COMP 288
Insult to Injury: Satire and Comic Abuse in Ancient Greece and Rome
Last Offered Spring 2017
Division I Writing Skills
Cross-listed COMP 288 / CLAS 228
This course is not offered in the current catalog or this is a previous listing for a current course.

Class Details

Glutton, pervert, demagogue, sycophant, social climber, spendthrift, witch: these insults can tell us a great deal about the social structure, gender norms, values, and anxieties of the societies that use them. In this course, we will consider verbal attacks from ancient Greece and Rome, covering a variety of abuse ranging from the everyday to the most elaborately stylized: graffiti, curse tablets, law-court invective (Lysias, Demosthenes, Cicero), iambic and satiric verse (Archilochus, Hipponax, Catullus, Horace, Martial, Juvenal), and abuse on the comic stage (Aristophanes, Plautus). How do these attacks differ according to genre and performance context? Conversely, what cultural patterns unite this diverse body of material? Who is targeted, and what behaviors do the insults attempt to police? What does the person casting blame stand to gain? How does the rhetoric of insult intersect with the construction of gender? To what extent is it helpful or misleading to think of Greek and Roman invective in terms of modern genres such as the political campaign attack ad or the rap battle? We will hone our analyses with secondary readings drawn from classics, comparative literature, and anthropology. All readings are in translation.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 15
Class#: 3945
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: several short papers of varying length (two to five pages) and a longer final paper (eight to ten pages)
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first and second year students, intending majors in Classics and Comparative literature
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
COMP 288 Division I CLAS 228 Division I

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