Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook

Classics (CLAS)

CLAS 1010  (c, FYS)   Identity and Experience in the Ancient Mediterranean  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 16.  

Examines how ancient Greeks and Romans thought about their own identities and those of the populations around them. Explores how factors such as race and ethnicity, gender, and social class influenced the way people in the ancient Mediterranean understood and experienced their world. Questions why the Egyptians seemed so strange to the Greek author Herodotus. Did an Athenian immigrant living in Rome feel like a Greek, a Roman, or some combination of the two? Considers how women or freed slaves chose to express their identities through the tombs they built for themselves. Examines texts from ancient authors like Homer and Tacitus, objects, and art--including materials from the Bowdoin College Museum of Art--in order to study how identities could be created and negotiated in the ancient world.

Previous terms offered: Fall 2017.

CLAS 1011  (c)   Shame, Honor, and Responsibility  

Jennifer Clarke Kosak.
Non-Standard Rotation. Fall 2021. Enrollment limit: 16.
  

Examines Greek and Roman notions of responsibility to family, state, and self, and the social ideals and pressures that shaped ancient attitudes towards duty, shame, and honor. Readings may include works by Homer, Sophocles, Euripides, Virgil, Ovid, and Petronius.

Previous terms offered: Fall 2020.

CLAS 1017  (c)   The Heroic Age: Ancient Supermen and Wonder Women  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 16.  

The modern concept of the superhero is an enduring vestige of the ancient concept of the hero, the ancient Greek word used to describe men of exceptional ability. Looks at heroes and heroines in ancient literature and culture, considering a range of sources from ancient Babylon to imperial Rome. Considers the changing definition of hero, the cultural values associated with heroism, the role played by gender and sexuality in the definition of the hero, and analogues to ancient heroes in modern cinema. Examines more nebulous and problematic models for the ancient villain and considers how contrasting definitions of hero and antihero can be used to understand ancient thought concerning human nature.

Previous terms offered: Fall 2020, Fall 2019.

CLAS 1025  (c)   Ancient Empires and Ancient Others: Power, Ethnicity, and Identity in the Ancient Mediterranean  

Joshua Hartman.
Non-Standard Rotation. Fall 2021. Enrollment limit: 16.
  

What was it like to live in the ancient Mediterranean? For hundreds of years (e.g., 200 BCE–600 CE), the answer to this question would depend, at least in part, on where someone lived and how they identified themselves in relationship to the Roman empire and its centers of power. This course examines not only what it may have been like to live within the Roman empire as a person who identified with other ancient communities, but also attempts to understand what contact with the Romans would have been like for people who lived under other ancient political systems. What were encounters with the Roman world like for those far away from Rome, for example, on trade routes that connected Rome to India? What was life like for those oppressed by Roman authority, who lived as colonized subjects or enslaved people? This course approaches these questions by directly examining ancient evidence, such as texts from within and beyond the Roman world, as well as the work of modern scholars.

CLAS 1101  (c, IP)   Classical Mythology  

Michael Nerdahl.
Every Other Spring. Fall 2021. Enrollment limit: 50.
  

Focuses on the mythology of the Greeks and the use of myth in classical literature. Other topics considered are recurrent patterns and motifs in Greek myths; a cross-cultural study of ancient creation myths; the relation of mythology to religion; women’s roles in myth; and the application of modern anthropological, sociological, and psychological theories to classical myth. Concludes with an examination of Ovid’s use of classical mythology in the “Metamorphoses.”

Previous terms offered: Spring 2021, Spring 2020, Spring 2018.

CLAS 1111  (c, IP)   History of Ancient Greece: From Homer to Alexander the Great  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 50.  

Surveys the history of Greek-speaking peoples from the Bronze Age (ca. 3000-1100 B.C.E) to the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C.E. Traces the political, economic, social, religious, and cultural developments of the Greeks in the broader context of the Mediterranean world. Topics include the institution of the polis (city-state); hoplite warfare; Greek colonization; the origins of Greek science; philosophy and rhetoric; and fifth-century Athenian democracy and imperialism. Necessarily focuses on Athens and Sparta, but attention is also given to the variety of social and political structures found in different Greek communities. Special attention is given to examining and attempting to understand the distinctively Greek outlook in regard to gender, the relationship between human and divine, freedom, and the divisions between Greeks and barbarians (non-Greeks). A variety of sources -- literary, epigraphical, archaeological -- are presented, and students learn how to use them as historical documents. Note: This course is part of the following field(s) of study: Europe. It fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors and minors. (Same as: HIST 1111)

Previous terms offered: Fall 2019.

CLAS 1112  (c, IP)   History of Ancient Rome: From Romulus to Justinian  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 50.  

Surveys the history of Rome from its beginnings to the fourth century A.D. Considers the political, economic, religious, social, and cultural developments of the Romans in the context of Rome’s growth from a small settlement in central Italy to the dominant power in the Mediterranean world. Special attention is given to such topics as urbanism, imperialism, the influence of Greek culture and law, and multiculturalism. Introduces different types of sources -- literary, epigraphical, archaeological, etc. -- for use as historical documents. Note: This course is part of the following field(s) of study: Europe. It fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors and minors. (Same as: HIST 1112)

Previous terms offered: Fall 2020.

CLAS 2102  (c)   Socrates and the Problem of History  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

Explores the figure of Socrates as he is represented in various texts and artifacts in order to introduce students to problems of historical method. By closely reading authors such as Plato, Xenophon, Aristophanes, and Aristotle, students learn how to reconstruct a model of Socrates that is less idealized, but more historically accurate, than the Socrates we encounter in the historical imagination and popular culture. This course introduces students to methodological issues regarding evidence and argument that are directly relevant not only to ancient history and ancient philosophy, but to the epistemological contests currently taking place in our present moment.

Previous terms offered: Spring 2019.

CLAS 2202  (c, IP)   Augustan Rome  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

Upon his ascent to power after a century of war, Rome’s first princeps, Augustus, launched a program of cultural reformation and restoration that was to have a profound and enduring effect upon every aspect of life in the empire, from fashions in entertainment, decoration, and art, to religious and political habits and customs. Using the city of Rome as its primary text, this course investigates how the Augustan “renovation” of Rome is manifested first and foremost in the monuments associated with the ruler: the Mausoleum of Augustus, theater of Marcellus, temple of Apollo on the Palatine, Altar of Augustan Peace, and Forum of Augustus as well as many others. Understanding of the material remains themselves is supplemented by historical and literary texts dating to Augustus’s reign, as well as by a consideration of contemporary research and controversies in the field. (Same as: ARCH 2202, URBS 2402)

Previous terms offered: Spring 2020, Spring 2018.

CLAS 2210  (c)   Reacting to Democracy  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 28.  

Explores the nature of democracy in two distinct historical eras: ancient Greece and the founding of the United States. Employs well-developed classroom simulations. The first half of the semester runs "The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 BCE"; the second, "America’s Founding: The Constitutional Convention of 1787." Students take on roles of historical personae in both of these simulations, which permit them to explore critical events and ideas in novel ways. Pairing games that explore the foundations of democracy in both ancient and modern times permits exploration of this important topic across time and space. (Same as: HIST 2144)

Previous terms offered: Fall 2017.

CLAS 2214  (c, IP)   The Republic of Rome and the Evolution of Executive Power  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

Examines in depth the approaches to leadership within the governmental system that enabled a small, Italian city-state to take eventual control of the Mediterranean world and how this state was affected by its unprecedented military, economic, and territorial growth. Investigates and re-imagines the political maneuverings of the most famous pre-Imperial Romans, such as Scipio Africanus, the Gracchi, and Cicero, and how political institutions such as the Roman Senate and assemblies reacted to and dealt with military, economic, and revolutionary crises. Looks at the relationship of the Roman state to class warfare, the nature of electoral politics, and the power of precedent and tradition. While examining whether the ultimate fall precipitated by Caesar's ambition and vision was inevitable, also reveals what lessons, if any, modern politicians can learn about statesmanship from the transformation of the hyper-competitive atmosphere of the Republic into the monarchical principate of Augustus. All sources, such as Livy's history of Rome, Plutarch's “Lives,” letters and speeches of Cicero, and Caesar's “Civil War,” are in English, and no prior knowledge of Roman antiquity is required. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors and minors. (Same as: HIST 2008)

Previous terms offered: Spring 2019.

CLAS 2224  (c, IP)   City and Country in Roman Culture  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

We are all now quite familiar with the way in which the American political landscape has been painted (by the pundits at least) in two contrasting colors: Blue and Red. These “states of mind” have become strongly associated with particular spatial differences as well: Urban and Rural, respectively. Examines the various ways in which Roman culture dealt with a similar divide at different times in its history. Explores the manner in which “urban” and “rural” are represented in Roman literature and visual arts, and how and why these representations changed over time, as well as the realities and disparities of urban and rural material culture. Studies the city and the country in sources as varied as Roman painting, sculpture, architecture, and archaeology, and in Roman authors such as Varro, Vergil, Horace, Pliny and Juvenal. Modern authors will also be utilized as points of comparison. Analyzes how attitudes towards class, status, gender and ethnicity have historically manifested themselves in location, movement, consumption and production. One of the main goals of the course is to challenge our modern urban vs. rural polarity by looking at a similar phenomenon within the context of Roman history. (Same as: URBS 2424)

Previous terms offered: Fall 2018.

CLAS 2232  (c, VPA)   Ancient Greek Theater  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

Examines the development and character of tragedy and comedy in ancient Greece. Topics include the dramatic festivals of Athens, the nature of Greek theaters and theatrical production; the structure and style of tragic and comic plays; tragic and comic heroism; gender, religion and myth in drama; the relationship of tragedy and comedy to the political and social dynamics of ancient Athens. Some attention will be paid to the theory of tragedy and to the legacy of Greek drama. Authors include Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. Includes a performance component.

Previous terms offered: Spring 2020.

CLAS 2238  (c, IP)   The Politics of Memory: Commemoration in Ancient Greece and Rome  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

How will we be remembered? How should we be remembered? And how do we decide to honor or sanction events that have occurred or people who have died, whether in the past or in our own lifetimes? This course explores these questions by comparing the commemorative practices of ancient Greece and Rome with those of our own time. Examines public and private memorials to those who have died, including poems, eulogies, mausoleums, statues, and gravestones, along with tributes to those who have triumphed (and sometimes those who have lost), whether on the battlefield or in less deadly contests. Also considers practices such as damnatio memoriae (erasure from historical memory) and ancestor worship, literary tropes such as "immortality through song," and the changing interpretation and reuse of commemorative monuments over time. Includes analysis of materials in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, as well as field trips to local cemeteries and memorials. All readings in English.

Previous terms offered: Spring 2021.

CLAS 2241  (c, IP)   The Transformations of Ovid  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

Transformation is both a translation of the title of Ovid’s greatest work, the "Metamorphoses," the theme of which is mythical transformation, and a term that can be aptly applied as well to the life and work of Ovid, whose wildly successful social and literary career was radically transformed in 8 A.D. by Augustus’s decree of exile, from which Ovid was never to return. The work transformation also captures the essence of Ovid’s literary afterlife, during which his work has taken on new incarnations in the creative responses of novelists, poets, dramatists, artists, and composers. Begins with an overview of Ovid’s poetry; culminates in a careful reading and discussion of the formal elements and central themes of the "Metamorphoses." Also examines Ovid’s afterlife, with special attention paid to his inter-textual presence in the works of Shakespeare, Franz Kafka, Joseph Brodsky, Ted Hughes, Cristoph Ransmayr, Antonio Tabucchi, David Malouf, and Mary Zimmerman. All readings in English.

Previous terms offered: Spring 2019.

CLAS 2242  (c, VPA)   Hercules Goes to Hollywood: Ancient Greece and Rome in Cinema  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

Examines the presentation and reception of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds in cinema. Considers how filmmakers interpret ancient Greece and Rome for the silver screen and modern audiences. Questions how Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra differs from the ancient queen; why Hollywood allows the slave in “Gladiator” to become more powerful than an emperor; why ancient audiences continue to be fascinated with the ancient world; and how ancient texts are changed to fit modern expectations. Integrates the reading of ancient authors with the viewing of films based on these texts, such as “Chi-Raq,” to explore both the ancient world and its modern reinterpretation by today's filmmakers. (Same as: CINE 2670)

Previous terms offered: Spring 2018.

CLAS 2350  (c, IP)   Myth in Arabic Literature: From the Qur’an to Modern Poetry and Prose  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

Examines various myths in Arabic literature in translation. Discusses how myths of different origins (Ancient Near East, Greco-Roman Mediterranean, Ancient Arabia, Iran, India, Judeo-Christian traditions) have been reinterpreted and used in Arabic-speaking cultures from the sixth until the twenty-first century, to deal with questions such as the struggle of people against gods, their defiance against fate, their quest for salvation, their pursuit of a just society, and their search for identity. Explores various genres of Arabic literature from the Qur’an, the hadith (i.e., prophetic sayings), ancient and modern poetry, medieval prose and travel literature, "1001 Nights", Egyptian shadow theater, and modern short stories and novels. In this way, presents Arabic literature as global, rooted in different ancient traditions and dealing with the perennial questions of humanity. (Same as: ARBC 2350, REL 2350)

Previous terms offered: Spring 2019.

CLAS 2736  (c)   Ancient Greek Medicine  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 16.  

Seminar. Explores the development of scientific thinking in the ancient Greek world by examining the history of Greek medicine. Topics include the development of Greek rationalist thought; concepts of health and disease; notions of the human body, both male and female; the physician’s skills (diagnosis, prognosis, remedy); similarities and differences between religious and scientific views of disease; concepts of evidence, proof, and experiment; and Greek medical thinking in the Roman world. All readings in English. This course emphasizes the skills and approaches to writing in the Classics discipline.

Previous terms offered: Fall 2019.

CLAS 2757  (c)   Tacitus: On How to be a Good Citizen under a Bad Emperor  

Robert Sobak.
Non-Standard Rotation. Fall 2021. Enrollment limit: 16.
  

Can one honorably serve, and even flourish under, a leader who is widely understood to be dishonest, incompetent, and corrupt? Before the Roman author Tacitus was a historian, he was a senator who advanced himself politically during the rule of Domitian, who was arguably the very worst of the Roman emperors. As a central focus, a careful reading of the works of Tacitus, with accompanying secondary scholarship, seeks to answer the question of how and when to collaborate with a deplorable regime and what such collaboration might cost. All readings in English.

Prerequisites: CLAS 1112 (same as HIST 1112) or CLAS 2202 (same as ARCH 2202 and URBS 2402) or CLAS 2214 (same as HIST 2008) or ARCH 1102 (same as ARTH 2100).

Previous terms offered: Fall 2018.

CLAS 2777  (c)   From Tyranny to Democracy: Models of Political Freedom in Ancient Greece  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 16.  

Most Greek city-states entered the Archaic Period as aristocracies, but exited the Classical Period as democracies. This transition was marked by the brief but widespread emergence of individual rulers: tyrants. Analyzes how tyranny, surprisingly, was a precursor to democracy. Readings include Herodotus and Plato, as well as drinking songs, inscriptions, and curse poetry. Secondary scholarship includes studies of modern popular resistance to despotic regimes, networks of economic associations as foundations for popular governance, and game-theoretic approaches to collective action problems. Note: This course is part of the following field(s) of study: Europe. It fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors and minors. (Same as: HIST 2237)

Previous terms offered: Fall 2017.

CLAS 2787  (c)   Thucydides and the Invention of Political Theory  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 16.  

Thucydides is arguably the classical author who speaks to our present moment most clearly. He is cited as an authority on US-China relations, on the twin crises of democratic governance and ideology, on the rise of populist politics, and is generally recognized as the founder of the study of international relations. A sustained and focused reading of the Peloponnesian War is central to this course of study. Students also read selections from other ancient Athenian authors, such as Euripides, Plato, and Aristotle, as well as modern scholarly interpretations. All readings in English. Note: This course is part of the following field(s) of study: Europe. It fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors and minors. (Same as: HIST 2238)

Previous terms offered: Spring 2018.

CLAS 3306  (c)   Leadership, Morality, and the Ancients: The Works of Plutarch  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 10.  

“One cannot read Plutarch without a tingling of the blood.” A prolific author, Plutarch produced dynamic writings on such topics as education, self-improvement, the nature of the soul, the virtues of men and women, music, natural science, vegetarianism, and love. His eclectic philosophical thought culminated in his greatest work, the “Parallel Lives,” a collection of biographies on statesmanship designed to present examples from Greco-Roman history—like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, not to mention preeminent leaders from Sparta and Athens—to serve as mirrors for ethical self-reflection. Considers the context of Plutarch’s philosophy and literary presentation and how they relate to modern leadership, ethical behavior, multi-cultural understanding, and the utility of moral instruction. Readings likely to include works of Plato as well as selections from Plutarch’s “Moralia” and “Parallel Lives.” All readings in English. Research Seminar.

Prerequisites: CLAS 1100 - 1999 or ARCH 1100 - 1999 or GRK 1100 - 1999 or LATN 1100 - 1999 or CLAS 2000 - 2969 or ARCH 2000 - 2969 or GRK 2000 - 2969 or LATN 2000 - 2969.

Previous terms offered: Fall 2018.

CLAS 3309  (c, IP)   Ancient Epic: Tradition, Authority, and Intertextuality  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 16.  

Begins with reading and close analysis of the three foundational epic poems of classical antiquity, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid, and then moves on to selections from several of the “successor” epics, including Apollonius’ Argonautica, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Lucan’s Pharsalia, and Statius’ Thebaid. Discussion of the ancient poems complemented by an ongoing examination of central issues in contemporary criticism of classical texts, including the relationship of genre, ideology, and interpretation; the tension between literary tradition and authorial control; and the role of intertextuality in establishing a dialogue between and among these poems and their poets. All readings are in English, and no familiarity with Greek or Latin is required.

Prerequisites: CLAS 1101 - 1102 or CLAS 1111 (same as HIST 1111)- 1112 or CLAS 1000 - 1049 or CLAS 2000 - 2969 or GRK 1101 or LATN 1101.

Previous terms offered: Fall 2017.

CLAS 3310  (c, IP)   Imagining Rome  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 16.  

The mythical fate-driven foundation of Rome and the city’s subsequent self-fashioning as caput mundi (capital of the world) have made the city an idea that transcends history, and that has for millennia drawn historians, poets, artists, and, most recently, filmmakers to attempt to capture Rome’s essence. As a result, the city defined by its ruins is continually created anew; this synergy between the ruins of Rome -- together with the mutability of empire that they represent -- and the city’s incessant rebirth through the lives of those who visit and inhabit it offers a model for understanding the changing reception of the classical past. This research seminar explores the cycle of ancient Rome’s life and afterlife in the works of writers and filmmakers such as Livy, Virgil, Tacitus, Juvenal, Petrarch, Shakespeare, Keats, Goethe, Gibbon, Hawthorne, Freud, Moravia, Rossellini, Fellini, Bertolucci, and Moretti. All readings in English. (Same as: URBS 3410)

Prerequisites: ARCH 1102 (same as ARTH 2100) or ARCH 2201 or higher or CLAS 1000 or higher or GRK 1000 or higher or LATN 1000 or higher.

Previous terms offered: Spring 2021, Fall 2019.

CLAS 3325  (c)   Deadly Words: Language and Power in the Religions of Antiquity  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 16.  

In the ancient Mediterranean world, speech was fraught with danger and uncertainty. Words had enormous power—not just the power to do things but a tangible power as things. Words attached themselves to people as physical objects. They lived inside them and consumed their attention. They set events in motion: war, conversion, marriage, death, and salvation. This course investigates the precarious and deadly presence of oral language in the religious world of late antiquity (150 CE to 600 CE). Focusing on evidence from Christian, Jewish, and pagan sources—rabbinic literature, piyyutim, curse tablets, amulets, monastic sayings, creeds, etc.—students will come to understand the myriad ways in which words were said to influence and infect religious actors. For late ancient writers, words were not fleeting or ethereal, but rather quite tactile objects that could be felt, held, and experienced. It is the physical encounter with speech that orients this course. (Same as: REL 3325)

Previous terms offered: Spring 2019.