CLSS-160 Introduction to Roman Literature
Spring for 2014-2015
The focus of this course will be on the so-called ‘classical’ phase of Latin, from its beginning in Rome in the 3rd century BC following its geographic and quantitative expansion through the 2nd century AD. The course will read many of the greatest authors and works from this period (including Cicero, Virgil, Ovid, and Apuleius among others – see List of Readings). A central goal of the course will be to examine the ways in which various genres (such as epic, history, or the novel) represent the relationship of humankind with gods and religion, and ultimately its position in a cosmic context; the public dimension of groups and individuals in politics and society; and the interaction of individuals with other individuals in such private contexts as the household, friendship, or even enmity. Along the way, students will engage with literary ideas about originality vs. tradition, historical objectivity vs. authorial subjectivity, and genre.
No knowledge of Latin language is required. In fact, one major goal of the course is to introduce students to classical antiquity for the first time, through one its main, best preserved and most exciting aspects – literature. Students will prepare for each class reading the texts assigned (see the Schedule of Readings). On each day of class, discussion will constitute most of the class session. This implies that students’ preparation, keeping up with the materials, and enthusiasm will be fundamental components of the class. The instructor will moderate discussions, clarify concepts, and introduce new knowledge, but the course will involve thoughtful participation and sharing of ideas on the part of students. Quizzes will be given regularly on the authors and topics discussed, and students will also be required to write two papers on various topics related to class discussions on assigned readings.
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: