Course Descriptions — Classics

These are courses in the literature and culture of ancient Greece and Rome. All reading is done in English translation.
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Classics 123 – The Roman Animal (January Interim Course) – HWC

This course examines the complex and shifting relationship between human beings and animal life in the ancient Roman world.  Through literary sources and artistic evidence, students explore the Romans’ view of animals and their use of them for food, entertainment, and companionship.  The class discusses Roman attitudes toward the non-human “other” and the ethical implications of such attitudes, both in antiquity and today.  All selections from Greek and Latin literature are read in English translation.

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Classics 124 – The Many Faces of Homer (January Interim Course) – ALS-L

The first half of this course is devoted to a close reading of the Iliad and Odyssey – two of the earliest and most influential epics of human history – with attention to their ancient Greek historical and cultural contexts. The second half explores some of the many reincarnations of Homer’s epics in later generations, from Monteverdi’s opera Return of Ulysses to David’s painting Anger of Achilles to the Coen brothers’ film O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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Classics 125 – Dawn of Democracy (January Interim Course) – HWC [new course – not yet approved]

Today, countries from Uruguay to South Korea to the United States all proudly claim to be “democracies.” In this class, students investigate the dawn of democracy in ancient Athens to understand democracy’s origins and what “rule of the people” meant to the Greeks—something radically different from modern political systems that claim the same title. Students read and discuss ancient sources (in English translation) and experience Athenian democracy for themselves through a historical role-immersion game.

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Classics 126 – Ancient Comedy: A Funny Thing Happened (January Interim Course) – ALS-L, ORC

This course introduces students to the wild and wacky world of ancient Greek and Roman comedy. It traces the development of the genre with discussion of how the plays were produced in antiquity and what influence they wielded on the drama of later centuries. Students read works by Aristophanes, Menander, Plautus, and Terence and stage selected scenes.

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Classics 129 – The Neverending Myth: Ovid’s Metamorphoses (January Interim Course) – ALS-L

Ovid was the most witty and popular Roman poet of his time, and his 12,000-line Metamorphoses has influenced more European literature and art than any other classical Latin text. By analyzing two modern English translations and studying other poems, stories, and artwork based on the Metamorphoses, students gain an understanding of the nature of Ovid’s storytelling and the power that it has exerted on our cultural tradition.

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Classics 240 – Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World – HWC

This course explores the social construction and function of sex and gender in ancient Greece and Rome. It uses both literature and visual art to analyze the role of sexuality in everyday society and in the lives of several of the more famous figures from antiquity. Readings also include modern histories and theories of sexuality, especially those that investigate the influence of the Greeks and Romans on modern conceptions of sexuality. Offered in alternate years. Counts toward Ancient Studies, Classics, Greek, Latin, and Women’s and Gender Studies majors and Women’s and Gender Studies concentration.

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Classics 241 – Greek and Roman Myth – ALS-L

For the Greeks and Romans myth was a cultural reality, just as it is for us.  Students in this course read the famous tales told by the poets Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Vergil, and Ovid and ponder the deeper truths contained in their works of fiction.  The class also explores the use of classical myth in later literature and its manifestations in art, music, and drama from ancient to modern times.   Offered every year in the fall.

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Classics 243 – The Golden Age of Greece – ALS-L, HWC

This course takes students on an exciting journey back to the 5th century BCE, as the Athenians emerge triumphant from the Persian Wars and develop the “Golden Age” of Greece.  Studying the history, literature, and art of ancient Athens reveals how distinctive that city-state was and how lasting its contributions to Western civilization have been.  Offered every other year in the spring.

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Classics 244 – The Golden Age of Rome – ALS-L, HWC

What made the last years of the Roman Republic and the early years of the Roman Empire “golden”? Students learn the answer by reading some of the finest Latin literature ever written, from epic to satire. They also do research with historical source materials. The course emphasizes the many ways in which ancient Rome has influenced and continues to influence Western culture.  Offered every other year in the spring.

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Classics 251 – Classical Studies in Greece (January Interim Course) – ALS-A, HWC

This course introduces students to the history and art of ancient Greece. It covers more than two thousand years of Greek civilization, from the bronze age through the archaic, classical, and Hellenistic periods. The itinerary takes students to every major region of Greece, with extended stays in Athens, Crete, the Peloponnese, and Thessaloniki. When not visiting museums and archaeological sites and learning about ancient Greek culture, students have the opportunity to experience modern Greek culture as well.  Offered in 2019 and every other January.

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Classics 253 – Classical Studies in Italy (January Interim Course) – ALS-A, HWC

This course introduces students to the history and art of ancient Italy, focusing on the city of Rome and the Bay of Naples area. It covers more than 1000 years of civilization, beginning with the Etruscans and ending with the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The itinerary includes extended stays in Civitavecchia, Rome, and Pompeii. When not visiting museums and archaeological sites, students have the opportunity to experience modern Italian culture as well. Offered in 2020 and every other January.