Dr. Daniel Solomon

Vanderbilt University

Clas130.2/Fall 2003


M, W, F: 3.10-4.00

Furman 325


Office hours: M, W: 4.10-5.00; T, Th: 8.30-10.00 or by appointment

in Furman 327 (tel: 3-4134).



General info

Requirements and grading

paper guidelines

Study/quiz questions: weeks 1-2 weeks 3-4 weeks 5-6 weeks 7-8 weeks 9-10

weeks 11-12 weeks 13-15


Interesting links

General Info

Required texts:

1) Homer, The Iliad - translated by Robert Fagles (Penguin)

2) Herodotus, The Histories (Penguin)

3) Aristophanes, Acharnians, Lysistrata, Clouds (Focus)

4) Euripides, Medea and other Plays (Penguin)

5) Plato, The Last Days of Socrates (Penguin)

6) JACT, The World of Athens (Cambridge)

7) Class Pak in Vanderbilt Copy Shop

Please bring to class all texts assigned for that day, as we will be consulting them together extensively



The artists and intellectuals of Ancient Greece posed questions and suggested solutions in such a comprehensive manner as to define the development of "Western" culture. By integrating their literature with their social environment, we may gain a direct insight into the values, concerns, and daily life of a unique civilization who flourished almost 3,000 years ago. This course will consequently engage in close readings of primary Greek masterpieces of history, tragedy, philosophy, and heroic epic, with the ultimate goal of reconstructing what they must have sounded like to their contemporary audiences.

As a basic Humanities introductory course, Clas130 should above all enable you to reflect upon the similarities and the complexities of what it is to be "human." By investigating what distinguishes us- whether by criteria of nationality, religion, upbringing, or personal formative experiences - from others, we achieve more precise knowledge of our place within whichever society with which we have come to identify ourselves: thus we come to understand our own "identity." In keeping with this dual focus, all written assignments should 1) demonstrate awareness of the different prejudices and agendas -whether conscious or subconscious - that distinguish an Ancient Greek work of literature from any other, and 2) be carefully phrased and constructed in clear and competent English.

Throughout this semester we will abstain from passing value judgments on the savagery, the misogyny and the chauvinism of Greek public ideals; we will attempt to balance sympathetic and hostile suggested interpretations in order to understand their intentions, their decisions, and their outlook, both as a society and as individuals.



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Requirements and Grading

1) Participation in class (10 %), both existential and vocal; the core readings for each session are not particularly lengthy and are crucial to developing collective discussion of each topic (the alternative is sitting through a lecture by me...). The textbooks are general repositories of information: class notes will be essential to integrating them with our course!

 2) Almost daily quizzes (10%), at the beginning of class, with a choice of 3 out of 4 multiple-choice or prepared one-line answers. CLICK THE ABOVE THE LINK "Study/quiz questions." Because the total score of the 28 quizzes is 112, no make-ups will be allowed, except in case of dire emergencies. Please note that it is unacceptable to leave class after taking the quiz, unless you have cleared it with me first.

3) 2 review exams on Friday September 26 and Friday, October 31 (20% each), involving id's, one assigned essay, one unassigned essay.

4) Cumulative Final (25%) on Saturday, Dec. 13, 9 a.m., involving id's of terms and passages, two assigned essays, and one unassigned essay.

An alternate final will be offered on Wednesday, Dec. 17, noon.

5) Term paper (15%), due in class Friday, November 21, with one rewrite allowed, due Monday December 8 (grade will be averaged). "Examine an ancient Greek issue, person, event, or work of art (if literature, focus on one or two shorter episodes), by comparing it to a modern counterexample."

-Please note that it is a grave violation of the honor code to download papers from the Internet; any suspicion of such an infraction will be immediately referred to the Honor Council.

!!! LATE papers will be docked 10 points for each day late (December 1 counts as one day late).

The paper must be printed, double spaced, and titled: 6-8 pages with a font such as Times New Roman. Margins on all sides should be set at 1 inch; quotations longer than two lines should be indented, accompanied by full primary citations (i.e., book and verse/chapter of ancient text if available).

You are strongly encouraged to complete your assignments earlier than the due date, which is the last day before Thanksgiving break; unless you intend to write on Plato or Socrates, you should be ready by November 14. Please note that the papers must be handed to me in person; I will accept by e-mail only proposed outlines.

The point of this project is to enable you to examine in detail one of the issues, events, or characters we have only had time to introduce superficially in class, in the context of changes or tensions in Greek civilization. You are referring to some aspect of contemporary culture primarily in order to bring in to sharper relief or focus a comparable aspect of the past. For example, a Greekless audience will better understand your explanation of hubris, if you show similarities and differences between the Greek term and the modern translations: "arrogance;" "pride;" "violence;" etc. You are encouraged (though by no means required!) to explore the links suggested on this Web Page or outside readings (which must be cited); however, the evaluation of the argument of your paper will mostly depend on your awareness and application of your class notes and readings.

Suggested topics include:

Soldiers [or a specific character such as Achilles] as heroes [or villains!] in Homeric Greece and modern America [or, a comparable medium like Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven or the USA TV version Helen of Troy ]

Agôn between Greek poleis, as opposed to competition between North and South [or between European nations]

Humor [or social commentary] in Aristophanes and Seinfeld

Strategy and/or ideology in hoplite battles and contemporary military engagements

This paper will not only demonstrate your assimilation of the course materials, it will also prepare you to compose professional written documents in a public context. As such, your numerical paper grade will reflect both content and style. In your exams I have intermittently drawn your attention to ambiguities or inaccuracies in your choice of English without penalizing you at all; in the paper, this will no longer be the case. The ability to express one's self clearly, coherently, and persuasively in one's mother tongue is not simply a valuable commodity in today's job market, which is saturated with record numbers of college graduates: it is crucial that you distinguish yourself from the pack by developing and exhibiting your skills 1) in analyzing vast amounts of information, 2) in giving shape to your analysis, and then finally 3) in giving a voice to your conclusions.

Closer to the day I will supply a hard copy with this information, as well as further stylistic pointers. For now, the best approach to adopt in writing your papers is to pretend 1) that I have very little idea of what you are talking about, 2) that I have a very short attention span, and 3) that I can barely speak English! Just because you may have a clear idea of what you have in mind does not mean that everyone else will. Before you start writing you need to sketch a detailed structure of your essay, proceeding paragraph by paragraph; when you compose "free form," your carelessness is always more apparent and more frustrating to your audience than you may realize, because it becomes impossible to see where your argument is headed. It will also prove very helpful if, as soon as you have finished your paper, you first read it through again slowly, and then afterwards have a non-specialist look through it quickly, in order to assess whether you have articulated each thought in the best possible way. Don't just leave it to spell-checking software!

It is not necessary to make an original contribution to classical scholarship to excel in this paper; ideally you will provide either a sophisticated original analysis of a class reading, or you will find your own examples to corroborate the anaylsis offered in class. I am more interested in your knowledge of the primary materials: as always, the best way to demonstrate your preparation is to find examples or details we have not presented in class. There are plenty of other heroic speeches in the Iliad apart from Hector's to Andromache and Achilles; there are plenty of villainous counterexamples in Herodotus' Histories apart from Croesus' contempt for Solon or Xerxes' for the Hellespont water. However, if you stick to my suggestions and my evidence in your class notes - no matter how accurately - you will not be able to display either the detail or the critical analysis necessary to break into the "A/A-" range.

Three caveats:

1) Do not forget to provide a social/historical/literary context for your topic; otherwise you will not be able to justify it as indicative of Greek Civilization in general. Remember: the main goal is not to understand Achilles but rather to reconstruct how the Greeks would have understood him.

2) Do not quote extensively from World of Athens or any other secondary source; engage our eyewitnesses, the Greeks themselves.

3) Do not neglect the bias inevitable in any author you may be quoting or referencing: take nothing anybody says for granted - ever!!!


Grading scale: Points are scored out of a total of 100: the top ten constitute the "A" range, the next ten the "B" range, and so forth. The letter is accompanied by "+" or "-" if your score falls within the top or bottom 3 points of each range.

Thus, e.g., 87-89= B+ ; 83-86 = B ; 80-82 = B- .

!!! These policies and requirements are final: no extra credit will be offered.

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the best collection of Greek cultural artifacts on the net:

the easiest introduction to Greek culture on the net (note esp. "daily life" and "religion"):

collection of Greek texts:

best collection of primary sources on women:

little bit more on Sappho:

students' Homer web page (with plenty on the Iliad):

art on the Trojan War:

a difficult but authoritative work on Pindar's use of Homer:

some basic filler on Aristophanes:

excellent summary of the development of comedy from Aristophanes to Menander:

more info on Euripides' Medea:

help with our Platonic dialogues:

more on Epicurus' life and writings:

ancient biographies on Lykourgos and Pericles, among others:

detailed Athenian person search (if you have the patience!):

if Greek ships are your thing...:

map of Greece and Greek map of the world: