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REL 216
Greek Art and the Gods Spring 2020
Division II
Cross-listed CLAS 248 / ARTH 238 / REL 216

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In the Iliad, when the god Apollo is visualized, it is as a man, angry in his heart, coming down from the peaks of Olympos, bow and quiver on his shoulders, the arrows clanging as the god moves, “like the coming of night,” to bring dogs, horses, and men to their deaths. By the end of the Classical period, one statue of the archer god depicted him as a boy teasing a lizard. In this course, we will examine the development of the images the Greek gods and goddesses, from their superhuman engagement in the heroic world of epic, to their sometimes sublime artistic presence, complex religious function, and transformation into metaphors in aesthetic and philosophical thought. The course will cover the basic stylistic, iconographical, narrative, and ritual aspects of the gods and goddesses in ancient Greek culture. The course will address in detail influential artistic monuments, literary forms, and social phenomena, including the sculptures of Olympia and the Parthenon; divine corporeality in poetry; the theology of mortal-immortal relations; the cultural functions of visual representations of gods, and the continued interest in the gods long after the end of antiquity. Readings assignments will include selections from Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, Aischylos, Euripides, Plato, Walter Burkert, Jean-Pierre Vernant, Nikolaus Himmelmann, Erika Simon, and Friedrich Nietzsche.
The Class: Format: lecture; discussion
Limit: 40
Expected: 30
Class#: 3242
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: short writing assignments, midterm exam, final exam, final paper
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: preference will be given to pre-registered Art-History majors needing to fulfill the pre-1800 requirement; otherwise, the course is open to any interested student
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
CLAS 248 Division I ARTH 238 Division I REL 216 Division II
Attributes: ARTH pre-1800 Courses

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