2019-2020 Classical Civilization: Topic Courses

CLA395H5F: Topics in Classics: The Worlds of Sappho (M. Revermann)

‘The Worlds of Sappho’ will approach the work of the archaic Greek lyric poet Sappho (second half of the 7th century BCE), now one of the best-known poetic figures from Graeco-Roman antiquity, from a variety of angles: close reading (in various kinds of translations) of her surviving poems, almost all of which have only come down to us as fragments; historical explorations of Sappho’s home, the island of Lesbos; the interface between gender, class and education; an introduction to ancient Greek music; homoeroticism in Greek culture; the re-discovery of Sappho from papyri found in Egypt (and an introduction to the discipline of papyrology more generally); strategies of translating ancient Greek poetry; the responses to Sappho in Roman poetry (especially in Catullus and Ovid); and last but certainly not least the reception history of Sappho, with a special emphasis on the Victorian period and its role in the creation of the image of Sappho that prevails to the present day. This course will end, in the final session, as a public workshop/presentation of ‘The Worlds of Sappho’, part of the UTM/Jackman Humanities Institute Annual Seminar (2019-2020) on ‘Dealing with Fragmentary Evidence from Graeco-Roman Antiquity’. The topic should be of interest not only to Classicists and historians, but also to students of English, Women & Gender Studies, and anyone who loves reading or writing lyric poetry.

CLA395H5STopics in Classics: Megalopoleis and Metropoleis: Megacities in the Greco-Roman World (J. Fabiano)

Among the most significant developments in the ancient world was the rise of cities. Across Greco-Roman antiquity thousands of urban agglomerations came to dot the Mediterranean landscape. Cities could be small, of only a couple thousand inhabitants, or large, in the tens of thousands. But by the fourth century BCE we can begin to speak of ancient ‘megacities,’ otherwise called megalopoleis and metropoleis. These were cities with over 100,000 inhabitants. Most famous among them are Classical Athens, the population of which one recent estimate has placed at 200,000, and Imperial Rome, with a population of near one million inhabitants that was unrivalled in the West until 18thcentury London and in the East until 9thcentury Chang’an. In a world in which agricultural production was the backbone of economic and social life, how might we imagine these ‘megacities’ functioned in their larger pan-Mediterranean context? Seeking an answer to this question is the focus of this course. This course then considers ‘megacities’ with the aim to reconstructing the role of and life in ‘megacities’ from the late Classical period through to the fifth century CE and ranging from the straits of Gibraltar to the shores of the Bosphorus. We will ask what features and structures define ancient ‘megacities’; what it was like to live in an ancient 'megacity'; and who were the many faceless, nameless people who comprised their populations. As such, where people lived, what they did, how they met their subsistence needs are all questions that will concern us. In our aim to reconstitute the life of the ancient 'megacity', the course will inevitably and necessarily intersect with studies of the ancient economy, human mobility, and environmental change, in the hopes of providing a more nuanced understanding of life and culture in Greco-Roman antiquity.