Syllabus for 2010-2013
Explanation of Syllabus
This syllabus, although divided into five areas of focus, provides for a unified look at the ancient Mediterranean world as a poly-cultural environment from the archaic period to the first century of the Common Era. We decided to both expand the geographical and cultural parameters of the course and to limit the chronological parameters in order to meet goals for the course which were expressed in various ways by faculty in the course, program reviewers and students. The course continues to provide possibilities for a unified historical narrative that has now been extended into the second semester. It charts strategies of cultural assimilation and resistance, and does so with texts that are (1) aesthetically rich, (2) susceptible to multiple interpretations and disciplinary approaches, (3) thematically connected, (4) significant in the history of Western culture, and (5) eminently teachable. The syllabus also has significantly increased the amount of attention paid to material culture and urban environments. The syllabus, moreover, does not conclude with the “triumph” of any particular culture or historical institution. Rather, it concludes with a Vanity Fair, a genre in which one continues to witness the contestation of values and identities.
The choices of texts reflect our desire to enrich the course thematically, to address the issue of historical continuity, and to introduce the students to great works.
- Aeschylus, Oresteia
- -----, Persians
- Aristophanes, The Frogs
- Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics
- -----, Politics
- Augustus, Res Gestae
- Callimachus, Aetia
- Cicero, Second Philippic
- Curd, ed., Presocratics Reader: Selected Fragments and Testimonia
- The Cyrus Cylindar in Kuhrt, The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources of the Achaemenid Period, p. 70, 72
- The Book of Daniel [LXX]
- Euripides, Bacchae,
- -----, Medea
- The Book of Esther
- The Book of Exodus
- The Book of Ezra
- The Book of Genesis
- Herodotus, Histories
- Hesiod, Works and Days/Theogony
- Homer, Odyssey
- The Book of Job
- Livy, Ab Urbe Condita
- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura
- 1 Maccabees
- The Gospel according to Mark
- Miller, Greek Lyric: An Anthology in Translation
- Ovid, Metamorphoses
- The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians
- The Epistle of Paul to the Romans
- Petronius, Satyricon
- Philo, Embassy to Gaius
- Plato, Republic
- -----, Symposium
- Plautus, Miles Gloriosus
- Polybius, Histories
- Rabinovich, The Contest of Horus and Set and Sinuhe
- Sallust, The Jugurthine War/The Conspiracy of Sallust
- The Satire of the Trades
- Seneca, On Tranquility of Mind and Letter 47
- Sophocles, Antigone
- Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesean War
- Virgil, The Aeneid
- Burkert, Babylon, Memphis, Athens
- Empereur, Alexandria: Jewel of the Nile
Material Culture and Urban Centers
The Temple Complex at Al-Karnak
The Mortuary Complex of Ramses III (~1160 BCE)
The Persian City: Persepolis
The Second Jerusalem Temple
The Archaic Greek Statue
The Archaic Greek Vase
The Archaic Greek Temple
The Classical City: Athens
The Hellenistic Statue
The Hellenistic City: Alexandria
The Augustus Prima Porta
The City of Rome
FALL SEMESTER SCHEDULE
The Archaic Mediterranean and Near East
Epic and Foundational Stories
We want to begin the course by opening up the Mediterranean and considering roughly contemporaneous foundation stories from several areas in this region. Both the Odyssey and the Sinuhe set the Mediterranean stage as imagined in Greece and Egypt. Themes in this unit include “home and away,” kinship and friendship, polytheism and monotheism, and praiseworthy and blameworthy behavior. Social organization, gender, age, and class, religious ideologies in a large agrarian monarchy, among pastoral nomads, as well as archaic Greece are introduced.
Mon 30 Aug: Homer, Odyssey
Wed 1 Sept: Homer, Odyssey
Fri 3 Sept: Homer, Odyssey
Mon 6 Sept: Labor Day
Wed 8 Sept: Homer, Odyssey
Fri 10 Sept: Egypt (mythic texts): Rabinovich, Isle of Fire, Vol. One: The Contest of Horus and Set; Jan Assmann, The Mind of Egypt (chapter)
Mon 13 Sept: Egypt: Sinuhe (Rabinovich); Shaw, An Introduction to Ancient Egypt (chapter); Satire of the Trades
Wed 15 Sept: Egypt (architecture: al-Karnak)
We introduce the architecture and sculptural program of ancient al-Karnak to provide a material context for the literary works and to allow for comparative discussion when archaic Greek art and architecture are introduced.
Fri 17 Sept: Genesis
Mon 20 Sept: Genesis
Wed 22 Sept: selections from Exodus
We have moved from foundational documents to wisdom literature, which flourished around the Mediterranean and provides another way of looking at the world. Hesiod serves as a bridge in the Greek context between the two literatures. We can consider/compare various answers to the question of why things are the way they are, and how one should then live.
Fri 24 Sept: Book of Job
Mon 27 Sept: Hesiod, Theogony
Wed 29 Sept: Hesiod, Works and Days
Fri 1 Oct: Presocratic philosophers & Vernant essay
Mon 4 Oct: Presocratic philosophers
The Archaic Greek city in art and architecture
Wed 6 Oct: Archaic Greek architecture [temples that look East/South; & kouroi]
Archaic Greek architecture, which looks south and east for its models, can be compared with that of Egypt at some length with the addition of al-Karnak. The figure of the kouros could be compared with Egyptian and Near Eastern representations of the human form. To what degree can the differences among them index cultural differences present in the literature?
Fri 8 Oct: Archaic Greek art [vases]
Lyric poetry reintroduces and focuses on the affective imaginary, including but not limited to love, of the Greek and Egyptian people. Discussion could center on the representation of feeling and the social structures and moral worlds of ancient Egypt and archaic Greece. We could also consider the problem of individual and generic representation.
Mon 11 Oct: Egyptian lyric poetry
Wed 13 Oct: Archaic Greek lyric poetry
Fri 15 Oct: Archaic Greek lyric poetry
OCTOBER 16 – OCTOBER 24: FALL BREAK
Perspectives on the Persians
In the middle of the sixth century BCE we have a moment in which multiple cultures encounter the political reality of the Achaemenid Empire begun under the Persian king, Cyrus the Great. We have an opportunity to see responses to the rise of Persia that argue with one another in interesting ways.
Mon 25 Oct: Herodotus, Histories (excerpted)
Wed 27 Oct: Herodotus, Histories (excerpted)
Fri 29 Oct: Herodotus, Histories (excerpted)
Mon 1 Nov: Herodotus, Histories (excerpted)
Wed 3 Nov: The Persian City: Persepolis: friezes from Persepolis ruins (on-line); The Cyrus Cylinder [The Cyrus Cylinder can be found translated here: http://www.livius.org/ct-cz/cyrus_I/cyrus_cylinder.html]
We have looked at the archaic Greek and ancient Egyptian cities, and now we turn to the archaic Achaemenid capital, Persepolis and Cyrus’ self-representation of his reign that we find on the Cyrus cylinder. There is a rich image base of the sculptural program at Persepolis.
The City of Persepolis and environs will allow for comparison with monumental projects in Egypt, Greece, and Israel. The Cyrus cylinder will give a Persian view of the organization and advantages of empire. Themes include the ideology of the eternal empire, service to the gods, the ideal leader, the tribute of subject peoples (which might resonate well with certain moves by Athens in Herodotus).
Fri 5 Nov: The Book of Ezra & The Book of Esther
Ezra provides a historical narrative of the events that followed from Cyrus’ decision to allow Jews to return to their homeland from their Babylonian exile and to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Esther gives us a chance to discuss exile. Both texts allow us to get a sense of what it meant to be Jewish under Persian rule.
We can explore the reasons for Greek opposition to and Jewish praise for the empire of the Persians. Other topics include the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and the imagined life of the Jewish exile, as well as the complex ways in which others can be both praiseworthy and blameworthy.
Mon 8 Nov: Jerusalem Temple [& the aftermath of the Babylonian Captivity]
Here we introduce the Jerusalem temple and the theocratic state. What does it mean in the ancient Mediterranean to have a temple with no statues of the god, god-king, king, or even hero? Can the social world imagined in Genesis, Exodus, Ezra and Esther help us to understand this monumental project?
Wed 10 Nov: Aeschylus, The Persians
Aeschylus' Persians provides the bridge back to the Greek narrative that underpins the syllabus. It is the oldest surviving historical play in European literature and our only example of historical tragedy to survive from classical antiquity. It imagines the Persians’ reaction to their defeat at Salamis. Although irreducible to any one moral outcome, it warns against imperial over-reaching. Themes include the problems inherent in imperial power, which look back to analyses of the same by Herodotus and forward to Thucydides tragic history. We can also consider Aeschylus’ representation of kingship and leadership in general and look back to earlier treatments of these issues. Finally, we learn how the Athenians talk about the barbarian “other” in social, political, religious, and cultural terms.
Fri 12 Nov: Aeschylus, Oresteia
Mon 15 Nov: Aeschylus, Oresteia
Wed 17 Nov: Sophocles, Antigone
Fri 19 Nov: The Classical City: Athens
Here we will consider Athens not only as the first great democracy and cultural center of the Mediterranean but also as the imperial city that largely replaced the Persian Empire. This approach allows us to see Athens diachronically in terms of archaic predecessors but also cross-culturally as in conversation with Egyptian and Persian models of power.
Mon 22 Nov: The Parthenon [& classical statuary]
Wed 24 Nov: Euripides, Medea
This play allows us to consider the place of outsiders in the Athenian democracy, especially women and barbarians. It ties nicely with Herodotus and Aeschylus’ Persians and continues the consideration of the place of women place in the Greek world begun with the Odyssey.
NOVEMBER 25 – NOVEMBER 28: THANKSGIVING VACATION
Mon 29 Nov: Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War (excerpted)
Wed 1 Dec: Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War (excerpted)
Fri 3 Dec: Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War (excerpted)
Mon 6 Dec: Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War (excerpted)
Wed 8 Dec: Euripides,The Bacchae
FINAL EXAM: Tuesday, December 14th, 1 to 5 p.m. in VLH
SPRING SEMESTER SCHEDULE
Mon 31 Jan: Aristophanes, The Frogs
This comedy looks back to the tragedies we have covered in the fall syllabus and allows the students to get a sense of the role of tragedy in Athenian society. We will explore the differences and similarities between Athenian tragedy and comedy.
Wed 2 Feb: The Trial and Death of Socrates
Fri 4 Feb: Plato, Republic
Mon 7 Feb: Plato, Republic
Wed 9 Feb: Plato, Republic
Fri 11 Feb: Plato, Republic
Mon 14 Feb: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1
Wed 16 Feb: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Books2, 3 and 5 (excerpts)
Fri 18 Feb: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Books 9 and 10; Politics, Book 1 (excerpts)
In the Politics Aristotle offers an empirical investigation of many of the questions that we will have been asking so far this year: (1) the relationship between citizen and state; (2) the benefits and deficits of different constitutional models; (3) the place of outsiders (women and slaves) in Greek society; (4) and the ethical demands of political life.
Mon 21 Feb: Aristotle, Politics, Books 1 and 2 (excerpts)
The Hellenistic World
In an ideal world, we would have begun this section with an ancient text on Alexander the Great that is both readable and roughly contemporaneous with his rule. There is no such animal appropriate for this course. Therefore, we decided to start with his greatest colonial foundation, Alexandria (334 BCE). By beginning with this city, we can look at issues like the foundation of the Ptolemaic court and its creation of the library and its endowment of scholarly projects. Hellenism emerges as a theme in the course, understood as processes of resistance to and assimilation of cultural differences following sustained contact and imperial domination.
Wed 23 Feb: The Hellenistic City: Alexandria: Empereur, Alexandria: Jewel of the Nile, ch. 1: “Ancient Alexandria” & short excerpts from Plutarch and Strabo; Venit, Monumental Tombs of Ancient Alexandria, ch. 1: “The Monumental Tombs of Ancient Alexandria: Setting the Scene" and ch. 4: “The Tombs of Pharos Island: Cultural Interplay and Ethnic Identity"; Andrew Erskine essay on cultural exchange; Theocritus, Idyll 15
Fri 25 Feb: The Hellenistic Statue
This topic allows us to look at images of Alexander the Great that shaped all subsequent representations of kingly power not only in the Greek East but also later in Rome. We will also look at different conceptions of the body. We can also compare Alexander’s conception of kingly power with those encountered earlier in the course, especially those at Persepolis and Jerusalem.
Mon 28 Feb: Callimachus, poems
Callimachus, a Greek from Cyrene in Libya, was the court poet under the first three Ptolemies, the Macedonian rulers of Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great. He was a literary critic who adopted an anti-classicizing mode. His poetry is interesting because it self-consciously reflects Greco-Macedonian attempts to negotiate the profound cultural differences between Greece and Egypt during the first half of the third century BCE. He also had a profound affect on later poetry, including Virgil and Pope.
Wed 2 Mar: Book of Daniel
This work represents an indigenous negative literary response to the fact of Greco-Macedonian hegemony. In reflecting on the present encounter with Greco-Macedonian power, the author brings to bear an apocalyptic imagination, refiguring the past, and the Jewish subordination in another empire, in order to predict the outcome of the present. We can discuss the work in terms of the author’s constructions of good and bad empire or the virtuous and wicked king.
Fri 4 Mar: 1 Maccabees
Written about 100 BCE, this work spans the period from Alexander the Great to the negotiations between Jewish rebels and Romans against Greek power. It is a great hinge text connecting the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Jews, and the Romans. Although a work memorializing resistance to Greco-Macedonian hegemony, unlike Daniel, which looks back to earlier Jewish literature, it bears a close relationship to Greek historical works. We will consider the issue of what/how one can assimilate and in what ways assimilation is undesirable or impossible. It is also a work of propaganda, extolling the virtues of the Hasmoneans who would rule a more or less independent Jewish state from 140-37 BCE.
Mon 7 Mar: Polybius, Histories (excerpted)
Wed 9 Mar: Polybius, Histories (excerpted)
Fri 11 Mar: Plautus, Miles Gloriosus
Plautus is the most famous sitcom writer in antiquity, whose plays later had great influence on early modern English comedy. If you've seen A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum you've seen a crasis of three of his plays.His plays chart the Romans’ negotiation of Greek culture but also use Greek models to explore the culturally other. He works very well with Polybius, who approaches the issue of cultural identity from the other direction.
The Roman Mediterranean
Mon 14 Mar: Lucretius, De Rerum Natura (excerpted)
Wed 16 Mar: Lucretius, De Rerum Natura (excerpted)
Fri 18 Mar: Sallust, The Conspiracy of Catiline
19-27 MARCH SPRING BREAK
Mon 28 Mar: Cicero, Second Philippic
Cicero picks up the theme of leadership (i.e. the anti-leader/thug, Marcus Antonius and the ideal leader, Cicero himself) in this famous speech. It allows us to look at a piece of rhetoric and also provides another window onto Roman civic values.
Wed 30 Mar: Livy, Ab Urbe Condita (excerpted)
Fri 1 Apr: Livy, Ab Urbe Condita (excerpted)
Mon 4 Apr: Augustus, Res Gestae; Suetonius, Life of Augustus
Wed 6 Apr: Augustan art: The Augustus Prima Porta and the Villa of Livia
Fri 8 Apr: Virgil, Aeneid
Mon 11 Apr: Virgil, Aeneid
Wed 13 Apr: Virgil, Aeneid
Fri 15 Apr: Ovid, Metamorphoses (excerpted)
Mon 18 Apr: Ovid, Metamorphoses (excerpted)
Wed 20 Apr: The City of Rome: Holliday, “Time, History, and Ritual on the Ara Pacis Augustae”; Ara Pacis images on-line; Strabo, Geographies (excerpt); John R. Patterson, “The City of Rome,” Blackwell, A Companion to the Roman Republic
Models of Virtue and Vice in the Roman Empire
The fact of autocracy and Roman hegemony is the background to a number of works that model virtue and vice and enjoin particular visions of the moral life in this new context. These works index diverse populations of readers and allow us to see the responses to Roman power as a manifold.
Fri 22 Apr: Gospel According to Mark
The secret messianic life of a Jewish prophet, the Gospel of Mark, the earliest life of Jesus, memorializes Jesus of Nazareth as an alternative to Roman hegemony and situates him within the context of Jewish society in the period before the destruction of the Jerusalem temple.
Mon 25 Apr: Paul: 1 Corinthians
A Jewish member of the Jesus movement attempts to resolve factionalism in the community in Corinth. He advances an ethic of love and flexible adaptability for members of “God's kingdom.” But he also insists on the expulsion of evildoers. Self-mastery is a central theme.
Wed 27 Apr: Paul: Epistle to the Romans
Fri 29 Apr: Philo, Embassy to Gaius
The Embassy to Gaius is a treatise that considers the virtues necessary for an ambassador to the imperial court when the ruler of that empire is Caligula. It considers the conflicts and maneuverings on the part of various ethnic constituencies.
Mon 2 May: Seneca, On the Tranquility of Mind and Letter 47
Wed 4 May: Petronius, Satyricon
Virtue and vice, class, gender, ethnicity, philosophical pretensions, political ambitions, and self-control (or the lack thereof) continue as themes in this Roman novel.
Fri 6 May: Petronius, Satyricon
FINAL EXAM: Weds. May 16th, 6-10 pm in Vollum Lecture Hall