(Grade 11 and 12; academic option, no knowledge of Latin or Greek is necessary; 4 periods/week; full year, 1 credit; additional materials fee)
The influence exerted by the classical world upon the modern is sometimes obvious, sometimes latent, but always pervasive. The Doric columns on the Schnuck wing are a clear instance; less evident, perhaps, is the very long shadow cast by ancient Greek and Roman authors upon the subsequent western literary tradition. This course introduces students to the literary roots from which spring so many of the best works of western literature. The texts themselves lie at the heart of this course, which is intended as a seminar-style discussion based upon a close reading of primary sources. In the first semester the focus is on classical epic, assessing the changing concept of the “hero” and the “heroic” in Homer’s Iliad and Vergil’s Aeneid. In the second semester the class cuts across generic boundaries as it dips into the intellectual ferment of fifth-century B.C. Athens; readings in history, tragedy, comedy, and philosophy enable students to consider “hot button” topics in Athens that should still stir everyone up today. The course concludes with Shakespeare’s King Lear, which, though non-classical, nevertheless speaks both to today’s audience and to its own classical antecedents. Some art history is sampled, too, as the class occasionally explores how classical literature has manifested itself in visual arts through the centuries. Evaluation consists of tests, largely objective in nature, and short essays on the readings; a take-home essay is required at the end of the first semester in lieu of a final exam.

NOTE: Optional Honors Credit
This course may be taken for an optional Honors credit. Students so enrolled are required, once per semester, to read a piece of literature over and above the assigned readings, present it orally to the class, and write an essay on it. The work to be read, and the nature of the writing assignment, is chosen in consultation with the instructor.

NOTE: To earn the Honors credit, students must maintain at least a B- grade each semester in addition to undertaking the extra work.

Texts:    A list of the required texts is supplied by the department chair