CLASS-205 Cleopatra: The Not Humble Woman
In this course Cleopatra will be considered both as a political figure of importance in her own right and also as an enemy queen, representing a presumptuous challenge to the political hegemony and cultural values of the Romans. She may serve, therefore, as a lens through which one may view social and political tensions within Roman society over the nature of authority and empire. Readings include Vergil, Horace, Propertius, Lucan, Caesar, Sallust, Plutarch and the plays of Shakespeare and Shaw, where she is ambivalently portrayed as a woman who desires power or, contrariwise, as a romantic idealist who scorns temporal powers in fulfillment of private desires.
CLASS-211 Gods and Mortals: Ancient Greek and Roman Myth
We will accompany Odysseus on his return from Troy, retrieve the Golden Fleece with Jason, and race with Ovid through his witty -- and often troubling -- retelling of Greek myths from a Roman perspective. This course examines how Greek and Roman authors and artists from very different periods used myth to explore questions about life, art and politics. Works may include: Homer, Odyssey; Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica; Ovid, Metamorphoses and Heroides; Greek tragedy, and ancient images representing myths.
CLASS-212 Greek Tragedy, American Drama, and Film
The Greeks, beginning with Homer, saw the world from an essentially tragic perspective. The searing question of why human societies and the human psyche repeatedly break down in tragic ruin and loss, particularly in the conflicts of war and in the betrayal of personal bonds of love and friendship, fascinated them as it still does us. The most consistent themes that emerged from such examination are the tragedy of self-knowledge and illusion, the tragedy of desire, the tragedy of crime and redemption, and tragedy as a protest against social injustice. This course examines the critical influence of the three most important Athenian dramatists, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, on the works of Nobel winner Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and important filmmakers, who have tried to recreate the powerful atmosphere and impact of the Greek tragic theater or reworked the tragic themes of classical myth for their own purposes in the modern age.
CLASS-226 Bread and Circuses: The Politics of Public Entertainment in Ancient Rome
Bread and circuses (panem et circenses) was a catchphrase in the Roman empire that described the political strategy of controlling an unruly populace through free bread and public entertainment. Against a backdrop of Roman social and political institutions, this course focuses on the imperial ideology, aristocratic ethos, and cultural practices that underpinned this catchphrase, as well as questions concerning the careers of entertainers--gladiators, charioteers, and actors--who were at once celebrities and social outcasts; the rules of spectatorship at the games; the use of these games as a form of social control; and the logistics of feeding the city population.
CLASS-227 Ancient Greece
This course will trace the emergence and expansion of Greek civilization in the Mediterranean between the Bronze Age and Alexander the Great. Among themes to be explored are political structures, trade, slavery, gender relations, and religion, as well as the contributions of ancient Greeks to literary genres (drama, rhetoric, historiography, philosophy) and to the visual arts. Throughout we will consider how the history of the ancient Greeks can speak to modern concerns. Sources will include works of ancient Greek literature and history (e.g., Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristophanes, Plutarch) as well as archaeological and epigraphic evidence.
CLASS-228 Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome and its empire can be viewed both as a measure of human achievement and a cautionary tale of the corrupting effects of unbridled power. This course covers the history of Ancient Rome from its mythologized beginnings (753 BCE) to the rise and spread of Christianity under the Emperor Constantine (312 CE). Topics include the creation and development of Rome's republican form of government as well as its eventual transition to monarchy, the causes and consequences of the acquisition of empire, the role of the army in administering the provinces and defending the frontiers, the image of emperor, the economy, and religion.
CLASS-229 The Tyrant and Gladiator: Bad Roman Emperors from Caligula to Commodus
Caligula was a god (or so he thought); Nero fiddled while Rome burned; Commodus dressed as a gladiator and fought man and beast in the arena. The history of the Roman empire is replete with scandalous stories about eccentric and even insane emperors whose reigns raise questions about the nature of the emperor's power and his role in administering the empire. In this course a close study of Roman imperial biography and historiography--the source of so many of these stories of bad emperors--will be weighed against documentary and archaeological evidence in order to reveal the dynamic between the emperor, his court, and his subjects that was fundamental to the political culture of imperial Rome.
CLASS-239 Topics in Classics
CLASS-239PE Topics in Classics: 'Pompeii and the Archaeology of Daily Life in the Roman World'
In 79 CE, the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, preserving them for future rediscovery. This course examines the unparalleled evidence for Roman daily life that archaeologists have uncovered at these sites since the start of excavation in the 1700s -- including everything from public art and architecture to domestic spaces, farms, tombs, shops, graffiti, and even sewers. Through a thorough exploration of these sites, we will consider how individuals lived, worked, and died in the Roman world, and how the study of archaeology and the ancient world has evolved since the earliest excavations.
CLASS-242 Sicily: Crossroads of the Mediterranean
Its long history as the locus of collisions among cultures -- Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman, Spanish, and (northern) Italian -- has earned Sicily a special place in Mediterranean studies. One product of these clashes is that for millennia Sicilians have confronted questions of identity. More recently, because of immigration waves from North Africa, Sicily is once again at the center of the Mediterranean cultural debate. This course will cover almost three thousand years of Sicilian life, as we explore the role of material culture and literature in shaping Sicilian identities. Readings (with related films) may include selections from such authors as Virgil, and Ovid; Ibn Hawkal and Al-Idrisi; Lampedusa, Pirandello, Giordana, and Maraini.
CLASS-253 The Spartans: Myth and History
In contrast to democratic Athens, oligarchic Sparta was renowned for its secrecy and skillful use of propaganda. Thus, it presents difficult challenges for historical study. In this course we will try to peer behind the "Spartan mirage" to determine how much the Spartans really differed from other ancient Greeks. We will then try to understand the use of Spartans as models for later polities and for groups like the Nazis and Alt-right. Topics: government, education, and citizenship; the role of women, eugenics, and slavery; the use and misuse of the image of Sparta. Readings will include Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Plutarch, and modern scholarship on specific topics.
CLASS-260 Knowing God
This course examines the following key texts from the ancient world that treat significantly the problem of knowing God and the mystery enveloping such knowledge: Sophocles' Oedipus the King, Plato's Phaedo, Cicero's Concerning the Nature of the Gods, Job, Paul's Epistle to the Romans, and others. Attention is also given to the different ways of thinking about the divine and human natures in these works, which are broadly reflective of Graeco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian value systems.
CLASS-295 Independent Study
CLASS-395 Independent Study