Fall 2020

Greek Civilization

Listed in: Classics, as CLAS-123  |  Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies, as SWAG-123

Formerly listed as: CLAS-23

Moodle site: Course


Frederick T. Griffiths (Section 01)


(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 folklore and myth 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? How does slavery work in a culture when it is based on capture rather than racial difference? What do we hear when people in bondage are given voice in epic and drama? Other authors include Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Thucydides. The course seeks to develop the skills of close reading and persuasive argumentation.

The requirements are three essays, the first ungraded, as well as two open-book tests with time and word limits. This online course will be synchronous. On weeks with formal assignments, Friday class will be replaced with conferences; in other weeks, students are asked to interact with the instructor about some observation or question about the reading.  

Three class hours per week.


Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Writing, Online Only, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021