Classical Civilization

Spring 2019

Greek and Roman Mythology

CLAS 10200
Prof. A. Tagliabue
MW 10:30-11:20

Do gods care about humans? Can the will of gods be understood? Is it worth fighting for one’s homeland and giving one’s life for the good of the community? What is true love – lust, friendship or marital love? How was the world created?
In Ancient Greece and Rome it is through myth that humans found fascinating and complex answers to all these questions.
What is myth? A collection of traditional stories about the life of ancient gods, heroes, humans and monsters. This class will explore the most important ancient Greek and Roman myths by reading poems, tragedies, novels and philosophical dialogues. Among others, we will consider Hesiod’s Myth of the Ages, the tragic stories of Prometheus and Medea, and Plato’s myths of the Cave and the civilization of Atlantis.
When discussing ancient myths, we will engage in close analysis of the structural components of the selected literary works, focusing especially on how ancient Greeks and Romans intensely related myths to their own historical and cultural concerns. For example, we will explore how Euripides’ Trojan Women, with its reflection on the dramatic costs of war, cannot be understood but in the context of the imminent fall of Athenian democracy.
Since ancient myth is still relevant to our society, the discussion of ancient texts will be combined with a focus on modern or contemporary echoes of the same myths, starting from Freud’s Oedipus complex and the modern use of Prometheus as a metaphor for scientific progress. Furthermore, the final weeks of this class will be dedicated to Native-American Myths and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, a twentieth-century masterpiece which combines Greek with Celtic, Persian and Christian mythology.

Discussion Sections
CLAS 12200 01-04
F 10:30-11:20

History of Liberal Education- Canceled 

CLAS 20010
Prof. M. Bloomer
MW 12:50-1:40

This class examines the practices of schooling from its foundational period and institutions in ancient Greece through transformations in the Roman empire and onto the variety of schooling in the middle ages, which not only "transmitted" the seven liberal arts but developed new institutions, ideas, and movements for education. We shall examine both prescriptions (what Plato or Quintilian or John Dewey said should be done) and actual practices of schooling children. We shall also study, selectively and as comparisons, periods and movements of reform, in the Middle Ages,  Renaissance and the Enlightenment, with some attention to twentieth-century America. The processes of learning to read and write, curricular studies, corporal punishment and motivation more broadly, the materials and setting of schooling, and the social dynamics of the communities of educators and the educated will be topics of recurring interest.

Discussion Sections
CLAS 22010 01-03
F 1:40-2:30

The Age of Alexander

CLAS 30112
Prof. C. Baron
TR 12:30-1:45

This course examines the military achievements of Alexander of Macedon (356-323 B.C.) and their far-reaching political, social, cultural, and religious consequences.  Topics covered include the Greek, Macedonian, Persian, and other cultural contexts of the time, Alexander's attitude toward divinity (including his own), his concept of empire, his generalship, and his legacy for Greco-Roman antiquity.  Particular attention is devoted to representations of Alexander through the ages, beginning during his own lifetime with the accounts of ancient writers-historians and others—down to novels and films of the present day.  Ancient authors and documents are read in translation.

Roman Criminal Law

CLAS 30211
Prof. T. Mazurek
MWF 10:30-11:20

Perhaps our greatest inheritance from the ancient Romans is their law code and legal procedures. Students will study the development of Roman criminal law from the 12 Tables to the late antique period, including the emergence of jury courts and the persecution of Christians and heretics. By studying primary sources like Cicero¿s speeches and laws etched in bronze tablets, students will explore the seedy side of Roman life. Topics for discussion include murder, sorcery, bribery, forgery, treason, extortion and adultery. This course will not duplicate, but complement, Roman Law and Governance (CLAS 30210).

Perilous Frontiers of Rome and China

CLAS 30228
Prof. R. Ford
MW 3:30-4:45

In the process of their formation and expansion, the empires of Rome and China came into contact with diverse societies along their borders, some of whom were able to be persuaded or forced to accept Roman or Chinese rule. Others, however, resisted the forces of imperial expansion, conquest, and assimilation. This course will concentrate on the latter group and the frontier zones along which peace and war were in constant vacillation. Rather than stark lines of demarcation, these zones were areas of frequent economic and cultural exchange along which political, social, and ethnic identities could be negotiated, transformed, and even created. This course will take a comparative approach to the study of imperial expansion and its strategies while also examining the effects of political and economic policies on the peoples inhabiting the periphery. While identifying their many shared attributes, it will attempt to isolate and characterize particular features of these two imperial experiences and their political ideologies. Moreover, it will examine the analogous processes of identity formation that occurred amongst the nomadic and sedentary peoples who surrounded the imperial frontiers and discuss the ways in which these peoples were not passive objects of Roman and Chinese imperialism but crucial participants in the historical trajectories of either empire.

Origins of Medical Terminology

CLAS 30330
Prof. A. Pistone
MW 9:30-10:45

This course offers an introduction to the ancient Greek and Latin languages that enables students to decipher the arcane and often perplexing vocabulary of modern medicine.  Basic linguistic concepts are explained, the manner in which medical terms are constructed from Greek and Latin roots is analyzed, and appropriate contextual material on ancient medicine is provided.  This is a course of great practical value, not least for the attention it pays to human anatomy.

Archaeology of the Roman Empire

CLAS 30352
Prof. D. Hernandez
MW 12:30-1:45

The course examines the archaeology of the Roman Empire, from the time of Rome’s domination of the Mediterranean in the 2nd century B.C. to its Christianization in the 4th century A.D. Students will analyze and interpret material evidence from the ancient Roman world, from both Italy and the provinces, in order to assess the multi-faceted histories and cultures of the Roman people. In addition to examining a wide range of material remains, such as ceramics, architecture, coins, inscriptions, sculpture, art, and other artifacts, students will also consider the methods, results, and theory of archaeological research, specifically in the areas of field excavation and intensive surface survey. Major topics that will be discussed in the course include Roman imperialism, colonization, political institutions, urbanism, the countryside, religion and the imperial cult, death and burial, the economy, trade, and society.

Words and/of Power: The Theory and Practice of Persuasive Speech in Greece and Rome

CLAS 30360/60660
Prof. B. Krostenko
TR 2:00-3:15

Rhetoric occupied a prominent place in the democracy of the Athenians and in the republican era of Roman history.  This course examines the theory, practice and context of ancient rhetoric, and pays special attention to developments caused by radical changes in the political character of the Athenian and Roman civic communities. Representative readings from Greek and Roman orators and writers on rhetorical theory.

Owning the Past: The Use and Misuse of Archaeology and Material Culture

CSEM 23102
Prof. D. Hernandez
MW 9:30-10:45

“Who controls the past controls the future… Who controls the present controls the past.” This observation, famously written by George Orwell in 1984, encapsulates the theme of this interdisciplinary seminar. The course explores how the past has been (mis)represented to serve the present interests of people, institutions, and governments, primarily on the basis of art, archaeology, and material culture. The survey of this material stretches over two thousand years, from classical antiquity to the present. The class will learn how art in ancient Athens was used to redefine history in the birth of democracy, how ancestry and divine lineage were exploited to create the Roman Empire, and how monuments and buildings, including St. Peter’s Basilica, utilized the past to establish the Christian Roman Empire. The class will also debate how archaeology and material culture have been deployed more recently to bolster nationalist, colonialist, totalitarian, and democratic ideologies. In particular, the role of archaeology will be examined in the nationalist agendas of Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and communist Albania. Other relevant topics discussed in the course include treasure hunting, tourism, connoisseurship, private collections, museum holdings, cultural heritage management, and the repatriation of monuments and human remains. The seminar is structured primarily to enhance students’ oral expression through dialogue, debate, in-class presentations, and open discussion.


Fall 2018 Courses

Ancient Greece and Rome

CLAS 10100 01 (Cross-listed with HIST 10210 and CNST 10600)

Prof. T. Mazurek

MW 9:25-10:15, 3 credit hours

Fulfills History Requirement

Co-requisite:  CLAS 12100: Discussion section

This first-year course introduces the general history and culture of ancient Greece and Rome to students coming to the subject for the first time.  Literary texts central to the ancient Greek and Roman traditions receive prime attention, including works by Homer, Plato, Cicero and Virgil, but students are also exposed to the importance of learning from documentary texts, archeology, and art history.  Topics discussed include concepts of divinity and humanity, heroism and virtue, gender, democracy, empire, and civic identity, and how they changed in meaning over time.  The course allows students to develop a rich appreciation for the Greek and Roman roots of their own lives, and prepares them to study the Greco-Roman past at more advanced levels. Offered annually.


Discussion section for Ancient Greece and Rome

CLAS 12100 (Sections 1-3)

F 9:25-10:15, 0 credit hours

Co-requisite: CLAS 10100 or HIST 10210

A weekly discussion group required for those registered for CLAS 10100, Ancient Greece and Rome, or its cross-lists.




USEM 13186

Prof. A. Tagliabue

TR 9:30-10:45, 3 credit hours
In our society everyone is exposed to love stories: most of us have watched Hollywood movies or TV series and read novels which focus a couple who share love and adventures, face threatening rivals and at the end reach a stable relationship. We like these stories because they are entertaining and give us a break from the busy rhythms of our life.
  The university seminar will explore the origin of these love stories, which goes far back to ancient Greek literature. By reading sections from Homer's Odyssey, two Greek tragedies (Aechylus' Agamemnon and Euripides' Helen), Aristophanes' speech in Plato's Symposium, and three ancient Greek novels, we will identify the key features of these narratives about love and adventures, and focus on the portrayal within them of different models of love, shifting from Odysseus and Penelope's conjugal fidelity to Helen and Clytemnestra's infidelity. We will also discover that in the ancient world love stories had both an entertaining and an educative function.

  Students will be encouraged to make connections to more recent love stories throughout, but the course will conclude with a unit that explicitly invites this: the last weeks of the seminar will be devoted to the reading of Manzoni's The Betrothed and the analysis of Hollywood movies and TV series focused on both love and adventure.

  This is a writing intensive seminar in which students will develop their critical writing skills through a combination of short discussion papers and longer essays, including the fascinating creative task of writing or performing a section of a love-story.




CLAS 10140 01 (Cross-listed with HIST 30240, MI 30603)

Prof. R. Ford

MW 3:30-4:20, 3 credit hours

Fulfills History Requirement

Co-requisite: CLAS 12140: Discussion section

This course is an introduction to the Later Roman Empire and the period known as Late Antiquity. It will focus on the transformation of the Roman Empire between the third and sixth centuries A.D. and examine the major political, social, economic, and cultural developments that took place in this period. Central topics will include the political decline of the Roman Empire in the West; the rise of Christianity; the controversy over religious doctrines of the church; and the invasions, migrations, and kingdoms of “barbarian” peoples who would lay the foundations of Medieval Europe. The course will address the following questions: did the Roman Empire really fall or was it simply transformed? Is this a period of calamity or continuity? How did the church engage with the philosophical and political culture of Rome, and how did it change over this period? Who were the so-called barbarians and what role did they play in the collapse of the Roman imperial system in Western Europe?


Discussion section for Barbarians, the Church, and the Fall of Rome

CLAS 12140 (Sections 1-3)

F 10:30-11:20, 0 credit hours

Co-requisite: CLAS 10100 or HIST 10210

A weekly discussion group required for those registered for CLAS 10100, Ancient Greece and Rome, or its cross-lists.



The History of Ancient Greece

CLAS 20105 01 (Cross-listed with HIST 30230, CNST 20603)

Prof. C. Baron

MW 2:00-2:50, 3 credit hours

Fulfills History Requirement

An outline introduction to the history of ancient Greece from the Bronze Age to the Roman conquest. The topics covered include the rise of the distinctive Greek city-state (the polis), Greek relations with Persia, Greek experiments with democracy, oligarchy, and empire, the great war between Athens and Sparta, the rise to power of Philip and Alexander of Macedon, and the Greeks’ eventual submission to Rome. Readings include narrative, documentary, and archeological sources. The course prepares students for more detailed courses in ancient history. Offered biennially.


Discussion section for The History of Ancient Greece

CLAS 22105 (Sections 1-2)

F 2:00-2:50, 0 credit hours

Co-requisite: CLAS 20105, HIST 30230, or CNST 20603

A weekly discussion group required for those registered for CLAS 20105, The History of Ancient Greece, or its cross-lists.


The Art and Lit of Metamorphosis

CLAS 20365

Prof. M. Bloomer

TR 12:30-1:45, 3 credit hours

This course begins with a critical study of Ovid’s great poem, the Metamorphoses. The poem itself became a subject of metamorphosis in poetry and art in the hands of such figures as Statius, Dante, Botticelli, Bernini, Rembrandt, Hughes and Heaney. The course addresses the modeling of transformation within the literary text by examining first Ovid and his sources, and second, adaptations of his poem by writers such as Shakespeare and Kafka. Connections with folklore, magic, and religion are explored. The graphic arts receive equal consideration as the course explores how Ovid’s ideas of the transformation of the body, the capacity of the human body for allegory, and the fragility of identity have influenced later artists and authors.



The Romans and Their Gods

CLAS 30220

Prof. L. Grillo
MWF 12:50-1:40
“We have surpassed every people and nation in devotion, in respect for religious matters and in that peculiar wisdom which acknowledges that everything is ruled and guided by divine power.” Following Cicero’s bold claim, we will first focus on the Romans’ personal and public devotion (what did they believe? How did they worship?), on their respect for the divine (how did they conceive and communicate with the supernatural? Were they tolerant toward new and mystery religions?) and on their religious wisdom (how did they conceptualize their beliefs, individually and publicly?). Secondly, we will consider the rise of Christianity: how unique was Christianity? How was it shaped by being born in the Roman empire? How did Romans and Christians view each other in the ages of persecutions and apologists? Does ancient Rome add anything to the notion of Roman Catholic?



Sex and Gender in Greco-Roman Antiquity

CLAS 30315 (Cross-listed with GS 30636)

Prof. E. Mazurek

MW 9:30-10:45, 3 credit hours

This course examines the differing roles and stereotypes, forms of behavior, and values associated with women and men in Greco-Roman antiquity.  Special attention is given to the preoccupations of the Greeks and Romans with the categories of ‘female’ and ‘male’ and to the dynamics of relations and relationships between women and men.  The course both deepens knowledge of Greco-Roman society and provides an informed background for contemporary gender debates.



Greek & Roman Epic Poetry

CLAS 30355/60355

Prof. C. Schlegel

TR 2:00-3:15, 3 credit hours

This advanced course in literature provides detailed study of the major epic poems of the classical literary tradition—the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer, the Aeneid of Virgil, and the Metamorphoses of Ovid. Discussion centers on the cultural contexts in which the works were written or produced, and the literary conventions on which they rely for their ever-appealing aesthetic and emotional power.



Greek Art and Architecture

ARHI 30120/60120

Prof. R. Rhodes

MW 2:00-3:15, 3 credit hours

Fulfills Fine Arts Requirement

This course analyzes and traces the development of Greek architecture, painting and sculpture in the historical period, from the eighth through the second centuries BC, with some consideration of prehistoric Greek forebears of the Mycenaean Age.  Particular emphasis is placed upon monumental art, its historical and cultural contexts, and how it reflects changing attitudes towards the gods, human achievement, and the relationship between the divine and the human.

Spring 2018 Courses

Words of the Ancient Romans

CLAS 10022

Prof. K. Schlegel

MW 12:50-1:40, 3 credits
This course introduces students to the literary culture of ancient Rome, from the boisterous comedy of Plautus in the second century BCE to the Confessions of St. Augustine in the fourth century CE.  Along the way we will examine Cicero’s work as a defense lawyer and a politician, Vergil’s magisterial epic of foundation and loss in his Aeneid, erotic poetry of Catullus and Ovid, and the surreal worlds of the Roman novel.  Some history will accompany the works for context, but the course primarily asks students to explore some of the literary works of the world in which so many of our own institutions — from the church to the courts — took shape.  We will explore some of the ways that Roman literature describes and offers solutions to unchanging human dilemmas of the heart and mind.  

CLAS 12022: Words of the Ancient Romans Discussion Groups (Sections 1-4)

F 12:50-1:40, 0 credits

A weekly discussion group required for those registered for CLAS 10022, Words of the Ancient Romans.



USEM: Ancient Emotions

CLAS 13186 01
Prof. B. Leyerle

TR 3:30-4:45, 3 credits

(Freshmen only)

Why do people react as they do? How can feelings be manipulated? And, what is the role of emotion in life and literature? A desire to explore these questions will lead us in this seminar to read and discuss an assortment of ancient texts, ranging from the influential definitions of emotions penned by philosophers (especially Aristotle and the Stoics), to the “case studies” provided by classical drama and epic, to the various therapeutic strategies urged by early Christian preachers (especially John Chrysostom). Throughout the semester, we will bring modern studies of the emotions and current therapeutic approaches into dialogue with these ancient sources.



Ancient Heroes

CLAS 20350

Prof. A. Tagliabue

MW 11:30-12:20, 3 credits

Our contemporary world often prizes public fame and celebrity, whether it is earned by achievement, talent and distinction, or acquired through more notorious or media-driven means. More than two thousand years ago, extending outwards from a pocket of civilization in the Mediterranean, the ancient Greeks and Romans prized in a similar way success and glory, heroism and fame. Indeed many of its heroes, such as Achilles and Ulysses, are still remembered as heroes today. This seminar will explore the stories of some famous ancient Greek and Roman heroes, from Achilles to Aeneas, and compare these figures to heroes of our time, from the controversial Christopher Columbus to the heroic war objector Desmond Doss and the Olympic star-sprinter Usain Bolt. With the help of both literary and multimedial support, you will be able to feel the presence of these heroes in front of you, and you will be able to assess critically the value of their success along with its limits. Moreover, we will reflect upon the differences between our modern perceptions of heroes and those of the ancient Greeks. What does it say to us that the ancient Greek hero Achilles wants his friend’s concubine and is not willing to change his mind about this? What is the role of the community in the actions of ancient and modern heroes? Does the ancient heroes’ divine descent have any counterpart in the modern conception of heroes? If you would like to reflect more on ancient and modern notions of heroism, individuality, success and failure, in ways which can fill you with new ideals and ambitions, come along to this course for keen discussion and debate.



Ancient Heroism Discussion Group (Sections 1-4)

CLAS 22350

F 11:30-12:20, 0 credits

A weekly discussion group required for those registered for CLAS 20350, Ancient Heroism Discussion Group.



Drinking and Drinking Culture

CLAS 20021 (Cross-list HIST)

Prof. A. Pistone

TR 9:30-10:45, 3 credits
This course asks students to examine the role that drinking (both proper and improper drinking) plays in the ancient Greek world and use this to reflect on the modern world. Students will be encouraged to make connections to the modern world throughout, but the course will conclude with a unit that explicitly invites this. The course will lay the groundwork with an examination of the myths and worship of Dionysus, as the god of wine, and will then move into the literary and material evidence of what took place at symposia, including the games and poetry that were involved. Then we will move into literary depictions of symposia and contrast three very different accounts (Plato, Xenophon, and Lucian), beginning with Xenophon and then using him as a sort of baseline to look at Plato’s additions and Lucian’s parodic account. We will also compare these literary accounts to the image of symposia that lyric poetry, vase paintings, and other testimonia convey. Finally, we will conclude with a more explicit comparison of ancient and modern attitudes toward drinking (and the proper way to drink and be drunk).



Introduction to the Art of Ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Near East

CLAS 20400 (Cross-list ARHI 20100)

Prof. R. Rhodes

MW 11:00-12:15, 3 credits

This course will examine the origins of western art and architecture, beginning with a brief look at the Bronze Age cultures of the Near East and Egypt, then focusing in detail on Greece and Rome, from the Minoan and Mycenaean world of the second millennium B.C.E to the rule of the Roman emperor Constantine in the fourth century C.E. Among the monuments to be considered are ziggurats, palaces, and the luxuriously furnished royal graves of Mesopotamia; the pyramids at Giza in Egypt and their funerary sculpture; the immense processional temple of Amon at Luxor; the Bronze Age palaces of Minos on Crete—the home of the monstrous Minotaur—and Agamemnon at Mycenae, with their colorful frescoes and processional approaches; the great funerary pots of early Athens and the subsequent traditions of Red and Black Figure vase painting; architectural and freestanding sculpture of the Archaic and Classical periods; the Periclean Acropolis in Athens, with its monumental gateway and shining centerpiece, the Parthenon; and finally, among the cultural riches of Rome, the painted houses and villas of Pompeii; the tradition of Republican and Imperial portraiture; the Imperial fora; the exquisitely carved Altar of Peace of Augustus; the Coliseum; and the Pantheon of the philhellene emperor Hadrian.



Roman Law & Governance

CLAS 30210 (cross-list HIST 30231; POLS 30702; CNST 30609; MI 30616)

Prof. T. Mazurek

MWF 2:00-2:50, 3 credits

An introduction to the nature and influence of Roman law, one of the most celebrated and distinctive elements of ancient Roman culture.  The course surveys the development of Roman civil and criminal law from the very early and enigmatic Twelve Tables to the very late and amazingly great Digest of Justinian.  Topics covered include legal procedures, the creation of law, and Roman jurisprudence, all of which are studied in the broad context of Roman government and administration.  The lasting effects of Roman law on modern legal systems are also considered.



Roman Imperialism 200 BC-200 AD

CLAS 30216 (cross-list HIST 30241)

Prof. R. Ford

MW 11:00-12:15, 3 credits
At its greatest extent, the Roman Empire stretched from Scotland in the north to Egypt in the south, from Spain in the west to beyond the Euphrates River in the east. Difficult to imagine in the present day, this vast territory was ruled by a single political and legal entity that imposed its norms upon a great diversity of peoples, languages, and cultures. How did a small Italian city-state come to rule the entire Mediterranean world and beyond? This is one of several questions the course will address. Others central questions include: What were the keys to Roman military success? Was imperialism a deliberate or accidental strategy? How did Romans perceive the frontiers and the peoples dwelling beyond them? In what ways did the Roman legacy condition colonialism in the modern world, and how has modern colonialism influenced modern perceptions of the Roman Empire? Over the course of the semester, students will read extensively in the primary sources (in translation) alongside current scholarly literature in order to address all of these questions and gain greater insight into the complexities of the Roman imperial experience.



Public Speaking and the Early Christians: Teaching, Rhetoric and Preaching

CLAS 30341 (Cross-listed with MI 30604, 60604)

Prof. G. Müller

MW 2:00-3:15, 3 credits

In this course, we will discuss the development of preaching in the Early Church. The genre of the sermon and the role of the preacher are among the most formative and enduring innovations of the ancient Church. Through them, the Christians transformed the ancient art of rhetoric, reused public space and reconsidered sacred buildings, reinvented education and created a focal point for their group identity.We will read early sermons and sermon-like texts, discuss the practical circumstances under which they were created and delivered (space, acoustics, light), consider the theory of preaching and the educational background of preachers, reimagine the audiences who listended to them, and encounter texts of great beauty and importance for the history and theology of the Early Church. The time of origin will range from the first to the seventh century. Texts will be read in English. You do not need to have any knowledge of Latin, Greek or theology.



Thesis Direction

CLAS 78599

Prof. C. Baron

Variable credits

For students doing thesis work for a research master’s degree.