Fall 2017 Courses

Classical Studies (Fall 2017)

CLSS-130-01 History of Ancient Greece  (Catherine Keesling)

In this course we will study ancient Greek history from the 8th century B.C. 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-170-01 Intro to Classical Myth  (Victoria Pedrick)

This course surveys the major traditional myths of the ancient Greeks and considers briefly the role of myth among the Romans. Students will examine the uses and meaning of myth within the contexts of ancient culture and study modern critical theories for interpreting them. In class lectures and discussion are used; classwork is supplemented by formal discussion of theoretical essays in Blackboard. Upon finishing this course students will: 

  • know the genealogies, major stories, and thematic significance of the Greek Olympians as well as their Roman counterparts;
  • know the major cycles of heroic myth as well as the thematic significance of individual stories;
  • be acquainted with major theoretical approaches to the study of myth itself;
  • demonstrate an ability willingness to participate in a cordial, constructive, and effective way in online discussions;
  • learn how to write a short summary and analysis of the ideas and interpretations of fellow students as well as interpret the essay under discussion.

CLSS-240 Julius Caesar: History and Legend  (Josiah Osgood)

An introduction to the historical figure of Julius Caesar and the stories and debates surrounding the man, in his own lifetime and beyond. We examine his early successes in politics, while also exploring the problems facing the Roman Republic; then look at Caesar’s campaigns in Gaul and the horrific civil war that followed, both of which he recounted in his own spellbinding prose; and finally consider his last years as dictator and his assassination.  Was Caesar to blame for the Republic’s fall?  Or was he the statesman who saw more clearly than any other that the Roman empire had to take a new shape?  Classes are mostly discussions, focusing on the ancient evidence as well as classic works by modern historians of Rome.

CLSS-251-01 Ovid’s Metamorphoses  (Rachel Philbrick)

Ovid’s epic poem, which chronicles the history of the world through stories of metamorphosis, has been one of the most influential texts written in Latin. Like its subject matter, it is a poem that is protean and difficult to pin down, defying any single interpretation. For this reason it has inspired a wide range of artists, writers, and thinkers ever since its publication in the first years of the Roman Empire. The first part of this course will be dedicated to the close reading of the whole Metamorphoses, with particular attention to its place within the tradition of Greek and Latin epic poetry. The second part will focus on some of the many responses this poem has inspired, including its influence on the visual arts, the way it has shaped our modern understanding of myth, and its conscription into contemporary societal debates.

CLSS 284-01 Athletes and Heroes  (Charles McNelis)

This course will be a cultural history of Greece and Rome through the lens of athletic competition.  Sports were fundamental to ancient thought about mythology, religion, warfare, politics, and even the very structure of the calendar.  The course will examine events that took place at religious sites such as Olympia from early periods of Greek history to the ‘fall’ of Rome, and will consider how athletics illuminate, for example, political changes and the role of the athlete as a hero for his (and her) local community.  Attention will be paid to actual competitions, but the focus of the course will be on a range of historical and philosophical sources as well as the writings of brilliant poets such as Pindar.  Students will leave the course with an enhanced understanding of broad aspects of ancient literature, history, and culture.

CLSS 452-01 Pompeii  (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.

Classics: Latin (Fall 2017)

CLSL-001 Latin I  (Marden Nichols)

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.

CLSG-101 Intermediate Latin  (Sandro La Barbera)

Intermediate Latin is intended for students who have successfully completed Latin I 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. 

CLSL-242-01 Livy  (Rachel Philbrick)

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 two highlights, Book 1 and Book 21.  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.  Book 21 covers the wars with Hannibal, Rome’s great foe, during the 2nd Punic War.  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-310-01 Vergil  (Sandro La Barbera)

Treating myths, mistresses, leisure, and love, elegy flourished in Rome from the late Republic through the reign of Augustus, and the poetry created during this period was so esteemed that one Roman rhetorician could write, “In elegy, we rival the Greeks.” In this class, we will explore the development and the major themes of the genre through the works of two Latin elegists, Tibullus and Ovid. Tibullus, who wrote one of the earliest complete books of Roman love elegy to survive, was regarded by many as the finest elegist, while Ovid, who began his career writing love elegy like Tibullus, ended it in exile, where he reworked many of the genre’s traditional elements in his book of “Laments” (Tristia). We will consider questions such as: How do elegists balance working within a tradition with innovation and personal style? To what extent is this emotional poetry? How did elegy interact with other genres of Latin poetry? 

Classics: Greek (Fall 2017)

CLSG-001 Ancient Greek I  (Rachel Philbrick)

This is an intensive introduction to the ancient Greek language. By the end of the year, students will have been introduced to all basic Attic Greek syntax and grammar and will be able to read texts in the original, with the aid of a dictionary.

CLSG-101 Intermediate Ancient Greek  (Catherine Keesling)

Students read Plato’s Apology, which represents Socrates’ speech at his trial for impiety, and Euripides’ Medea. The Apology introduces the concentrated prose of philosophic argument in the novel setting of a forensic speech. Students also study the historical context of the trial itself: the defeat of Athens, the reign and fall of the Thirty, and the restoration of democracy. With the Medea, students turn to the poetry of Attic tragedy, and become become familiar with the structures of ancient tragedy as well as the dramatic festivals of Athens as the setting for tragic productions. By the end of this course students will: 

  • Read Plato’s Apology and Euripides’ Medea
  • Demonstrate control of Greek morphology and syntax;
  • Acquire vocabulary necessary to read central Attic poetic and prose texts;
  • Develop proficiency in translating at sight Greek poetry and prose;
  • Learn about Greek prosody and understand Greek verse structures, including the iambic trimeter;
  • Acquire an awareness of the differences between the Attic and Doric dialects, as featured in tragedy.

CLSG-280-01 Plato  (Victoria Pedrick)

Intended for advanced ancient Greek students, this course introduces one of Plato’s most literary and entertaining dialogues, The Symposium, which also treats philosophical matters fundamental to his entire enterprise: the character of the ideal, whether beauty or goodness; the philosopher’s task in seeking the ideal; and the nature of knowledge.  Plato sets his reflections in a peculiarly precise and provocative setting—a dinner party celebrating the tragic victory of Agathon in 416 that is attended by the intellectual, social, and political luminaries of Athens on the brink of its greatest and most deeply flawed military enterprise, the campaign against Syracuse.  Reading this text thus gives students the opportunity to read Attic philosophy but also to learn about the symposium itself as a pivotal social event in the lives of Athenian men.