Classics Department

Professors: Robert D. Brown, M. Rachel Kitzinger (Chair), Robert L. Pounder; Associate Professor: J. Bertrand Lott; Assistant Professors: Rachel Friedman, Barbara Olsen; Blegen Research Fellow: Rosemary Moore (University of Iowa).

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.

Requirements for Concentration in Classical Studies: Greek: 11 units consisting of the courses: 6 units of Greek, including two at the 300-level; 2 units from among Classics 102, 103, 104 or Classics/College Course 101: Civilization in Question; Classics 216; 1 additional unit of 200-level work in Classical Civilization or 1 additional unit of relevant 200-level work from outside the department, with adviser’s permission; 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, 2 units from among Classics 102, 103, 104 or Classics/College course 101: Civilization in Question; Classics 217; 1 additional unit of 200-level work in Classical Civilization or 1 additional unit of relevant 200-level work from outside the department, with adviser’s permission; 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; 2 units from among Classics 102, 103, 104 or Classics/College Course 101: Civilization in Question; 2 additional units of 200-level work in Classical Civilization, Latin, or Greek or 1 additional unit of 200-level work in Classical Civilization, Latin, or Greek and 1 additional unit of relevant 200-level work from outside the department, with adviser’s permission; 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 advisor. 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 2 units of either Greek or Latin; 1 unit from among Classics 102, 103, 104 or Classics/College course 101: Civilization in Question; 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.

Courses in Classical Civilation

I. Introductory

101a. Civilization in Question (1)

(Same as College Course 101)

[102b. Reading Antiquity] (1)

From the great epics of Homer and Vergil to the intimate lyrics of Sappho and Catullus, the literature of Greece and Rome presents a vast array of forms, subject matter, and styles that played a formative role in the western literary tradition and continue to challenge the imagination. This course tackles the question of how to read classical literature, with an understanding of the cultural conditions and assumptions that went into its making. The topics focus on issues where a twenty-first century perspective may make it difficult for a reader to understand an ancient text. These include the roles of orality, literacy, tradition, and innovation in the composition of ancient literature; polytheism and the relationship of cult, ritual, and myth; ancient concepts of the community and its social constituents; the poet’s persona and the literary construction of individuality. Readings in English translation are selected from a representative variety of Greek and Roman texts by such authors as Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, Euripides, Catullus, Vergil, Livy, and Ovid. Ms. Friedman.

Not offered in 2007/08.

103a. 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.

104b. Introduction to Greek Archaeology (1)

An introduction to Ancient Greek material culture from an archaeological perspective, This course explains 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 the origins as a field in the 1870s to the present, and trace the chronological development of Greek art and architecture across several major sites including 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.

182b. Virgil's Aeneid ( 1/2)

The whole of Virgil's Aeneid is read in English translation, with attention to the major themes of the epic, the characterization of its hero, and the historical background of Augustan Rome. Six-week course.

II. Intermediate

202a. Myth (1)

This course examines ancient myth from a variety of theoretical perspectives. It compares Greek and Roman myth with other mythic traditions and explores different versions of the same myth within Greek and Roman culture. We also consider transformations of ancient myths into modem versions. Literary, artistic, and archaeological evidence provide ways to understand the function of myth in ancient Greek and Roman society. Ms. Kitzinger.

[211b. Roman Art and Architecture] (1)

(Same as Art 211)

Not offered in 2007/08.

[214a. 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 points 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. We read literary texts from a number of genres: examples of texts we read are parts of the Odyssey, poems of Sappho and Alcaeus, Aeschylus’ Oresteia and Euripides’ Hippolytus, comedies of Aristophanes, poems of Catullus, Propertius and Tibullus, plays of Plautus and Terence, and Ovid’s Art of Love and love poems. 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.

Prerequisite: Classics 101, 102, or 103, or special permission.

Not offered in 2007/08.

[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. Mr. Lott.

Prerequisite: Classics 101, 102, or 103, or 104, or 1 unit in History or special permission.

Not offered in 2007/08.

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. Mr. Lott.

Prerequisite: Classics 101, 102, or 103, or 1 unit in History or special permission.

283b. Women in Antiquity (1)

(Same as Women's Studies 283) Greek and Roman literary and historical accounts abound with vividly drawn women such as Helen, Antigone, Medea, Livia, and Agrippina, the mother of Nero. But how representative were such figures of the daily lives of women throughout Greek and Roman antiquity? This course investigates the images and realities of women in the ancient Greek and Roman world, from the Greek Late Bronze Age (c. 1200 BCE) to the Roman Empire (up to the III c. CE) by juxtaposing evidence from literature, historical sources, and archaeological material. Throughout, the course examines the complex ways in which ancient women interacted with the institutions of the state, the family, religion, and the arts. Ms. Olsen.

298a or b. Independent work ( 1/2 or 1)

III. Advanced

Classics 301 and 302 are offered every year. Since their topics change annually, they may be taken for credit more than once. The prerequisite for each course is one unit of Classics, Greek, or Latin at the 200-level, or, with special permission, work appropriate to the topic at the 200-level in other disciplines.

301a. Seminar in Classical Civilization (1)

Topic for 2007/08: Pompeii and Akrotiri: Daily Life in Antiquity. The volcanic eruptions that buried the Roman resort city of Pompeii in 79 CE and the Aegean port town of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini/Thera in the seventeenth century BCE resulted in the preservation of these two important sites to such an extent that their houses, their property, their neighborhoods and even their graffiti remained nearly intact across the centuries. This course focuses on the ways in which these archaeological finds illuminate the practice of daily life within each of these cities by examining the physical and social contexts occupied by the inhabitants of Akrotiri and Pompeii. Topics explored include public and domestic architecture, wall-paintings, religious practice, and trade and economic production. We address in particular the impact of urban life upon the individual and the family. Mr. Lott, Ms. Olsen.

302b. 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 2007/08: Food in the ancient Mediterranean world. This seminar examines the uses and meanings of food within ancient Greek and Roman societies. Food for the Greeks and Romans was not simply a means of sustenance, but a vehicle for cultural constructions of morality and mores. In addition, patterns of food consumption and the means for production and distribution reveal fundamental aspects of societal organization. Readings for this course are drawn from scholarship in many disciplines, but primarily history and anthropology. Selected topics include the role of food in medicine and philosophy, social rank, conspicuous consumption, and food production. Ms. Moore.

305a or b. Senior Project (1)

306a-307b. Senior Project ( 1/2, 1/2)

310b. Seminar in Ancient Art (1)

(Same as Art 310)

380b. The Plays of Logos (1)

(Same as College Course 380b and Philosophy 380b)

399 Senior Independent Work (1)

Courses in Greek Language and Literature

I. Introductory

105a-106b. Elementary Greek (1)

Introduction to the language. Readings in the New Testament and Plato.

Open to all classes; four 50-minute periods. Ms. Friedman.

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. Olsen.

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. Ms. Kitzinger.

Prerequisite: Greek 215 or by permission of instructor.

298a or b. Independent Work ( 1/2 or 1)

III. Advanced

Greek 301 is offered every year, 302 and 303 in alternation; the topic of 301 changes annually. Prerequisite for all advanced courses: 2 units in 200 level courses in the language or by permission of instructor.

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 2007/08: The Poet’s Voice. In this course we consider the figure of the poet in ancient Greek literature. We look both at depictions of poets, for example the bards in the Odyssey, and at the ways that poets themselves represent their own poetic personae. Authors we study include: Homer, Hesiod, Sappho and other lyric poets, Pindar and Apollonius. 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. Ms. Kitzinger.

Not offered in 2007/08.

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. Ms. Olsen.

305a or b. Senior Project (1)

306a-307b. Senior Project ( 1/2, 1/2)

399a or b. Senior Independent Work ( 1/2 or 1)

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. Ms. Olsen.

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. Mr. Lott.

298a or b. Independent Work ( 1/2 or 1)

III. Advanced

Latin 301 and 305a-306b are offered every year, Latin 302-304 in rotation; the topic of Latin 301 changes annually. Prerequisite for all advanced courses: 2 units in 200-level courses in the language or special permission.

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 2007/08: The Myth of Rome. The foundation of Rome and its institutions was a popular and ideologically contested topic in Augustan culture. The course explores the range of attitudes—from idealization to mockery—which Augustan authors brought to bear upon the theme of Rome’s legendary origins, with an emphasis on ironic and subversive treatments. Selections in Latin from a variety of works including Livy’s History of Rome, the Elegies of Propertius, and Ovid’s Ars Armatoria. Mr. Brown.

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. Ms. Kitzinger.

[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. Ms. Olsen.

Not offered in 2007/08.

[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. Mr. Brown.

Not offered in 2007/08.

305a or b. Senior Project (1)

306a-307b. Senior Project ( 1/2 , 1/2 )

399a or b. Senior Independent Work ( 1/2 or 1)