Classics Department

Professors: Robert D. Brown (Chair), M. Rachel Kitzinger, Robert L. Pounder (Assistant to the President); Assistant Professors: Rachel Friedman, J. Bertrand LottaBlegen Research Fellow: Garth Tissol, Emory University.

Students may major in Classical Studies, with a concentration in Greek, in Latin, or in Ancient Societies or elect a correlate sequence in Greek, in Latin, or in Ancient Societies. New requirements, pending approval by New York State.

Requirement for Concentration in Classical Studies: Greek: 11 units consisting of the following courses: 6 units of Greek, including two at the 300-level; Classics 102 and Classics 103; Classics 216; 1 unit of 200-level work from among Classics 212, 213, 214, 215, or Classics/College Course 101: Civilization in Question, or another relevant 200-level course from the college curriculum; Greek 305 or Greek 306-307: Senior Project.

Requirement for Concentration in Classical Studies: Latin: 11 units consisting of the following courses: 6 units of Latin, including two at the 300-level, Classics 102 and Classics 103; Classics 217; 1 unit of 200-level work from among Classics 212, 213, 214, 215, or Classics/College Course 101: Civilization in Question, or another relevant 200-level course from the college curriculum; Latin 305 or Latin 306-307: Senior Project.

Requirements for Concentration in Classical Studies : Ancient Societies: 11 units consisting of the following courses: 3 units of Greek or Latin; Classics 102 and Classics 103; Classics 216 or 217; 2 units from among 200- or 300-level Greek or Latin, or Classics 212, 213, 214, 215 or Classics/College Course 101: Civilization in Question, or another relevant course from the college curriculum; two 300-level courses, including 301 and/or 302 and another relevant 300-level course from the college curriculum; Classics 305 or Classics 306-307: Senior Project.

Requirements for Correlate Sequences in Greek or Latin: 6 units, to include 5 units of either Greek or Latin, of which at least one must be at the 300 level; 1 unit chosen from the Vassar curriculum in consultation with a departmental adviser. In addition to courses offered by the Department of Classics, possible choices include Art 210, 211, 310, Drama 221, Philosophy 101 and 320.

Requirements for Correlate Sequence in Ancient Societies: 6 units, to include one year of either Greek or Latin; one of either Classics 102 or Classics 103; either Classics 216 or 217; two other units from courses taught in translation above the 100-level, one of which must be a 300-level course.

Those interested in completing a correlate sequence should consult as soon as possible with a member of the department to plan their course of studies.

Any course offered by the Department of Classics may be elected (by non-majors only) under the NRO. Courses elected under the NRO before the declaration of the major will be counted toward the major.

Recommendations: For graduate study, command of both classical languages is essential; a reading knowledge of French and German is also desirable.

Advisers: The department.

A. Courses in Classical Civilization

 

I. Introductory

 
[101a.   Civilization in Question]
(1)
(Same as College Course 101)
       Not offered in 2002/03.
 
103b.   Crosscurrents: History and Culture of the Ancient Mediterranean
(1)
The axiom of Ancient History that navigable water enables communication is nowhere so true as with the Mediterranean Sea, around which there grew up in antiquity the cultures of, e.g., Egypt, Greece, Rome, Asia Minor, Syria, and North Africa. This course provides an introduction to the ancient Mediterranean from the earliest cultures of Mesopotamia and Egypt (c.3000 BCE) to the beginnings of the Christian Middle Ages. Topics such as trade, migration, immigration, conquest, and imperialism are used to illustrate both historical developments and complex cultural interactions. Through primary and secondary readings, students are asked to consider questions like: How do cultures 'interact?' What does it mean for one culture to 'borrow' from another? What 'belongs' to a culture? How do cultures conceive of their debts to, and interactions with, other cultures? Mr. Lott.
 
 

II. Intermediate

 
210a.   Greek Art and Architecture
(1)
(Same as Art 210)
 
[211 b.   Roman Art and Architecture]
(1)
(Same as Art 211)
       Not offered in 2002/03.
 
212a.   Tragedy and the Athenian Polis
(1)
This course studies a number of plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides to understand tragedy both as a dramatic genre and as a critique of the social, religious, political, and familial structures of Athens in the fifth century BCE. All materials are in English translation. Ms. Kitzinger.
       Prerequisites for 2002/03 only: Any course in Classics, Greek or Latin or special permission.
 
213b.   The Culture of War
(1)
An exploration of the ideals, practices, and moral problems engendered by war. The course focuses on two Greek wars - one mythical, one historical. We begin with the legendary Trojan War and the ensuing conflict of Aeneas with the native peoples of Italy, as described in Homer's Iliad and Vergil's Aeneid. Turning to historical Greece, we study the ruinous Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta (431-404 BCE). Our main text is the classic account of Thucydides, whose treatment of causation, enmity, leadership, heroism, morality, and other aspects of war we compare with the epics of Homer and Vergil. For a different perspective on the Peloponnesian War, we also read at least one of the "peace" plays of the comic dramatist Aristophanes (The Archarnians Peace, and Lysistrata). Finally, we examine the complex interplay between fictional and real war in Euripides' Trojan Women, an Athenian tragedy set in Troy but composed during - and partly in response to - the Peloponnesian War. Mr. Brown.
       Prerequisites for 2002/03 only: Any course in Classics, Greek or Latin or special permission.
 
[214.   Male and Female in Greek and Roman Literature and Myth]
(1)
This course explores the way male and female roles are defined and viewed in ancient literature in both the private sphere of the family and in the public sphere. In addition to discussing literary texts where gender roles are central to the content, we put the definitions and ppints of view expressed in these texts next to the evidence for the actual conditions of daily life, as far as they can be reconstructed, and next to the constructions of gender which emerge in myths about divine figures. Literary texts we read may include the Odyssey, the Orestia, poems of Sappho, Sophocles' Women of Trachis, Euripides' Hippolytus, Aristophanes' Lysistrata and Women of the Assembly, Plato's Symposium, poems of Catullus, Propertius, and Tibullus, plays of Plautus and Terence, Ovid's Art of Love and love poems, and Apuleius' Golden Ass. In addition, we look at speeches from law courts and archaeological remains as evidence for daily life and the Homeric Hymns and Ovid's Metamorphoses for the comparative evidence of divine models. Ms. Kitzinger.
       Not offered in 2002/03.
 
216a.   History of the Ancient Greeks
(1)
(Same as History 216) This course examines the history and culture of the ancient Greeks from the emergence of the city-state in the eighth century BCE to the conquests of Alexander the Great in 335 BCE. In addition to an outline of the political and social history of the Greeks, the course examines several historical, cultural, and methodological topics in depth, including the emergence of writing, Greek colonialism and imperialism, ancient democracy, polytheism, the social structures of Athenian society, and the relationship between Greeks and other Mediterranean cultures. Students both read primary sources (for example, Sappho, Tyrtaios, Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristophanes, and Plato) and examine sites and artifacts recovered through archaeology the development of students' critical abilities to evaluate and use these sources for the study of history is a primary goal of the class. Instructor to be announced.
       Prerequisite: 1 unit in Classics, Greek, or Latin, or 1 unit in history.
 
[217b.   History of the Ancient Romans]
(1)
(Same as History 217) This course examines the history of the ancient Romans from the foundation of their city around the eighth century BCE to the collapse of their Mediterranean Empire in the fifth century CE. The course offers a broad historical outline of Roman history, but focuses on significant topics and moments in Roman history, including the Republican aristocracy, the civil and slave wars of the Late Republic, the foundation of the Empire by Caesar Augustus, urbanism, the place of public entertainments (gladiatorial combats, Roman hunts, chariot races, and theater) in society, the rise of Christianity, the processes of Romanization, and barbarization, and the political decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Students read primary sources such as Plautus, Cicero, Livy, Tacitus, and Suetonius, and secondary accounts dealing with important issues such as slavery, religious persecution and multiculturalism. Students also examine important archaeological sites and artifacts. The development of students' critical abilities to evaluate and use these sources for the study of history is a primary goal of the class.
       Not offered in 2002/03.
 
298a or b.   Independent work
(1/2 or 1)
 
301.   Seminar in Classical Civilization
(1)
In 2002/03 Classics 380 takes the place of Classics 301.
 
302a.   The Blegen Seminar
(1)
The course is offered by the Blegen Distinguished Visiting Research Professor or the Blegen Research Fellow in Classics, appointed annually to pursue research and lecture on his/her scholarly concerns in classical antiquity. We encourage students to take note of the fact that each Blegen Seminar is uniquely offered and will not be repeated. Since the topic changes every year, the course may be taken for credit more than once.
       Topic for 2002/03: On Nature: Ideas of the Natural in Ancient Rome. What is nature and what does it mean to call something "natural"? People today who write about environment often use these terms intuitively, without reflecting on their origins and deeper significance. But in fact the concept of the natural has had a long history, with many paths and byways this history has shaped current understandings of nature and of the place of human beings in it. This course has two related aims: first, to study the evolution of conceptions of nature in the western tradition, beginning with the ancient Greek philosophy, and moving through Roman philosophy and literature second, to examine the imaginative and poetic responses to the natural world that distinguish Roman literature. The major texts of the course are Lucretius' On the Nature of Things, Vergil's Eclogues, and Ovid's Metamorphoses. We also read selections from earlier writings - the presocratic philosophers and Aristotle - and from later ones, including Pliny'sNatural History and Seneca's Natural Questions. Mr. Tissol.
 
305a or b.   Senior Project
(1)
 
306a-307b.   Senior Project
(1/2,1/2 )
 
380b.   Plays of Logos
       (Same as Philosophy 380b, College Course 380b) Study of ancient Greek literature in the modern era has been organized along both "traditional" disciplinary divisions: literature, philosophy, art, history, and religion, and within categories of genre: drama, epic, history, philosophy, lyric poetry, etc. Yet these divisions do not represent the way the Greeks thought about their artistic productions and the role they play in the formation of culture. We examine how rethinking our own categories might open up for us different ways of talking about these texts: what finally is the difference between a play by Sophocles and a Platonic dialogue? Can clear lines be drawn between the poetry of Sappho and epigrammatic utterances of Heraclitus? Is there a need to define Hesiod's hexameter poetry and Homer's as responses to fundamentally different projects? We explore such questions through interdisciplinary readings, putting the resources of philosophical reconstruction and philological hearing into conflict and interplay. Possible topics for discussion are the Homeric simile, selfhood in Homer, the interplay of word and eros in Sappho's poems, the thought of being in Parmenides, and the interiorization of tragic mimesis in Platonic dialogue, etc. Texts may include Homer's Iliad and Hesiod's Theogony the poetic fragments of Parmenides, and Sappho Plato's Critoand Phaedo Sophokles' AntigoneOedipus the King, and Oedipus at Colonus. Ms. Kitzinger, Mr. Miller.
 
399.   Senior Independent Work
(1)
 

B. Courses in Greek Language and Literature

 

I. Introductory

 
185b.   Greek Archaeology
(1)
An introduction to Ancient Greek material culture from an archaeological perspective. The course explores the sites and monuments of the ancient Greek world from the Bronze Age to the Classical Period. We introduce archaeological methods, examine the history and development of Greek archaeology from its origins as a field in the 1870s to the present, and trace the chronological development of Greek art and architecture across several major sites such as Knossos, Mycenae, Olympia, Delphi, and Athens. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding and interpreting monuments in terms of their political, social and economic contexts. Ms. Olsen.
       Two 75-minute periods.
 
 

II. Intermediate

 
215a.   Fifth- and Fourth-Century Literature
(1)
Authors may include Sophokles, Euripides, Xenophon, Lysias, and Plato. In addition to consolidating knowledge of grammar, the selection of passages brings into focus important aspects of Athenian culture. Ms. Friedman.
       Prerequisite: Greek 105-106 or by permission of the instructor.
 
230b.   Archaic Literature
(1)
Authors may include Homer and Homeric Hymns, Hesiod, lyric poets, and Herodotus, as the first prose writer. Selections allow discussion of the interrelationship of poetic form in this period and the growth of prose out of oral poetry. Social, religious, and political issues surrounding the texts are discussed. Mr. Lott.
       Prerequisite: Greek 215 or by permission of instructor.
 
298a or b.   Independent Work
(1/2 or 1)
 
 

III. Advanced

 
301b.   Topics in Greek Literature
(1)
This course involves close reading of texts from a single genre or author or texts which have a common thematic interest. Study of the texts and of secondary material allows us to explore various features of ancient society for example, the course might take as its topic a genre such as Greek history or comedy, the oeuvre of a single author such as Pindar or Plato, or a theme such as the depiction of foreigners, the Greek sophists, or the tradition of the funeral oration. Since the topic changes every year, the course may be taken for credit more than once.
       Topic for 2002/03: Athenian Autochthony. A defining feature of Athenian civic ideology in the fifth and fourth centuries was the belief that the Athenians and their ancestors had always lived in Attica. They expressed this belief by describing themselves as autochthones, literally "born of the earth itself." In this course we explore the discourse of Athenian autochthony both in the political sphere, by looking at how it functions in such genres as the funeral oration, and in the more mythological sphere by considering how the motif of being "earth-born" functions in Athenian tragedy. Among the authors we might consider are Herodotus, Thucydides, Aeschylus, and Euripides. Ms. Friedman.
 
302a.   Greek Tragedy
(1)
A reading of a play by Sophokles or Euripides. Careful study of the text helps us to understand the playwright's style. We also consider how the play examines and responds to the historical, social and political conditions of Athens in the fifth century BCE.
 
[303a.   Homer]
(1)
Extensive selections from the Iliad, the Odyssey, and/or Homeric Hymns with attention given to oral theory, thematic structure, and social issues raised by the poems.
       Not offered in 2002/03.
 
305a or b.   Senior Project
(1)
 
306a-307b.   Senior Project
(1/21/2)
 
399a or b.   Senior Independent Work
(1/2 or 1)
 

C. Courses in Latin Language and Literature

 

I. Introductory

 
105a-106b.   Elementary Latin
(1)
Introduction to the language. Readings in classical prose and poetry. Mr. Brown.
       Open to all classes four 50-minute periods.
 
 

II. Intermediate

 
215a.   Republican Literature
(1)
Selected readings from authors such as Plautus, Cicero, Catullus, Caesar, Sallust, and Vergil. The selection of readings is designed to consolidate knowledge of grammar, provide an introduction to the translation of continuous, unadapted Latin, and highlight interesting features of Roman culture in the last two centuries of the Republic. Successful completion of the course qualifies students for Latin 220. Mr. Brown.
 
220b.   Literature of the Empire
(1)
Authors may include Horace, Livy, Ovid, Seneca, Petronius, Suetonius, and Vergil. Readings are selected to illustrate the diversity of literary forms that flourished in the early Empire and the interaction of literature with society, politics, and private life. Ms. Friedman.
 
298a or b.   Independent Work
(1/2 or 1)
 
 

III. Advanced

 
301b.   Topics in Latin Literature
(1)
The course involves close reading of texts from a single genre or author or texts which have a common thematic interest. Study of the texts and of secondary material allows us to explore various features of ancient society. For example, the course might take as its topic a genre such as Roman satire or the Roman novel, the relationship between the diverse works of a single author like Horace or Seneca, or a theme such as the depiction of slaves, the revolution of love poetry, or Roman attitudes toward death. Since the topic changes every year, the course may be taken for credit more than once.
       Topic for 2002/03: To be announced. Mr. Tissol.
 
[302a.   Vergil]
(1)
Selections from the Eclogues, Georgics, or Aeneid of Rome's greatest poet. Subjects of study include the artistry of the Vergilian hexameter, the relationship of Vergil's works to their Greek models, and general topics such as his conception of destiny, religion, and the human relation to nature. Mr. Brown.
       Not offered in 2002/03.
 
303a.   Tacitus
(1)
Close readings from the works of the imperial historian and ethnographer Tacitus. In connection with further developing students' reading skills, the class focuses on particular literary, cultural, or historical issues. Mr. Brown.
 
[304a.   Roman Lyric and Elegy]
(1)
Poems of Horace, Tibullus, Propertius, Catullus and Ovid with attention given to poetic form, the influence of poets on each other, and the view they give us of Roman society in the first century BCE.
       Not offered in 2002/03.
 
305a or b.   Senior Project
(1)
 
306a-307b.   Senior Project
(1/2 , 1/2 )
 
399a or b.   Senior Independent Work
(1/2 or 1)