The primary goal of this course is to improve sophomores’ ability to conduct personal and original research, starting from the Roman understanding of fortuna. A supernatural power bringing pleasant or unpleasant surprises, a mysterious entity whose strokes can be skillfully tempered but never quite avoided, a capricious deity to be feared, respected, and at times worshipped, a force to which even gods and goddesses are subjected, and a notion which affected Roman religion, literature, figurative arts, politics, and history, fortuna provides both a unique window into Roman civilization and a fascinating unitary focus for interdisciplinary research. How was the Romans’ view of the forces that governed their world different from that of other Western civilizations? How did their understanding of fortuna affect their view on justice, and how did it shape their mapping of civic, ethical, psychological, and religious systems? Students will be encouraged to formulate questions in pursuit of their specific interests, to investigate and weigh conflicting explanations, to launch and test hypotheses, while drawing connections between disciplines and cultures and becoming familiar with the tools and methods of research.
No knowledge of Latin is required, and enrollment will be limited to 4. Professor Grillo. Spring Semester.