Classical Studies 11: Greek Civilization

William A. Johnson

Office: Allen 229B    •    WF 1-2, or by appt.   •    684-2082   •

Greek Civilization

Ancient Greece boasts a breathtaking array of "beginnings" in the course of western civilization, including the alphabet, the western idea of "history" (historiography), formal logic and philosophy, staged drama (tragedy and comedy), and much else. From Greece there also derives literature, art, and architecture of exceptional quality and influence.

The principal goals of our course will be: (1) a founda–tional introduction to the literature, history, and material culture of ancient Greece, and (2) a critical and systematic exploration of strategies for interpreting the cultural artefacts of antiquity. The course is intended as an introductory overview, both a good end in itself, and a suitable starting point for those interested in pursuing further work in ancient studies. The materials of the course will be organized roughly under these rubrics: 1. Homer and Prehistory; 2. Daily Life, Sexuality, Identity; 3. The Making of History; 4. Pericles, Athens, Democracy and Empire; 5. Birth of Drama; 6. Elites and Intellectualism: Socrates and Philosophy; 7. Age of Alexander.

The course will use both concurrent and seriatim readings in our textbook (Pomeroy, Ancient Greece) and in primary readings in translation (Iliad etc.) to explore these topics. We will work together on strategies to master these at times somewhat difficult (but also extraordinarily interesting) materials. You will not want to finish this course without knowing who Solon is, or without a firmer understanding of and appreciation for the Parthenon. But there are a large number of possible directions to our learning, and we will often make strategic choices as a group as to what we wish to explore in more or less depth.

Course requirements: There will be routine, brief written and/or oral assignments by way of summing up or exploring further, roughly every week or two. Classroom discussion will be thoughtful, respectful, vigorous, exciting. There will be two one-hour examinations, and a final exam that includes as a take-home component a substantial essay. Examinations will test your command of factual information, your knowledge of the primary texts we read in translation, and your ability to put these materials together into an informed narrative or analytic essay. You are expected to come to every class; this is a seminar in which your daily contribution is an essential component of
our learning and your grade.

Graded material will be weighted as follows:

Class work, short papers, presentations30%

One-hour examinations (2)40%

Final examination30%



S. Pomeroy et al. Ancient Greece: A political, social and cultural history. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195308006

Robert Fagles, trans. Homer, The Iliad. Penguin Classic. ISBN 978-0140275360

M. I. Finley, The Portable Greek Historians. Viking. ISBN 978-0140150650

D. Grene, R. Lattimore, trans. Greek Tragedies vol. 1. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226307909

B. Jowett, trans. rev. H. Pelliccia. Selected Dialogues of Plato. Modern Library. ISBN 9780375758409

Supplementary materials will be made available as handouts or in electronic form.

Illustrations: 1. Nestor's cup inscription. 2. Apollo, Temple of Zeus. 3. Temple of Zeus, OIympia. 4. Blue Ladies, Knossos.