during his lifetime or shortly after his death. We will consider when, why, and how these letters might be read by others than their addressee, and what we can learn from them about ancient Roman culture, friendship, politics, and literature.
CLSL-308: Vergil's Eclogues and Georgics
La Barbera, Sandro
This class, a complement to the semester-long course on the Aeneid (CLSL 310), is devoted to continuous reading of Vergil’s early works, the Eclogues and Georgics. The Eclogues are a collection of ten bucolic poems representing an ideal countryside where shepherds and other rustic figures dialogue in hexameters; under the pretense of pastoral simplicity, a rich poetic diction and a complex system of values are summoned to discuss matters ranging from love to politics, from sorrow to the relevance of literature for life. The Georgics are four books of didactic poetry, i.e. a genre meant to teach the readers a specific discipline – in this case, farming. Despite the apparently prosaic subject, the poem subtly deals with important questions of ethics, politics, and intellectual history, and does so with ample use of literary devices such as the tale of Orpheus in the Underworld, which has inspired many later authors in the history of European arts. Finally, a quick look will be given at some of the texts that, after Vergil’s death, were wrongly attributed to him but which represented Vergil’s earliest works for centuries after his death.
Classics: Greek (Spring 2017)
CLSG-002: Ancient Greek 2
A continued intensive introduction to the ancient Greek language with primary emphasis on the acquisition of reading skills. Drills in grammar and syntax. Programmed reading selections from a variety of ancient authors.
Herodotus’ history of the Persian Wars of the fifth century B.C. is epic in scale, and its style is unforgettable. In this course, we will read in Greek substantial selections from the Histories, focusing first on Croesus of Lydia and Cyrus, the founder of the Persian empire, in Book 1. After reading short selections from Books 2 (history and ethnography of Egypt) and 3, we will proceed to the battle of Marathon and Xerxes’ expedition against Greece. We will consider the text of Herodotus as a whole in English translation. Students will write short papers on topics of their own choice in addition to quizzes and a final exam on translation.
CLSG-400: Advanced Greek: Homer's Iliad
For advanced students of Greek only. Students read selected books of Homer’s Iliad and engage 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.