Greek Mythology and Religion

A survey of the myths of the gods and heroes of ancient Greece, with a view to their original context in Greek art and literature as well as their place in Greek religion. We will give particular attention to myths that live on in Western art and literature, in order to become familiar with the stories which were part of the repertory of later artists and authors. Three class hours per week.

Limited to 75 students. Fall semester. Professor R. Sinos.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023


Greek Civilization

(Offered as CLAS 123 and SWAG 123)  We read in English the major authors from Homer in the 8th century BCE to Plato in the 4th century in order to trace the emergence of epic, lyric poetry, tragedy, comedy, history, and philosophy. How did the Greek enlightenment, and through it Western culture, emerge from a few generations of people moving around a rocky archipelago? How did oral and mythological traditions develop into various forms of “rationality”: science, history, and philosophy? What are the implications of male control over public and private life and the written record? What can be inferred about ancient women if they cannot speak for themselves in the texts?  Other authors include Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Thucydides.  The course seeks to develop the skills of close reading and persuasive argumentation. Three class hours per week.

Omitted 2017-18.


Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2023


Roman Civilization

A study of Roman civilization from its origins to the Empire, with emphasis on major Roman writers. The material will be interpreted in the light of Roman influence upon later Western civilization. The reading will be almost entirely from Latin literature, but no knowledge of the ancient language is required. Three class hours per week.

Limited to 50 students. Fall semester.  Professor Zanker.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022


Sport and Spectacle in Ancient Greece and Rome

(Offered as CLAS 126 and THDA 126)  Olympics. Greek drama. Gladiators. When we think of ancient Greece and Rome, athletic competition and public performance loom large. In this course, students will learn about archaic Greek musical and athletic competitions, Classical Athenian dramatic festivals, and the gladiatorial spectacles of imperial Rome. We will examine the representation of performance and athletics in art and literature, using primary sources to explore contemporary attitudes towards these events and to understand their role within society. We will pay attention to the politics and aesthetics of “sport and spectacle,” using a set of ancient case studies as a springboard to broader conversations about the social import of performance, competition, and entertainment. 

Limited to 40 students. Spring semester. Professor Olsen.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018


Archaeology of Greece

Excavations in Greece continue to uncover a rich variety of material remains that are altering and improving our understanding of ancient Greek life. By tracing the architecture, sculpture, and other finds from major sanctuaries, habitations, and burial places, this course will explore the ways in which archaeological evidence illuminates economic, political, philosophical, and religious developments in Greece from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic Period. Three class hours per week.

Spring semester. Professor R. Sinos.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2018, Spring 2022


History of the Roman Empire

This course considers the Roman Empire at its height, tracing the political, social, and religious changes that shaped Rome from the death of Julius Caesar through the fifth century CE.  We will seek to understand the longevity of this extraordinary empire as well as the roots of its eventual decline.  Using literary, historiographical, and archaeological sources, we will see how Rome's once unitary society was challenged and transformed by the diverse cultures and religions of its empire. 

Omitted 2017-18.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2015


History of Rome

This course examines the political and social systems and struggles that marked Rome's growth from a small city-state to a world empire. Through various sources (Roman works in translation and material evidence) we will focus on the development of the republican form of government and its transformation into an empire. We will study also the daily life of the people and the impact of Christianity on the Roman Empire. Three class hours per week.

Omitted 2017-18.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023


Re-Imagining the Classics

(Offered as CLAS-154 and THDA-154)  How can we look back to classic plays that were written one or two millennia ago and use them as the basis for a new piece of art that will be relevant and inspiring to a contemporary audience?

This course will explore how artists from various media--theater, film, TV, dance, music, painting--have interpreted and re-authored classical texts. We will discuss western classics as well as canonical texts from Japan, India, Africa and Latin America.

Are there any shared fundamental human elements among these very different continents and cultures? What made these texts enter the eternal dramatic canon of our civilization? Why are artists from various disciplines constantly attracted to re-authoring these classics? How can we build upon these works of the past to create something new, personal and relevant to our time?

The course will examine these questions using a variety of audio-visual examples, dramatic and critical texts, and studio exercises.  Students will also re-author a classical text as a contemporary piece, in various artistic media.

Limited to 20 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Eliraz.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2017

390, 490

Special Topics

Fall and spring semesters. Members of the Department.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023

498, 499

Senior Departmental Honors

Spring semester. Members of the Department.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023

Classical Civilization


Greek History

A chronological survey of ancient Greece from the Bronze Age to the age of Alexander, with attention to the wars that punctuated and to large extent defined the different phases of Greek history.  We will use primary sources, including not only the fundamental histories of Herodotus and Thucydides but also other texts and monuments, to examine a range of perspectives of war and its effects.

Omitted 2017-18.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2016, Spring 2021


Greek Drama

(Offered as CLAS 138 and SWAG 138) This course addresses the staging of politics and gender in selected plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, with attention to performance and the modern use of the plays to reconstruct systems of sexuality, gender, class, and ethnicity. We also consider Homer's Iliad as a precursor of tragedy, and the remaking of plays in contemporary film, dance, and theater, including Michael Cacoyannis, Electra and The Trojan Women; Martha Graham, Medea and Night Journey; Pier Paolo Pasolini, Edipo Re and Medea; and Igor Stravinsky, Oedipus Rex.

Omitted 2017-18.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2016, Fall 2019

Related Courses

EUST-121 Readings in the European Tradition I (Course not offered this year.)PHIL-217 Ancient Greek Philosophy (Course not offered this year.)