ClCv 102

Uncovering the Ancient World

Spring, 2006/Mr. Starr


Monday, 1/30: Introduction to Classical Civilization 102: Uncovering the Ancient World: An Introduction to the Worlds of Greece and Rome. I'll tell you about the course and give you a quick overview and orientation to Who, Where, and When Were the Greeks and Romans.

  1. Please fill out the first-day-of-class questionnaire, which can help me as I plan parts of the course. For the form, go to /ClassicalStudies/CLCV102/welcome102.html
    Fill out the form and then just click the "Submit" button to send it to me as email. Thanks!

  2. On the ClCv 102 FirstClass conference, please introduce yourself to your classmates with a couple of paragraphs about yourself. If you're pre-registered for the course, I'll put you on the conference Permissions list and subscribe you to the conference, which makes its icon appear automatically on your FirstClass desktop; you can move the icon if you want to, but I'd recommend keeping it on your FirstClass desktop, since we'll be using FirstClass regularly throughout the term. If you're adding the course, I'll add you to the conference Permissions list and the icon will appear on your FirstClass desktop (note that this does not add you to the course).

Thursday, 2/2: The Dark Ages and the Archaic Period in Greece

Ancient reading for today: Three selections from Homer's epic poem The Iliad, the story of the Trojan War, the Greek attack on Troy to recover the Greek woman Helen, whom Paris, the son of the Trojan king, had taken to Troy (Helen was the wife of Menelaos, brother of the Greek general Agamemnon).Then read three very short selections from the Greek lyric poet Archilochus, who wrote somewhat later than Homer.

  1. In the first selection from Homer, as the Greek army attacks Troy, Hektor, the chief Trojan warrior, rests briefly from battle and talks to his wife, Andromache, and their baby son, Astyanax. To help yourself approach the text, summarize Andromache's speech to Hektor and his reply (not to turn in). What counts as virtue in their world? Why does Hektor fight? This passage, originally from the Internet Classics Archive at MIT, is available at this URL:
    That translation is by Samuel Butler, published in 1898.
  2. In the second Homer selection (Book 9 of the Iliad), three ambassadors from the Greek commanders go to the tent of the greatest Greek warrior, Achilleus, who has withdrawn from the fighting to protest the Greek general Agamemnon's high-handed behavior in taking his war-prize, a woman war captive named Briseis. Each of the three ambassadors makes a different case to Achilleus: what are their arguments? How does Achilleus respond to the different cases? Do the values Achilleus enunciates agree with the values you see in the scene with Hektor, Andromache, and Astyanax? For a text, originally from the MIT Internet Classics Archive, go to: /ClassicalStudies/CLCV102/iliad9.html
  3. The final selection from Homer's Iliad is Book 24, the last book of the epic, in which Priam goes to Achilles' tent and recovers Hector's body. Keep a close eye on the emotional dynamics of the encounter between Priam and Achilles. Is this a simple ending? Go to: /ClassicalStudies/CLCV102/iliad24.html
  4. Now read the selections from Archilochus: what has changed? (handout on paper)

Monday, 2/6: The Classical Period in Greece: Overview

Modern activity for today: Since it's winter here (cold, maybe snow, but this is Massachusetts, so you can never tell, maybe just slush up to our knees), let's take an internet walk in the sun of Greece through the Acropolis of Athens. For our expert guide we are lucky to be able to turn to Professor Janice Siegel of Illinois State University, who has made both her lectures and her slides of the Acropolis available on the internet. Read through the lectures and study the slides. Many of the details in the lectures won't necessarily make sense to you: this is no discredit to Professor Siegel--it's just that you're not in her class: you're just dropping in on a few lectures out of context. Get as much out of Professor Siegel's site as you can and enjoy the warm sun.

First, to get a general look at what you'll see, look through the slides in the Illustrated Acropolis Overview near the top of the following web page: You can even click on a ticket to the Acropolis, to give you a sense of the intersection of the modern and ancient world: the Acropolis is an incredibly popular tourist attraction, and that has been true for thousands of years (Disney World is young!).

Then go to the separate lectures (with slides) for separate areas on the Acropolis. You can click on the pictures to get larger, clearer versions--it's worth seeing clearly what happened when Venetian cannonballs hit the Parthenon in 1687, for instance:

Finally, read Eleana Yalouri, The Acropolis: Global Fame, Local Claim, (Berg: Oxford, New York, 2001), pages 27-48, Chapter 2: "The Acropolis Past and Present" (e-reserve). What are the possible uses of a building/symbol like the Acropolis? For how many periods can such a building carry a different symbolic meaning? What American buildings might be at least vaguely comparable, given that the Acropolis is substantially older than any currently surviving building?

Thursday, 2/9: What defines who you are? Do you belong?

Ancient readings for today:

  1. Thucycides, The Peloponnesian War, selection: the funeral oration of Pericles over the Athenian war dead. In Pericles' speech, what qualities define an Athenian? For an e-text, originally from the Internet Classics Archive at MIT, go to:
  2. Compare Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, also given over war dead:
  3. Demosthenes, Against Neaera (pronounced Knee-EYE-rah, with the accent on the middle syllable). (On e-reserve, CLCV102-In-Neaeram.PDF.) This is a courtroom speech involving a woman named Neaera who--allegedly--was a former prostitute who passed her children off as Athenian citizens. Read the translator's introduction carefully: this is a complicated case. You'll be better off if you make a chart of the participants, so you can keep track of who is who. For the speakers, what defines an Athenian? What is the problem if someone who is not a citizen pretends to be a citizen? What attitudes toward non-Athenians do you see in the speech?

Monday, 2/13: Athens Presents Itself and Questions Itself:
The Panathenaic Procession, the Melian Dialogue, and the Trial of Socrates

Ancient readings and modern activity for today:

  1. Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, selection known as The Melian Dialogue, where the Athenians debate with the leaders of the island of Melos. What justifications for their actions do the Athenians offer? What arguments do the Melians propose? We'll debate the case in class. An electronic text, originally from the Internet Classics Archive at MIT, is available at this URL:
    Contrast the picture of Athens that emerges in this passage with the picture created in Pericles' funeral oration.
  2. Modern activity: After reading the Thucydides, everyone put two paragraphs on the course FirstClass conference: what would you advise the Melians to do and why? what would you advise the Athenians to do about Melos and why? Post your paragraphs by noon on Sunday, 2/12, so we all can read them before class.
  3. Plato, Apology of Socrates, the speech supposedly given by the philosopher Socrates when he was on trial for his life on charges including not worshipping the state gods and corrupting the youth (he lost). For an e-text, go to:
    What picture of Athens emerges from the Apology? Contrast that picture with what you see in the Melian Dialogue and in the Funeral Oration of Pericles.

Mini-lecture: The Panathenaic Procession (an enormous and enormously important public parade).

Thursday, 2/16: More Questions for Athens: women, sex, war, comedy, and empire

Ancient reading for today: Aristophanes' Lysistrata (the name of the main character) is a comedy, performed in public during the Peloponnesian War, in which the women of Athens and Sparta (the two opposing sides) refuse to have sex with their husbands until a peace treaty is made. What picture does the play paint of the Athenians? of the Spartans? of women? of men? What do we learn about Athens from the very fact that the play was performed in public at all at that time?

Modern reading for today: Peter W. Rose, "Theorizing Athenian Imperialism and the Athenian State," pages 19-26 (i.e., not the whole essay) in Contextualizing Classics: Ideology, Performance, Dialogue, edited by T. M. Falkner, N. Felson, and D. Konstan (Rowman and Littlefield, New York, 1999) (e-reserve)

Monday, 2/20: Presidents' Day--no classes

Thursday, 2/23: Short paper due in class: Persuading the Council of Athens

Topic: Under Athenian law, a person sufficiently disabled to be unable to work and without adequate means of support drew a small state pension, subject to an annual review during which anyone could challenge their right to receive the pension. The Greek writer Lysias wrote a speech to be delivered in court by the defendant (we don't know his name) in such a review, whose claim to his pension was being challenged by someone before the Council of Athens. I'll give you the speech in a handout. You are a member of the Council in the case, and you must cast your vote: should the man continue to receive his pension? In reaching your conclusion, you can consider the legal issues involved in the case as well as the effects on you of the non-legal (which is not to say illegal) persuasive strategies Lysias has the speaker bring to bear, such as sarcasm. Length: 2-3 pages, typed, double-spaced. Due in class. We don't know how the case came out, by the way, and there is no right answer.

Monday, 2/27: Tragic Women in Greece

  1. Modern activity for today: Greek theaters. For an expert guide, we'll go back to Illinois State University and Professor Janice Siegel. First, read Professor Siegel's "Illustrated Greek Drama" web site, at: Then read her "Illustrated Greek Theater" web site at As you look at the photographs of the remains of the theaters and read Professor Siegel's discussion, imagine what it would be like to watch a play in such a setting, e.g., outside, surrounded by thousands of people. What assumptions do you make today when someone says, "I'm going to see a play by Euripides"?-- would they dress differently than normal? behave differently? Would an ancient Greek make the same assumptions?
  2. Ancient reading for today: Two tragedies by the Greek tragedian Euripides, Medea and Hippolytus. The Medea is the story of a barbarian princess and witch, Medea, who helps the Greek adventurer/hero Jason get the golden fleece and flees with him (she also chops up her brother into small pieces and throws them into the sea to impede her father's pursuit). In the play, Jason leaves Medea and their children to marry a local Greek princess. The Hippolytus's story is better known as the tale of Phaedra (beloved of Roman and French playwrights), who falls in love with her stepson, who spurns her. What do the plays, performed before vast audiences, tell us about Greek women? For what can we use them as evidence? How can we use literature as historical evidence? Consider modern parallels: what is the value as historical evidence of things like a modern novel, a television series, a TV talk show, Facebook, Myspace?
  3. Modern reading for today: selections from Eric Csapo and William J. Slater, The Context of Ancient Drama (University of Michigan Press 1994), pages 103-108, 121-124, 139-143, 157-160, 165-171 (on e-reserve).

Thursday, 3/2: The Greek Family.

(If we had the world enough and time, we'd watch Lars von Trier's film, Medea, made in Denmark in 1988, a stark and powerful film, closely related to Euripides' play but not a translation.)

Ancient reading for today: Lysias, "On the Murder of Eratosthenes," a real case from ancient Greece, written by the speech-writer Lysias to be delivered by the defendant, a man named Euphiletus (paper handout). Under Athenian law, it was legal for a man to kill the adulterer without legal penalty so long as the husband caught them in the act in his house without entrapment. What does the speech tell us about a/the Athenian family?

Modern reading for today: Robert Garland, The Greek Way of Life (Cornell University Press 1990), pages 106-162 on "The Growing Child." We've looked at tragic women and will look at men at parties, so here we'll look at the life of a growing child (on e-reserve).

Monday, 3/6: Greek Men Alone: Drinking Parties, poetry, and sexuality

Ancient readings for today (these are quite long, so plan ahead):

  1. Plato, Symposium. Greek men gathered by themselves to drink and socialize. Plato's Symposium is the world's most famous drinking party, where some aristocratic men, including the philosopher Socrates, drink together and make speeches about the nature of love. Alcibiades, an aristocratic politician, crashes the party drunk and delivers a speech in praise of Socrates.
  2. Xenophon, Symposium (on e-reserve: CLCV102-Symposium.pdf). Xenophon was another friend of Socrates, though his Symposium is decidedly less grand and weighty than Plato's and may give a better sense of what went on in normal drinking parties.

Thursday, 3/9: The Athenian Economy: Farming and Slavery

For today, we (and who are we? many of us live in urban or suburban settings in which no one is directly engaged in agricultural labor and in a country where slavery has been abolished) shall look at two of the foundations of the Athenian economy: agriculture and slavery.

  1. Ancient reading for today: a sizable selection from Xenophon's treatise in dialogue form, "A Discussion of Estate Management" (Oeconomicus). In this section, one Ischomachus talks about his relationship to his wife and to his slaves on his farm (on e-reserve: CLCV102 Oeconomicus.PDF).
  2. Modern reading for today: Moses I. Finley, "Was Greek Civilization Based on Slave Labour?", originally published in the journal Historia in 1959, published in revised form in Finley's Economy and Society in Ancient Greece, edited by B. D. Shaw and R. P. Saller (New York, Viking, 1981), pages 97-115 (on e-reserve: CLCV102 Slave Labor.PDF).

Monday, 3/13: Greek Science and Medicine

Greek science and medicine, arising in a world very different from ours, still share many features that are recognizably "modern."

Ancient readings for today:

Hippocrates (or at least the treatise is attributed to him), The Sacred Disease, a treatise on seizure disorder. An electronic text, originally from the Internet Classics Archive at MIT, is available at this URL:

Why does Hippocrates argue that seizure disorder is wrongly considered "the sacred disease"? How does he approach the condition? What criteria does he use for understanding its causes? Would his analysis satisfy a modern doctor?

Hippocrates, "On Airs, Waters, and Places": /ClassicalStudies/CLCV102/hippocrates-airs.html

By noon on Wednesday, 3/15, post on the course FirstClass conference two questions that you think would be good for the midterm exam. A note: "easy" questions can be the hardest questions to do well on, while challenging questions make you think and analyze on the spot.

Thursday, 3/16: Midterm exam.

Note that the midterm exam falls right before Spring Break. If you prefer to take it that day, that's fine with me. If anyone prefers to take it on Tuesday, 3/14, or Wednesday, 3/15, let me know no later than Friday, 3/10.

Monday, 3/27: Rome: An Introduction and Early Roman History

Ancient reading for today: Two of the most famous stories from (Roman) history are Romulus and Remus with the wolf and the Rape of the Sabine Women. For today, read "The Life of Romulus," by the Greek biographer Plutarch, who lived in the late first century and early second century CE. The translation, originally from the Internet Classics Archive at MIT, is by the English poet John Dryden: it's a famous translation, though the language is (naturally) not modern:
What does Plutarch think of the stories in the life of Romulus? How does he evaluate historical information? What value would these stories have for Romans many centuries after the founding of Rome? Think of the founding legends of whatever country you're from: are they all "true"? The story of George Washington and the cherry tree, by the way, was made up by an early biographer of Washington.

Modern actvity for today, Part 1: Here are links for various paintings and a sculpture of the Rape of the Sabine Women. How do the different artists interpret the material? What interpretations might there be? How does the myth of the Rape of the Sabine Women continue to be powerful thousands of years after ancient Rome?

Ancient activity for today: Hercules and Cacus

Thursday, 3/30: Roman Power Expands: Soldiers in the Audience and on the Stage

Ancient reading for today: Rome expanded in large part because of its military power, yet simultaneously the foolish soldier can be a laughing-stock. Read Plautus' comic play, The Braggart Soldier. This play was, like Aristophanes' Lysistrata, performed in public. It features an extraordinarily foolish soldier, although many Romans themselves had military experience or had family members and friends who did. But comedy often reverses things and stands the normal on its head, as we see in the comic figure of the clever slave who dominates his master, as Palaestrio does in this play. Look for other comic stereotypes here, too, such as the dumb young man in love.

Modern activity for today: The Roman Army. In New England, there are many groups that reconstruct or re-enact Revolutionary War battles. In England and Europe, there are comparable groups focused on the Roman army, and their activities can give us something of a picture of what soldiers looked like in armor. When you look at a (modern) ancient Roman soldier, you get a sudden sense of how far away the ancient Roman world is from the modern world. The Ermine Street Guard is a British Roman-army group with a detailed, picture-full web site, so browse through the pictures at

Monday, 4/3: Roman Law: The Power of the Roman Father

Patria potestas (paternal power) is one of the fundamental concepts of Roman law and Roman life. The father (or, rather, the eldest living male in an agnatically defined family line--yes, that's a dense sentence: the handout will explain it) had theoretically almost completely unfettered power over those below him in the family line, including the right of life and death, complete economic control of all income earned by any member of the family, and the right to arrange and dissolve marriages. What would be the implications of such a legal system?

Reading and cases for today: Read the paper handout (there's no e-text) of ancient and modern material on patria potestas and work out the cases. Post any questions you have (whether large-scale or small-scale) on the course FirstClass conference.

Thursday, 4/6: The Fall of the Roman Republic

Mini-lecture (well, actually it's going to be more like a maxi-lecture, since there's a lot to cover): The Fall of the Roman Republic

Modern reading, ancient reading, and modern activity for today: Inscriptions.
The Romans loved to carve inscriptions in stone and set them up for other people to read, and they loved to write on walls. These inscriptions and graffiti are crucial sources of information about Roman daily life.

  1. Read pages 12-24 and 30-36 in Lawrence Keppie's Understanding Roman Inscriptions (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991) on how inscriptions were made and how they survived to the present (on e-reserve: Roman Inscriptions.PDF).
  2. Look around the Wellesley College campus for inscriptions (look for plaques on buildings, for instance, or on donated objects such as library carrels). Locate fifteen different inscriptions, copy them out, and make a list of what you could learn from them about Wellesley College. If those fifteen inscriptions were all that was left of Wellesley College, what would you know about it? What would you not know? For example, could you tell that Wellesley is a college? could you tell that it is a women's college? By noon on Wednesday, 4/5, on the course FirstClass conference, everyone post the inscriptions you found. The more different inscriptions we have, the better.

Monday, 4/10: Roman Politics and Morality

Ancient reading for today, Part 1: For many Romans, political activity and public service helped define a good and valuable life. Today we'll read an ancient Roman work that can show us how politics operated and how a prominent Roman might approach a political campaign. "The Handbook of Electioneering" (perhaps inaccurately said to be by Quintus Cicero, the brother of the prominent orator, politician, and philosopher, Marcus Tullius Cicero) purportedly gives Cicero advice on how to conduct his campaign for the consulship, the highest regular office in the Roman state. What techniques does Quintus suggest? How might Cicero win the consulship? Does Cicero belong to a political "party" in the modern sense (e.g., Democrats, Republicans)? What is the role of the "friends" to whom Quintus attaches such importance? Why might someone vote for Cicero? Did ancient candidates have political platforms? (on e-reserve: clcv 102-handbook of electioneering)

Ancient reading for today, Part 2: To acquaint us with Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, we'll read "The Deeds of the Divine Augustus," the semi-autobiographical inscription he had set up throughout the Roman Empire. The text, originally from the Internet Classics Archive at MIT, is available at this URL:
I've added some brief parenthetical notes to explain some things, such as that "HS" is the abbreviation for "sesterce," a Roman coin. What picture does Augustus want people to have of him? What does he emphasize among his various achievements? You might think of this document as somewhat analogous to--but not the same as--a modern press release: this is a document with a lot of spin in it.

Thursday, 4/13: Augustus: Politics, public buildings, statues, and communication without words

Modern reading for today, Part 1: Diane Favro, The Urban Image of Augustan Rome (Cambridge University Press 1996), chapter 7: "A Walk through Augustan Rome, A.D. 14" (pages 252-280; on e-reserve: CLCV 102 Augustan Rome.pdf). How can architecture and art help us understand Augustus and his presentation of himself?

Modern reading for today, Part 2: Karl Galinsky, Augustan Culture (Princeton University Press, 1996), pages 141-164 (on e-reserve), about the famous Ara pacis (Altar of Peace) and the statue of Augustus from Prima Porta.

Monday, 4/17: Patriots' Day: no classes.

Tuesday, 4/18 = Monday schedule: Now for a completely different vision of Augustan Rome

  1. Ancient reading for today: Ovid, The Art of Love. Written under the stern reign of Augustus, Ovid's The Art of Love is a mock-didactic poem (a didactic poem is a poem that teaches something--like the Roman poet Lucretius' poem about philosophy--, but Ovid's poem mocks the tradition: it's a poem that teaches how to fall in love and have an affair). The first two books of the poem are directed to men, the third to women. NOTE: the Ovid volume of translations is called The Art of Love, BUT it contains several works. READ ONLY THE WORK ENTITLED "THE ART OF LOVE"!
  2. Modern activity for today: The "How to Fall in Love" article is a popular genre today, although, of course, no one actually reads such articles … But perhaps a friend of yours has one (she didn't read it, of course) that someone gave her. Find a modern article and compare its advice to Ovid's. What images of men and women emerge? What are the conceptions of human relationships? How does the speaker/writer present himself or herself? (e.g., as the wise, experienced lover? as a well-meaning quasi-relative? as a moralist?) What problems does the article (and Ovid) present to the historian wanting to reconstruct what life was like in ancient Rome or modern America?

Mini-lecture: Augustus' legislation on marriage and morality. Augustus regulated marriage (basic law: almost everyone had to be married) and sexual morality. And he exiled Ovid.

Thursday, 4/20: Short paper due. Topic to be announced.

Monday, 4/24: City Life I: Daily Life

  1. Modern activity for today: What was a Roman's daily life like? What did s/he do? what did s/he wear? where did s/he live? what did s/he eat? We're lucky to be able to access a web site constructed by Professor Roger Dunkle of Brooklyn College, entitled (appropriately) "A Day in the Life of an Ancient Roman" at this URL:
    In future class sessions we'll explore some of these topics in more detail.
  2. Modern reading for today, Part 1: Etienne, Pompeii, pp. 42-75.
  3. Modern reading for today, Part 2: J. L. Sebesta, "Symbolism in the Costume of the Roman Woman," pages 46-53 in The World of Roman Costume, edited by J. L. Sebesta and L. Bonfante (University of Wisconsin Press, 2001) (on e-reserve).

Thursday, 4/27: City Life II: Roman Banquets

Ancient reading for today: Petronius, The Satyricon, a Roman novel that combines romance, parody, ghost stories, a wild banquet, a shipwreck--just about anything you can imagine. The central surviving section of the Satyricon (we don't have the whole work) is a banquet given by the freedman Trimalchio.

Monday, 5/1: City Life III: Public Spectacles: Gladiators

How can we best understand public spectacles like gladiatorial combats in the Roman world? What function did they serve in the lives of Romans? Are modern football or boxing or automobile racing good analogies? or do such analogies conceal more than they reveal?

Modern reading for today: "Familia Gladiatoria: The Heroes of the Amphitheatre" by M. Junkelmann, a lengthy, detailed discussion of gladiatorial equipment and competition, from the exhibit catalogue of a show at the British Museum, Gladiators and Caesars: The Power of Spectacle in Ancient Rome, edited by E. Köhne and C. Ewigleben (University of California Press, 2000). Allow lots of time for reading this. (on e-reserve: Familia Gladiatoria.PDF)

Thursday, 5/4: Magic, and a man turned into an ass

Ancient Reading for today: Apuleius, The Golden Ass. I will openly admit that this is one of my favorite books from Roman antiquity. Where else can you find a crazy market-inspector, a man who puts on the wrong ointment and is transformed into an ass, a beautiful telling of the story of Cupid and Psyche, working at a mill, and the goddess Isis? The Golden Ass is relatively long but not hard reading. Enjoy it! And think about magic in ancient Rome: was it good? bad? theatening? what role might it play in someone's life?

Monday, 5/8: Religion and Review

Review of major questions for the final exam.

Created by Ray Starr,
Created on 1/06
Last modified on 1/06
Expires on 7/1/06