2018-2019 Classical Civilzation: Topic Courses

CLA390H5S: Topics in Greek History & Culture: Tyrants, Queens and Kings in the Greek World (B. Chrubasik)

Greek political thought - particularly that of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE - declared that rule by one individual was alien to Greek culture. Monarchy was reserved to those groups who were not really Greek. Yet between the seventh century BCE to the first century CE, many Greeks both within and outside of mainland Greece had direct contact with, or were commanded by, men (and sometimes women) who asserted authority and rule. This course explores the concept of single person rule - monarchy - in the ancient Greek world, both within the context of the ancient Greek world and Greek political thought as well as within the context of modern scholarship on the topic. As such, this course will not only offer a broad discussion of the political phenomenon of single rule, but also an in-depth examination of how modern scholars have approached the topic of monarchy in the ancient world. This analysis of both the ancient material and modern discussions will enable us to evaluate whether we should re-think what Ancient Greek monarchy is all about.

CLA391H5FTopics in Roman History & Culture: Roman Luxury (C. Fulton)

The ancient Romans had a voracious appetite for importing luxury objects from around the Mediterranean: spices from the Arabian Peninsula, sculpture from Greece, fish sauce from Spain, glassware from Egypt and the Near East, and textiles from India and the East, to list a few. These imported objects were used to create and maintain status by elites within society, yet they were not accepted without contention. Many Roman authors lamented the deleterious nature of luxury on the customs of Roman society. In this course, we will explore what constituted "luxury" in the Roman world and discuss how this impacted status and identity. Why did some people celebrate luxury and other deplore it? We will examine the material remains of villas, frescoes, and other items at the heart of luxury alongside the writings of ancient authors who have commented on these matters. In combining these sources of evidence, we will discuss the social, economic, and, and political consequences of Rome's love-hate relationship with luxury and discuss comparisons in modern society.

CLA395H5FTopics in Classics: The “Greek Miracle”? Controversies in the Emergence of Rational Thought in Classical Greece (K. Yu)

This seminar examines some of the most important intellectual, political, and artistic transformations of archaic and classical Greece: the "invention" of writing; the rise of democratic institutions and rapid economic growth; the eclipse of religious thought by philosophy and science; and the emergence of the naturalistic "classical style" to represent the human body. What were the driving factors of these developments? Do they spring from the same source? Can we really speak of a "Greek Miracle" or "Greek Revolution"? And how can we give a historical account of such processes? We will interrogate the complex, and often fluid, boundaries between religion, philosphy, and scientific thinking by drawing on texts as diverse as Hesiod, the Presocratics, Herodotus, the Hippocratic writers, Plato, and Aristotle. We will also explore transformations in sculptural representations of humans and gods. There will be a special focus on how the dynamics of these processes were tied to specific social and political circumstances in the archaic and classical periods.