Courses listed as CLASSICS (CLAS) are entirely in English and require no knowledge of an ancient language. Greek and Latin involve the study of the language itself.

 

Course

CLAS / History 201   Alexander the Great and the Problem of Empire

Professor

James Romm

CRN

15136

 

Schedule

Tu Th          1:30 2:50 pm        Olin 202

Distribution

OLD: C

NEW: History

Cross-listed: Human Rights

Alexander the Great changed the world more completely than any other human being, but did he change it for the better? How should his project of extending western power into Asia be regarded, especially in light of recent attempts by the U.S. to project power into the same regions once conquered by the Macedonians?  And how should Alexander himself be understood -- as a tyrant of Hitlerian proportions, or as a philosopher-king seeking to save the Greek world from self-destruction, or as an utterly deluded madman?  Such questions remain very much unresolved among modern historians.  In this course we will attempt to find our own answers (or lack of them) after reading thoroughly in the ancient sources concerning Alexander and examining as much primary evidence as can be gathered.  Students hopefully will attain insight not only into a cataclysmic period of history but into the moral and ideological complexities that surround the issue of empire, whether in antiquity or in the modern world.  No prerequisite, but students will be greatly helped by some familiarity with Greek history or prior exposure to Herodotus and/or Thucydides.

 

Course

LIT 204 CL    Comparative Literature A: Ancient Poetry – Making Words and Worlds

Professor

Benjamin Stevens

CRN

15375

 

Schedule

Tu Th          10:00  - 11:20 am  OLIN 201

Distribution

OLD: B

NEW: Literature in English

Cross-listed: Classical Studies

 “Poetry” comes from the Greek verb poiein, “to make”. Although the product of ancient poiesis is poetry, the purpose was to make not just words but also worlds. By using poetics in place of physics, as it were, Greek and Roman poetry linked aesthetics to ethics: words to be lived by structured worlds to be lived in. Poetry was the cornerstone of a verbal architecture of real and ideal social space. This course explores how Greek and Roman poetry is always making worlds, literary and other, out of words. Topics considered include the mechanics and conventions of ancient poetry; the historical contexts of the ancient Mediterranean; traditional topoi including myth; poetry in education; the problem of sources and influences; translation, allusion, imitation, and innovation; the roles played by poets, patrons, and audiences; responses to poetry as literary and social criticism; critical and subversive poetics; and textual transmission and the formation of the canon. Close attention is paid to themes, images, and tropes later to reappear throughout Western literature. Readings, all in English translation, include whole works and selections from Greek and Roman poets; ancient literary criticism; and modern criticism of Classical literature.

 

Course

CLAS 223   Comedy and its Problems

Professor

Carolyn Dewald

CRN

15102

 

Schedule

Tu Th          3:00  -4:20 pm      OLIN 203

Distribution

OLD: B

NEW:

In the ancient Greek and Roman world, comedy was one vehicle for exploring the fantasies, tensions, and dangers of communal life.  We will be reading comedies of Aristophanes, Menander, Plautus, and Terence, and will explore the evolution of ancient comedy as a genre, as well as  issues of class, gender, and politics as they are focused through the lens of comedy in the ancient city.  We will also consider some of the theoretical aspects of humor itself:  what makes these comedies funny, still, to us today?

 

Course

CLAS 350   Cosmology  and Ethics in the Axial Age

Professor

William Mullen

CRN

15120

 

Schedule

Wed             1:30  -2:50 pm      Olin L.C. 206

Fr                10:00  - 11:20 am  HDR

Distribution

OLD: n/a

NEW:

In 1949 the German philosopher Karl Jaspers fashioned the phrase "the Axial Age" to describe "the spiritual process that occurred between 800 and 200 B.C." across Eurasia, with a common axis in the period around 500 B.C.  Since at least the mid-19th century scholars have wondered whether it is more than coincidence that in those centuries Confucius and the "hundred schools" appeared in China, the Upanishads and the Buddha in India, Zoroaster in Persia, the principal prophets in Israel, and the philosophers in Greece.  Jaspers claims that "in this age were born the fundamental categories within which we still think today, and the beginning of the world religions by which human beings still live".  In each culture traditional cosmologies are reinterpreted or called into question, and for the thinkers leading these movements of thought their new cosmological thinking leads them to propose new bases for ethical systems.  This course will critically explore the interrelation of cosmology and ethics in the Axial Age.  We will read, from the five cultures at issue (Greek, Hebrew, Persian, Indian, Chinese), not only major texts of the principal thinkers but also samples of earlier texts representative of the traditions they were reinterpreting or challenging.   We will face problems of Eurasian chronology complicating the formulation of the temporal horizon in question.  We will ask what kinds of causes can be adduced to account for the contemporaneity of these intellectual and ethical transformations.  We will weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the very concept of an "axial age", whether for this or other periods.   And above all we will ask what parts of the ethical legacy of these thinkers are still influential today, after 2500 years of constantly changing cosmological thinking.

 

This will be a “Smolny Virtual Course”, taught by video-conference with a similar size seminar at Bard’s affiliated Smolny College in St. Petersburg, Russia, where students will be reading the same syllabus with Prof. Dmitri Panchenko.  The Wednesday meeting will be separate: Bard students will meet at Bard speaking in English, Smolny students at Smolny speaking in Russian.  The Friday class will be a joint session by video-conference, in which all will speak English, meeting at 10:00 a.m. Bard time and 6:00 p.m. Smolny time.  Because of size constraints in the videoconference facility, enrollment at both colleges will be limited to somewhere between 10 and 15 students.  Priory will be given to moderated Upper College students in Asian Studies, Chinese, Classical Studies, Jewish Studies, Philosophy, and Religion.  If you are interested you should contact Prof. Mullen (mullen@bard.edu, 758-7271) at least a week in advance of registration.  The list of those admitted will be posted by the morning of registration day.