In the Iliad, Paris’ desire for the famously beautiful Helen leads to the Trojan War, the devastating conflict between the Trojans and the Greeks retold and reimagined time and again in ancient Greek literature. The stories of Troy and its aftermath were performed not only as epic poems (as in the Iliad and the Odyssey), but also evoked by lyric song, dramatized on the tragic stage, and recounted in oratory. Beginning with the Homeric epics, this course explores the recurring and ever-shifting debates, longings, hostilities, and aspirations that drive Greek literature and shape its reception, paying special attention to questions of performance context and audience. We will consider, for example, how the competitive and erotically-charged environment of the Greek symposium is crucial for understanding both Sappho’s songs and the philosophical dialogues of Plato and Xenophon. The nexus of performance, conflict, and desire will give us a distinct perspective on many important topics within the study of Greek culture, including the construction of personal and collective identity, the workings of Athenian democracy, and the development of literary genres. This course will include readings from the works of, e.g., Homer, Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Thucydides, and Plato, and assignments will incorporate interactive and experiential elements, such as recitations, staged readings, and debates. All readings are in translation.
The Class: Format: lecture
Requirements/Evaluation: two medium-length essays, final exam, active participation, preparation for and participation in debates and staged readings (short writing assignments, in-class presentations).
Enrollment Preferences: Classics majors, first years, sophomores
Distributions: Division I