Spring 2022 Courses
Classical Studies (Spring 2022)
CLSS 110: Intro to Greek Art & Archaeology
This course offers both a chronological survey of ancient Greek material culture and an introduction to the methods of discovery and analysis employed by Classical (Greek and Roman) archaeologists. Most class meetings will focus on the major monuments, archaeological sites, art works, and other artifacts of the ancient Greek world from Bronze Age prehistory through to the Archaic (ca. 600-480 B.C.), Classical (ca. 480-323 B.C.), and Hellenistic (ca. 323-30 B.C.) periods. In addition to considering major sites such as Knossos, Mycenae, Athens, Delphi, and Olympia, we will trace the development of Greek architecture, sculpture, city planning, painting, and other art forms over time.
We will also consider the nature of the archaeological evidence for the ancient Greeks and the relationship of Classical archaeology to other disciplines such as art history, history, and the classical languages. Midterm and final examinations will be based upon slides seen in class and available through Powerpoint presentations; students will research and write two short papers.
CLSS 160: Intro to Roman Literature
A survey of ancient Latin literature from the late republic and early empire (c. 200 BCE – 150 CE) and its reception. Authors such as Caesar, Livy, Horace, Ovid, and Apuleius will be covered in detail, focusing on themes such as religion, gender and politics in light of artistic strategies. A major topic of the course will be the profound importance of Vergil’s Aeneid: we will study the poem itself, its literary background, and then consider subsequent reactions to and interpretations of it, and what those points reveal about Roman literary strategies and thought. In the process, we will pay attention to formal aspects of the works that are common to so much literature.
CLSS 206: Shakespeare and the Classics
This course investigates Shakespeare’s lifelong engagement with the literatures and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. We will give careful attention to six plays – Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Merchant of Venice, Coriolanus, and Cymbeline – as well as considering the larger role of classical antiquity in Shakespeare’s development and achievement as a poet and dramatist. How did Shakespeare adapt his sources to explore the most urgent social, political, and aesthetic questions of his own era? The class includes film screenings, tickets to a live performance of Merchant of Venice at the Shakespeare Theater Company, and a visit to the Georgetown Rare Books Collection.
CLSS 218: Egyptomania
D.C. lives under the shadow of an “Egyptian” obelisk made in America. Why? What did ancient Egypt signify to nineteenth-century Americans? What social, historical, and political factors shaped their cultural taste? To understand D.C.’s Egyptomania, we will first examine the long history of Greeks and Romans exploring, representing, conquering, and appropriating Egypt, from Archaic Greece to Ptolemaic Egypt to the Roman empire. The literary and material culture we investigate will then inform our study of local sites including the Washington Monument, Library of Congress, House of the Temple, and Freer-Sackler Gallery. Class visits will take place, health guidance permitting.
CLSS 223: Roman Sexuality
Our understanding of any society is enhanced by an awareness of how it thinks about sexuality. The sexual act itself is often categorized in polar terms — such as “(un)natural” or “culturally constructed” — that reveal much about a society’s political, religious, and moral codes. Ancient Rome was no different. This course will examine ways in which ancient Roman society slotted sexual behavior into several categories, and/or used (or did not use) these extreme polarities as a way to formulate codes of social and sexual behavior. By the end of the source, students will have a clearer understanding of large dynamics of ancient Roman culture, and perhaps even of their own world.
This course will involve explicit language and content. If such material will make you uncomfortable, this course will not be for you. On the other hand, this is an academic pursuit, and as such students will be expected to frame their discussions and papers in ways that reflect an appropriate level of scholarly discourse.
CLSS 260: Gods and Heroes: Archaic Greek Literature
Students read Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, as well as other examples of epic poetry about heroes and gods, such as Hesiod’s Theogony and the Homeric Hymns, that are part of an oral tradition. Through reading this early poetry, students are introduced to an archaic understanding of immortality and to fundamental narrative structures, especially anger, withdrawal, mourning, the journey and return, and epiphany. We also consider a fundamental dichotomy within the epic oral tradition: the trauma of a “beautiful death,” which permeates the Iliad, and the dangers of return, which infuse the Odyssey. Why was it that violence, both physical and psychic, undergirded great heroic poetry? Students also study the nature of an oral tradition: what does it means to say a poem is “oral” and “traditional”? What are the poetics of oral poetry: how is it composed and what makes the poet’s job easy or hard? These oldest poetic narratives in the western tradition powerfully influenced later literary and historical genres and continue to move readers as different as contemplatives wishing to know the roots of their intellectual heritage, poets and writers tackling the journey as an adventure of the human spirit, and soldiers traumatized by their experiences in war and return.
CLSS 306: Cicero and the Roman Courts
In 64 BC Marcus Tullius Cicero was elected consul of Rome, the first man in a generation to hold the office who was not from Rome’s hereditary ruling class. Representing influential Romans in both civil and criminal cases, Cicero owed his unusual political success to his skills as a lawyer. In this seminar we study together the surviving transcripts of Cicero’s speeches to reconstruct how the courts of Rome worked. Attention will also be paid to the prominence of public speaking in the Roman Republic and the value of Cicero’s speeches and letters as a source for political history and thought. In addition to participating in weekly discussions students develop and execute an original research project that draws on Cicero’s writings.
Classics: Latin (Spring 2022)
CLSL 002: Latin II
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 244: Tacitus
Tacitus’ Annals are a masterly study of politics, power and corruption in first century AD Rome, with the institution of the principate as their focal point. This course will cover the opening 15 chapters of his great work and then turn to episodes that focus on the infamous emperor Nero (e.g. 12.41-69; 13.1-30; 14.1-28; 15.33-47), including his rise to power, the murders he perpetrated (including that of his mother), and the execution of Christians. These sections of Tacitus’ narrative concern important issues such as imperial succession, the nature of history, the role of a leader in relation to his larger community, and all sorts of reflections upon Roman culture and civilization. Particular emphasis will be placed upon Tacitus’ style and its relation to earlier Latin prose authors as well as the artistry of the historian in constructing his account.
Students will develop a strong understanding of Tacitus’ handling of topics such as religion, sexuality, and the family; most of all, their command of Latin will greatly improve.
CLSL 251: Horace: Satires and Epistles
The Roman poet Horace (65 – 8 BC) presents many of his most probing, scathing, and hilarious reflections on poetry and society in his Satires and Epistles. The most distinctive feature of these poems is the vivid self-exploration of the poet himself, a figure carefully crafted from literary and philosophical precedents. The Satires and Epistles offer an extended meditation on freedom and dependency in Roman literature, politics, and daily life at the transition from Republic to Empire. In this course, we will read a selection of these poems, with attention to genre, style, diction, and meter.
Classics: Greek (Spring 2022)
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.
CLSG 226: Tragic Heracles
For students of advanced Greek only, this course examines the three ancient tragedies with Heracles, the greatest of all Greek heroes, as a major character: Sophocles’ Trachiniae (Womenof Trachis), Euripides’ Alcestis and Heracles Mainomenos (Heracles in Madness). Students read Trachiniae and Alcestis in the original and study Heracles Mainomenos in English. Each of these tragedies dramatizes the hero’s confrontation with death, but from very different perspectives, and it is through these differences that we examine how Sophocles and Euripides dramatize questions of life and death.
These plays offer students an opportunity, while improving their ability to read ancient poetic Greek, to learn how to interpret tragedy in its cultural setting, the fifth-century Athenian polis. We study fundamental technical aspects of the ancient Greek tragic genre, including its highly refined poetic language and its stichic meters as well as the stylized structure of an ancient tragedy with its lyric choruses. By reading significant works of modern scholarship relevant to all three plays, students gain an understanding of the most important interpretive issues surrounding each play.
CLSG 292: Longus: Daphnis and Chloe
“In Lesbos while hunting, in a grove of the Nymphs I saw a sight, the most beautiful of those I saw: a painting of a picture, a history of love.” So begins Longus’ novel Daphnis and Chloe about a boy and girl raised by shepherds who fall, unknowingly, into lovesickness.
In this course for advanced students of ancient Greek, we will read Longus’ four-book novel in Greek alongside selections of texts to which he alludes, including by Sappho, Plato, and Theocritus. Topics to be discussed include allusion and intertextuality, ecphrasis, the nature-culture dichotomy, and the relationship of sexuality and violence.