CLA 4436:  Honors Ancient Greece

Office Hours and Syllabi :


Course Description


This course is designed to fit into the interdisciplinary, writing-intensive curriculum of the Honors College. It may be linked to courses in other disciplines, enhanced by a one-hour writing module, and, with approval of an advisor, may contribute to Honors concentration in  interdisciplinary philosophy, as well as to concentrations in literature, art or history. It fulfills 6,000 words of the Gordon Rule writing requirement.


The culture of Ancient Greece has been the object of continuing fascination and study throughout the subsequent history of Europe. This course is designed to introduce advanced undergraduates to principal artifacts and texts representative of Hellenic civilization from the Minoan to the Hellenistic period. Primary sources in literature, philosophy, historiography (in translation) and visual art will be the focus of study.  An interdisciplinary critical method will be employed, introducing students to a range of traditional and contemporary perspectives in humanities. Texts will be considered thematically, stylistically, and chronologically, in their social and political context, in order to give students a sense of their interconnection with one another and their historical situations.  Key aspects of the ancient Greek language will also be considered, with particular emphasis on the interactions between linguistic and cultural phenomena. Thus the principal concepts of the arts and sciences, insofar as they are derived from Greek origins, will be studied in philological dimension. The thematic and stylistic aspects of Greek cultural artifacts and texts, particularly from 600-399 BCE, will further be considered with a view to their influence on the European tradition.  The Gordon Rule writing requirement will be fulfilled in the sequence of assignments provided.  Ideally, upon completing the course you will have achieved a rich synthetic understanding of ancient Hellenic culture.


Gordon Rule Writing Requirement:

Because students in the Honors College may take upper-level courses as substitutes for lower-level ones in their core, it is appropriate to offer Gordon Rule classes at the junior and senior levels.

Writing will be the principal mode of evaluation here. An online guide to documentation styles will be employed (students may choose the style , e.g., MLA / Chicago, commensurate with their proposed concentration).

A series of critical essays will be assigned, focusing on the interpretation of primary sources. Essays will be evaluated in terms of grammar, mechanics, organization, style, and content.  Each student will write a minimum

of 6,000 words.


Students enrolled in this course agree to abide by the Honors College Honor Code.  Please review this important document:




1)      Three essays, each at least 1,000 words in length, each 20% of final grade:  60% total.

2)      A series of  ten in-class reading responses, each at least 250 words in length (totaling 2,500 words), altogether 30%.

3)      Class Presentation,  including 500 word prospectus and outline:  10%.

4)  Total minimum word-count for the class:  6,000. 

5)   Regular attendance is required and work must be written and turned in on time; repeated absences will result in a reduction in grade; assignments missed due to unexcused absences may not be made up.


Presentation:  Each of you will give talk on some topic relevant to the course during the final weeks of the semester.  You are encouraged to form small groups and coordinate your studies to produce a group presentation.  The list of recommended readings, below, is designed to assist you in your research.


You should purchase a copy of Muriel Harris, Writer's FAQ's, A Pocket Handbook, 2/e, 0-13-183125-9, available in the bookstore, for guidance in writing. 





Required Texts:

Aristophanes. Birds, Lysistrata, Assembly Women..  Stephen Haliwell, trans. (Oxford

2000, ISBN:  0192824082) 

Aeschylus.  Aeschylus I:  Oresteia. Trans.   (U of Chicago, 1990 0226307786).

---. Prometheus Bound. Trans.  Paul Roche (Carducci 1990, 0865162387)

Euripides.   Medea & Other Plays.  Trans. J. Morwood.  (Oxford 1998, ISBN:


Homer.  The Odyssey. Oxford. Trans. Walter Shewring (Oxford, ISBN 0192833758)

Lattimore, R.  The Greek Lyrics.  2nd Edition.  Chicago:  U of Chicago P, 1987. (ISBN:


Osborne, Robin.  Archaic and Classical Greek Art. (Oxford 1998, ISBN 0192842021)

Plato. Phaedo. David Gallop, trans.  (Oxford 1999, ISBN 0192839535)

Sophocles, H.D. Kitto, trans. Antigone, Oedipus the King, Electra (Oxford 2000 ,ISBN


Thucydides. On Justice, Power, and Human Nature. Trans. Paul Woodruff (Hackett 1993,  ISBN 872201686)


Recommended Readings: (these have been ordered for our library, though some may not have arrived).

Aristotle:  De Anima (On the Soul) Trans. R.D. Hicks. (Prometheus 1994, ISBN


Bernal, Martin.  Black Athena:  The Afro-Asiatic Roots of Classical Civilization. 2 Vols. Rutgers UP, 1989-1990.

---.  Black Athena Writes Back: Martin Bernal Responds to his Critics. Duke UP, 2001.

Bloom, H., ed. Aeschylus. Modern Critical Views Ser.  (Chesea House 1990,ISBN


---.  Euripides.  Modern Critical Views Ser.  (Chelsea House, 1988, ISBN 1555463177)

---.Sophocles' Oedipus Rex.  Modern Critical Interpretations Series.  (Chelsea House,

1988, ISBN 0877549184)

---.  Sophocles.  Modern Critical Views Ser.  Chelsea House, 1988,  ISBN 1555463231)

Boardman et al.  Oxford History of the Classical World:   Greece and the Hellenistic

World (Oxford 1988, ISBN 0192821652)

Burkert, Walter.  Homo Necans

---.  Greek Religion

Conacher, D. J.  Aeschylus' "Promethus Bound":  A Literary Commentary.  (Toronto,

1980, ISBN 0802023916)

Connor, W.R.   Prometheus Bound:   Greek Texts and Commentaries Series.  (Ayer 1979,

 ISBN 0405114516)

Dickenson, Oliver. The Aegean Bronze Age. Cambridge World Archaeology Ser.

(Cambridge 1994, ISBN 0521456649)

Euripides. Bacchae.  Trans. J. Morwood.  (Oxford 2000, ISBN: 019283875X)

Fine, G., ed.  Plato 2: Ethics, Politics, Religion & the Soul.  New York:  Oxford, 2000. 

Foucault, M.  The Care of the Self.   The History of Sexuality, Vols. 2. New York: 

Vintage, 1988.

Fullerton, Mark D. Greek Art (Cambridge 2000, 0521779731)

Hanson,  Victor D. The Other Greeks:  The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of

Western Civilization.  2nd Edition.  (U of California P, 1999, ISBN 0520209354)

Havelock, E.  Preface to Plato.  (Harvard, 1987, ISBN: 0674699068)

Heckman, Susan. Feminist Interpretations of Michel Foucault, Re-Reading

the Canon Ser.  Philadelphia: Penn State UP, 1996. 

Herodotus. The Histories.  Trans. R. Waterfield.   New York:  Oxford, 1999.

Homer.  Odyssey.  Trans. Robert Fagels. New York:  Penguin, 1997. (ISBN:


Humphreys, S. C.  Anthropology and the Greeks.  International Library of Anthropology. 

New York:  Routledge, n.d. (ISBN 0710087853 / 0710200161)

Middleton, Sue. Disciplining Sexuality: Foucault, Life Histories, &

         Education, Athens Ser.   New York:  Teachers' College Press, 1997. ISBN:


Morris, Ian. Archaeology as Cultural History: Words & Things in Iron Age Greece.

Social Archaeology Ser. (Blackwell 1999 ISBN 0631196021)

Nietzsche. F. Trans.Douglas Smith.The Birth of Tragedy (Oxford 1998, 0-19-283-292-1)

Nussbaum, M. and Rorty, A.O.  Essays on Aristotle's De Anima.  New York:  Oxford,

1995.  (ISBN: 019823600X)

Pantel, Pauline Schmitt, ed.  A History of Women I: From Ancient Goddesses to Christian

            Saints.  Cambridge:  Harvard, 1992.

Plato. Symposium.  Trans. Robin Waterfield.  New York: Oxford, 1998.

Pomeroy, S. Goddesses, Whores, Wives and Slaves:  Women in Classical Antiquity. New

York: Shocken, 1995.  (ISBN: 080521030X)

Snell, Bruno.  The Discovery of the Mind: The Greek Origins of European Thought.  New

York:  Dover, 1982.)

Sophocles:  Oedipus the King. Norton Critical Edition.  New York:  Norton, 1980.

St. Croix, G. E. de. The Class Struggle in the Ancient World.  Ithaca:  Cornell, 1989.

ISBN: 0801495970   

Thomson, George.  Aeschylus and Athens: Studies in Drama Series #39. (M.S.G House,

1987, ISBN 083830723X)

Thucydides.  The Pelopponesian War. Ed. Jenniver T. Roberts. Trans. Walter Blanco.  

Norton Critical Edition. New York:  Norton, 1998.



Ancient History Sourcebook:  Greece:

Architecture of Greece:

Art and Architecture of Greece:

Aristotle: Poetics:

Athens: Site and Monuments:

Athens, Mycenae, Knossos (Crete), Art and Artifacts):

Classical Art and Archaeology:

Council of the Areopagus:

Dictionary of Classical Myth:

Diotima:  Materials for the Study of Women and Gender:

Art History Resources: Greece

Episteme Links:

Exploring Plato’s Dialogues:

Greek Drama (an excellent course):

Herodotus:  Ancient History Sourcebook:

Internet Ancient History Sourcebook:

---.  Thucydides

The Internet Classics Archive:

Maecenas:  Images of Ancient Greece and Rome:

Minoan and Mycenaean arts:

Map (overview) of Greece and eastern Mediterranean:

Map of the Peloponnesian War (Athenian and Spartan alliances):

Minoan Archaeological Sites, Museum:

MLA Style Manual:

Mycenae:  Linear B Tablets:

Mycenaean Tour:                                

­---. Collapse of Mycenaean Palatial Civilization:

Parthenon: Great Buildings Online:

Parthenon: 3-D Model:

The Perseus Project:

Resources for Greek Art and Archaeology:

Sources for Thucydides:

Thucydides:  Ancient History Thucydides History (complete text):

Thucydides Mythistoricus:


Film:  Coen, Ethan and Joel. Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? (based on the Odyssey)




Week                                                                                                                                                     Activities                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Aug. 25-29

1                                            Course introduction.  Overview of ancient Greek civilization.  Minoan culture on Crete, mythological and historical pictures. The story of Theseus, Ariadne, and the Minotaur.  The art and architecture of Knossos:  palatial design, columnar style, frescoes, pottery designs, vase painting, sculpture. Minoan Writing:  Linear A.  Cycladic cultures.  Readings:  Homer, Odyssey, books 1-2. Osborne, Ch. 1. In-class response 1.


Sept. 1-5

2                                            The Bronze age on the Greek mainland.  Mycenaean culture: a new style in architecture and art:  palatial design,  pottery designs, vase painting, relief sculpture, the Lion Gate of Mycenae, tomb construction, handiwork in  gold, ivory, and faience.  Comparisons with Minoan works. The burial mask of "Agamemnon."  Greek myth and history in Mycenae:  background of the Odyssey.  The story of the Trojan war and the excavation of Troy. Mycenaean writing, Linear B:  early Greek.  Greek religion.  Readings:  Odyssey, continued. In-class response 2.


Sept. 8-12

3                                            The Greek "Dark Age."  The fall of Mycenae, the loss of literacy, migrations, late Mycenaean pottery styles, Protogeometric vase painting and sculpture, the rise of oral-heroic poetry in the Greek epic:  the Odyssey.  The Geometric period in Greek vase painting and sculpture. Readings:  Odyssey, complete. Osborne, Ch. 2. In-class response 3 .


Sept. 15-19

4                                            Greek Colonization of  Asia Minor, Ionia, Orientalizing styles in pottery. History, myth and literature.  The transition from orality to literacy. Philosophy and lyric poetry. Readings:  Osborne, Chs. 3-5. Lattimore, Greek Lyrics, pp. 1-47.  Filmic Interlude:  Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? In-class response 4.


Sept. 22-26

5                                            The Archaic to the early Classical periods:  the emergence of monumental sculpture in marble, Kouros and Kore figures, the black-figure style in vase painting, shift in figure-ground relations, the emergence of idealized naturalism, the combination of geometric with realistic styles.  Greek Lyric poetry.  The construction of European subjectivity as evidenced in lyric poetry:   Readings from Lattimore, pp. 47-82; Osborne, Ch. 6; Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound; from epic poetry to rational ontology: Parmenides Fragments On Nature: and  Essay I due Tuesday.


Sept. 29-Oct. 3

6                                            Early classical literature with Archaic thematic and historical dimensions.  The classical polis as hero; myth, literature, history and early Greek philosophy. Myth, History, Tragedy, Artistry--and Agriculture.  The Other Greeks? The Persian Wars,  Pericles and the ascendancy of Athenian power.  Readings:  Osborne, Ch. 7,  Aeschylus, Oresteia, Herodotus (online).  In-class response 5. 



Oct. 6-10

7                                            The Golden Age of Athens.  Classical Greek Art. Architecture and Sculpture of the Acropolis. Classical style in architecture, sculpture, vase painting (the red-figure style) and tragic poetry.  Readings:  Sophocles' Antigone, Electra. Thucydides, Ch. 1, “Early History and Method.”  Osborne, Ch. 9. In-class response  6. Aristotle’s Poetics:


Oct. 13-17

8                                            Classical Greek culture, at its height and on the brink  The canons of composition in classical Greek poetry:  translating Oidipous Tyrannos; Aristotle's analysis of tragedy:  art as mimęsis, the nature of tragic katharsis,  plot structure, character, thought, diction, melody, spectacle.  Greek metrics and its influence on the European literary tradition.  Readings:  Sophocles:  Oedipus the King; Thucydides,  Chs. 2-3, “Origins of the War,”  Pericles and the Plague.”  In-class response 7.



Oct. 20-24

9                                            Greek Historiography and Tragedy:  Thucydides, Chs. 4-5, “Justice and Power: Plataea and Mytilene,” “Human Nature Laid Bare in Civil War”;  Euripides' Medea. Osborne, Ch. 10. Peter Green, “War and Morality in Fifth-Century Athens:  The Case of Euripides’ Trojan Women.” Two critical perspectives on tragedy.  Ancient History Bulletin  Aristotle's Poetics  (Also see Perseus Project translation ). 


Oct. 27-31

10                                        Gender,Power, Justice:  Readings:  Euripides, Hippolytus, Electra. “Gay Abandon”:  Osborne, Ch. 8. In-class response 8.  Thucydides, Ch. 6, “Acanthus and Melos.” Essay II Due.


Nov. 3-7

11                                        Greek Comedy, Aristophanes, Birds.  An Image from Birds . Women in Rebellion, Aristophanes' Lysistrata. 



Nov. 10-14 (Nov. 11, Veterans Day Holiday)

12                    Comedy, Tragedy and Philosophy: Aristophanes,  Assembly  Women  Plato’s Symposium: .  Late classical Greek art and the turn toward Hellenism: Osborne 11. Thucydides, Ch. 7, “The Sicilian Expedition.”  In-class response 9.


Nov. 17-21

13                    Comedy and Philosophy:  Plato’s Phaedo.  Socrates as comic hero? Idealism or escapism? Osborne Chs.12-13. Thucydides, Ch. 8, “The Aftermath.” In-class resp. 10.  Oral Presentations & Discussion       



Nov. 24-28 (Nov. 27 Thanksgiving Holiday)

14                    Oral Presentations & Discussion



Dec. 1, Dec. 3 Reading Day

15                    Oral Presentations & Discussion


Dec. 4-11 Final Exam Period


16                    Final Exam Week:    Essay III Due by Tuesday, Dec. 9, 3:30  PM