Who were the ancient Greeks, and what do they have to do with us? The idea of ancient Greece as the starting point of “Western Civilization” continues to capture modern imaginations. In this class, we will attempt to understand the Greeks on their own terms, in their own words, by reading a selection of their most famous and influential surviving works and situating these works in their historical context. Our selections will span the years 800-400 BCE, the archaic and classical periods, and will be drawn from the works of Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plato. We will consider such topics as the cultural and political contexts of artistic performance; the rise of democracy and its co-implication with slavery and imperialism; the relation of individual to community; and the sex-gender system. The goals of this class are to reach a good understanding of Greek literature, culture, and history of this period and to improve critical reading and academic writing skills.
Meets L&S Breadth Requirement in Arts & Literature, Historical Studies, or Philosophy & Values