Classics Department

Professors: Robert D. Brown (and Adviser to Class of 2011), M. Rachel Kitzinger (and Dean of Planning and Academic Affairs); Associate Professors: Rachel Friedman, J. Bertrand Lott (Chair); Assistant Professor: Barbara Olsen; Visiting Assistant Professor: Curtis Dozier;Blegen Research Fellow: Lora Holland (University of North Carolina at Asheville).

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 2009/10.

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. Mr. Dozier.

[ 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.

Not offered in 2009/10.

104b. Archaeology of Ancient Greece(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.

181b. Cleopatra Queen of Egypt(1)

A famous historian once wrote, "The true history of Antony and Cleopatra will probably never be known; it is buried too deep beneath the version of the victors."  This course examines the life and times of Egypt's most famous queen, who was both a Hellenistic monarch, last of a dynasty founded by a companion of Alexander the Great, and a goddess incarnate, Pharaoh of one of the world's oldest societies.  However, the ways in which Cleopatra has been depicted over the centuries since her death are equally intriguing, and the course considers versions of Cleopatra from the Romans, who saw her as a foreign queen who tried to steal their empire, to Shakespeare, Shaw, film and television to explore how different societies have created their own image of this bewitching figure.

Open to Freshmen only, satisfies the college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

184a. The Father of History(1)

Herodotus' Histories, an account of a series of wars between the Greeks and the Persians in the 5th c. BCE, is the first western prose narrative history. Our very word ‘history' comes from Herodotus' designation of his work as a display of his ‘historie,' which is best understood as something like ‘research' or ‘inquiry.' As early as the 1st c. BCE, though, while Herodotus was granted the title ‘Father of History,' he was also called the ‘Father of Lies.' Herodotus' sense of the kinds of things that help his audience understand the Persian Wars is expansive, his work includes his account of his travels through the known world and provides an account of the foreign peoples he encounters, their customs and their legends. How can we make sense of this work, a massive compilation of material historical, ethnographical, and fantastical? How do the different elements of the narrative relate to one another? What does a reading of his work tell us about ancient Greek ideas of history, place, and cultural identity? How might it, in its account of this formative conflict between ‘East' and ‘West' illuminate our understanding of our own world? In this class we turn our attention to these and other questions as we devote ourselves to a reading of the Histories in its entirety. We supplement our reading of the Histories with a selection of critical essays that highlight the range of possibilities for approaching the text. Ms. Friedman.

Open to Freshmen only, satisfies the college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

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. Mr. Dozier.

[ 210b. Greek Art and Architecture ](1)

(Same as Art 210) Mr. Abbe.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

211b. Roman Art and Architecture(1)

(Same as Art 211) Ms. D'Ambra.

[ 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.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

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.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

285a. From Homer to Omeros(1)

(Same as Africana Studies 285) In this postcolonial era, when the study of classics repeatedly comes under fire for being the irrelevant and outdated province of ‘dead white males,' the work of the Caribbean poet Derek Walcott reminds us that it is possible to be engaged in a study of the classical tradition from a critical yet creative perspective. One of the most recent and most exciting poets to seek a direct relationship with the Homeric poems in his work, Walcott has authored both a stage version of the Odyssey and a modern epic, Omeros. In this course we devote ourselves to a close reading of these works alongside the appropriate sections of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, with a view towards understanding some of the complexities of Walcott's use of the Homeric models. Ms. Friedman.

287a. Ancient Warfare(1)

This course examines the phenomenon of war in Greek and Roman antiquity. While not neglecting traditional military topics such as arms and armor, organization, tactics, and strategy, we seek a wider cultural understanding of war by exploring its social ideology, the role of women and other non-combatants, and its depiction in art and literature. Wars for discussion include the fictional Trojan War as well as historical wars such as the Persian Wars, the Peloponnesian War, the Punic Wars, and the Roman Civil War. Readings in English translation are selected from Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Caesar, and others. Mr. Brown.

Prerequisite: any 100-level course in Classics, Greek, or Latin, or the instructor's permission.

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 2009/10: How do we reconstruct the past of the Aegean Bronze Age? How did the Greeks and Romans understand their own antiquity? What can we tell about ourselves through the way we think about the past? This seminar examines the way the modern era has understood the Aegean Bronze Age through archaeological investigation and how ancient myth reveals the Greek and Roman view of the same period, situated in their distant past. The first half of the seminar focuses primarily on the archaeological rediscovery of Greek prehistory via modern excavations and scholarship. This research has allowed us to reconstruct much of political, cultural, religious and domestic life in the Bronze Age, yet it is based on certain assumptions we make about the past, connected to our view of the present. To put these assumptions in perspective, the second half of the class considers the Greek and Roman interpretation in myth of this same period. How did the Greeks and Romans choose to remember, reformulate or reinvent t he period in epic, historical accounts, and tragedy? What does that reinvention reveal about the role the past plays in a nation's consciousness? All readings are in English. 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 2009/10: Greek and Roman Religion.  (Same as Religion 302b.)What does it mean to have a pantheon of gods? How do mythology and religion differ? What did the ancient Greeks and Romans believe, since their religions were not revealed, and they produced no doctrinal or liturgical texts? Using a wide range of sources, including literary texts, archaeological evidence, and visual texts, such as coins and paintings, this courses addresses the historical, cultural and social significance of both public and private worship in Greece and Rome, with some discussion of Bronze Age Greece, the Etruscans, and the emergence of Christianity during the Roman Empire. Ms. Holland.

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

310b. Seminar in Ancient Art(1)

(Same as Art 310b)

Topic for 2009/10: Pompeii: Public and Private Life. Ms. D'Ambra.

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. Holland.

Prerequisite: Greek 105-106 or by permission of the instructor.

230b. Greeks and Foreigners on the Euripidean Stage(1)

Topic for 2009-10b: Greeks and Foreigners on the Euripidean Stage. Questions of ethnicity and nationality consume much of the political, dramatic, and philosophical discourse of 5th century Athenian society. Figures like Medea, Xerxes, and Andromache well embody the varied ways in which Classical Greeks envisioned foreigners-as seductive but dangerous enchantresses, ruthless barbarian invaders, or occasionally sympathetic victims of Greek imperialism. Few genres explore these plentiful-if conflicting-archetypes so richly as the Athenian stage, particularly the plays of Euripides. Through close readings of the Medea, the Trojan Women, and the Helen, this course explores the ways in which Euripides constructs, amplifies, or subverts Greek conceptions of the exotic and the foreign. Ms. Olsen.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 2009/10: Greeks and Foreigners on the Euripidean Stage. Questions of ethnicity and nationality consume much of the political, dramatic, and philosophical discourse of 5th century Athenian society. Figures like Medea, Xerxes, and Andromache well embody the varied ways in which Classical Greeks envisioned foreigners—as seductive but dangerous enchantresses, ruthless barbarian invaders, or occasionally sympathetic victims of Greek imperialism. Few genres explore these plentiful—if conflicting—archetypes so richly as the Athenian stage, particularly the plays of Euripides. Through close readings of the Medea, the Trojan Women, and the Helen, this course explores the ways in which Euripides constructs, amplifies, or subverts Greek conceptions of the exotic and the foreign. 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.

Alternate years; not offered in 2009/10.

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. Friedman.

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. Dozier.

Open to all classes; four 50-minute classes.

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. Lott

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. Brown.

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 every third year; 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 2009/10: Latin Letters. This course introduces students to the genre of Latin letters. As well as reading from the letters of Cicero and Pliny and the poetic letters of Horace and Ovid (all of whose work survive in collections made in antiquity) we also read personal and public letters written by people of high and low status preserved on papyrus, stone, and wood, and some of the letters form the early Christian epistolary tradition. The primary goals of this course are to solidify students’ Latin reading ability and at the same time to introduce them to a significant aspect of Roman culture and a significant (but understudied) genre of Roman literature. Mr. Lott.

[ 302a. Virgil ](1)

Selections from the EcloguesGeorgics, or Aeneid. 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 2009/10.

Offered every third year

[ 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.

Not offered in 2009/10.

Offered every third year

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. Dozier.

305a or b. Senior Project(1)

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

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

[ 302a. Virgil ](1)

Selections from the Eclogues, Georgics, or Aeneid. 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 2009/10.

Offered every third year