This course surveys the history of the ancient Romans from their early years as a negligible people in central Italy, to their emergence as the supreme power in the Mediterranean, and, finally, to the eve of their displacement as rulers of the greatest empire in antiquity. The course combines a chronological account of the Romans' remarkable political history with an examination of Roman society, including subjects such as gender, demography, and slavery. We will read from a variety of ancient sources, including the historians Polybius, Livy, and Tacitus and the poets Horace and Vergil. We will also mine the evidence offered by coins, inscriptions, papyri, and even graffiti, which provide invaluable insight into the realia of daily life. The course will combine lecture and discussion. No prerequisites. Offered every other year.
This course offers an introduction to the artistic, architectural, and archaeological remains of ancient Italy and the Roman Empire from c. 900 BCE to 330 CE. We will study Roman material culture from its early beginnings under Etruscan influence through the era of the Roman republic, the imperial period, the rise of Christianity, and the dissolution of the empire. We will examine architecture, sculpture, pottery, and numismatics in their social and political contexts, with the goal of understanding all aspects of Roman society and those under Roman rule. The course will be based on slide lectures with assigned readings to supplement the images seen and discussed in class. No prerequisites. Offered every other year.
It is impossible to understand the literatures of the West without some knowledge of classical mythology. Not only are some myths wildly entertaining, they permeate popular imagination and life to this day. This course focuses on the evidence from ancient Greece and Rome but may also include material from other traditions. Class discussion will explore some of the overarching themes contained within the myths themselves and also how these stories have influenced modern culture through literature and art. At the same time, students will have a chance to observe how the treatment of different myths changes from author to author, thus revealing what issues were important to the people who told them. No prerequisites. Offered every year.
How did the ancient Greeks and Romans imagine faraway places and peoples? What were the social, religious, economic, and military factors that led them to contemplate and travel to those distant locales? How did ancient notions of the periphery and the "other" shape post-classical perceptions of the world's fringes, during, for example, the Age of Discovery? In this course we will study ancient descriptions of journeys to far-off places, the causes of human movement in the classical world, and the development of views on the structure and dimensions of the earth that led to the achievements of early geographers. We will investigate Greek and Roman travel through archaeological and historical evidence, as well as through seminal texts, ranging from Homer's Odyssey and Herodotus' Histories to Tacitus' descriptions of Britain and Germany. No prerequisites.
It is a great pleasure to read Homer in Greek, and this course seeks to help students do so with accuracy and insight. Students will acquire a working knowledge of Homer's vocabulary and syntax, and will explore some of the key literary and historical questions that have occupied his readers. Offered every spring.
Emphasis will be placed on improving reading efficiency both through careful translation of passages from Vergil's poetry and through grammar review. In addition, students will develop an appreciation of the often subtle intricacies of Vergil's poetic language and the untranslatable music of his verse. Attention will be given both to understanding Vergil in his cultural and historical context and to exploring his continuing significance. Offered every spring.