Classics Department

Professors: Robert D. Brown (and Adviser to Class of 2011), M. Rachel Kitzinger (and Dean of Planning and Academic Affairs), Robert L. Pounder (and Special Assistant to the President, Development); Associate Professor: J. Bertrand Lott (Chair); Assistant Professors: Rachel Friedman, Barbara OlsenaBlegen Research Fellow: Angelo Mercado (University of California, Santa Cruz).

Requirements for Concentration in Classical Studies Greek: 11 units consisting of the following 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; either Classics 216 or 217; 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 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 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 Civilization

I. Introductory

[101a. Civilization in Question] (1)

(Same as College Course 101)

Not offered in 2008/09.

102b. Reading Antiquity (1)

From the great epics of Homer and Virgil 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, Virgil, Livy, and Ovid. Ms. Friedman.

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.

Not offered in 2008/09.

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. Instructor to be announced.

210b. Greek Art and Architecture (1)

(Same as Art 210) Mr. Abbe..

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

(Same as Art 211)

Not offered in 2008/09.

216b. 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. Ms. Olsen.

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

[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.

Not offered in 2008/09.

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.

289b. City, Palace, and Society in the Ancient Mediterranean (1)

This course examines the development of cities in the Ancient West Asian, Aegean, Roman, and Late Antique society. It examines how urban form, viewed through the lenses of material culture and text, can help illuminate political, socio-economic, and religious facets of cultures for which the historical record is poor. Emphasis is placed on understanding how current remains are studied to reveal past realities; on considering the relationship between city form and political economy; on "reading" the city; and on understanding daily requirements such as food and water supply, public safety, and managing growth and shrinkage. A limited sample of significant sites is studied in class; students examine additional cities for presentation. Mr. Lott.

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 2008/09: Classics and Colonialism. By the beginning of the twentieth century the British Empire held sway over approximately one quarter of the world’s population. Because of the central role that classical learning played in the self-definition of the British elite, this meant not only that a classical education was imposed on many colonized peoples, but also that classical learning itself became implicated in the projects of British imperialism. This course examines the ways in which these projects were both furthered and undermined by a cultural poetics that centered on the classics. We look first at how classical material was used to express colonial authority, considering, for example, the way that the Roman empire was used as an idealized model, or the role that classical education played in advancement through the Indian Civil Service, and then we turn towards the ways that classics were later appropriated by imperial subjects in moves towards decolonization and the articulation of a postcolonial poetics. Some authors that we might consider in this regard include Wole Soyinka, Seamus Heaney, and Derek Walcott. Ms. Friedman.

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 2008/09: An Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics. (same as Anthropology 302) Many modern languages, including English, are “sisters” in a family of languages we call “Indo-European.” Although we have no documents written in their “mother” tongue, linguists have been able to reconstruct many aspects of Proto-Indo-European by working backwards from early languages in the family like Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin. This course explores the different features of language—phonology, morphology, syntax, for example—that allow us to reconstruct a completely extinct language, as well as features of its literature and culture. We examine how linguistic theory guides this reconstruction and what we learn about the form of language in general by looking back from living languages to “dead” languages to languages whose existence we can only deduce. Some knowledge of Greek, Latin, Sanskrit or another Indo-European language, or of linguistic theory, is advantageous but not required. Mr. Mercado.

305a or b. Senior Project (1)

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

[310b. Seminar in Ancient Art] (1)

(Same as Art 310)

Not offered in 2008/09.

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. Mr. Mercado.

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. Instructor to be announced.

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 2008/09: The Spartan Mirage. Of the first-tier city-states of ancient Greece, Sparta occupies a unique position — a state which prized above all its military achievements but eschewed many of the arts so eagerly pursued by its competitor cities such as Athens, namely grand public architecture, sculpture, and above all, literature. As a result, the Spartans are mainly known to us through the voices of other Greeks from whose various biases multiple versions of Sparta emerge. This course investigates the ways in which Sparta and its inhabitants are portrayed in the writings of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Aristotle, and Plutarch, and concludes with a short survey of the two best attested Spartan poets, Alcman and Tyrtaeus. Ms. Olsen.

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. Friedman.

[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.

Not offered in 2008/09.

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. Instructor to be announced.

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 Virgil. 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 Virgil. 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 2008/09: The Latin Epigram. The typical Latin epigram is a succinct and witty poem in the elegiac meter on a theme relating to everyday social life. Its themes include personal and political invective; jokes; ridicule of pernicious social types such as the social-climber, lecher, and legacy-hunter; detailed descriptions of objects, places, and events; and the seamier aspects of love and sex. These it purveys in a style marked by humor, an unsentimental realism, and racy language. The course surveys the history of the genre from the 2nd century BCE until late antiquity, concentrating on its finest exponents, Catullus (c. 84-54 BCE) and Martial (c. 40-104 CE), who brought the epigram to its artistic culmination. Mr. Brown

[302a. Virgil] (1)

Selections from the Eclogues, Georgics, or Aeneid of Rome’s greatest poet. Subjects of study include the artistry of the Virgilian hexameter, the relationship of Virgil’s works to their Greek models, and general topics such as his conception of destiny, religion, and the human relation to nature.

Not offered in 2008/09.

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. Lott.

[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 2008/09.

305a or b. Senior Project (1)

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

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