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Ancient Mediterranean

Fall 2024

In antiquity, the fall of Troy marked the beginning of history: a universal point from which all subsequent cities and communities could anchor their own stories of the past. Over 2,700 years later, the narratives of Troy and the Trojan War continue to accumulate significance, as successive generations have used them to work through their own experiences of war, the shape of history, the rise-and-fall of greatness, and in the end, what it means to be human. This course is an exploration of these layered encounters between past and present, in both written and material culture. It begins by considering the traditions of the Iliad and Odyssey in their geographic, poetic, and historical settings, and it then traces the myriad inflections of these traditions in the subsequent "worlds" of the Greco-Roman Mediterranean. All the while, it investigates the site of Troy as the locale for the ancient imagination: a place of memory and of the framing of history. The course then considers subsequent receptions of Troy and the Trojan War, in the wake of the fall of Rome, and leading up to the modern "epic" of searching for the "lost" Troy. It surveys the 19th-century search for historical "truths" that gave rise to early classical archaeology, to Schliemann's controversial activities at Hisarlik and Mycenae, the decipherment of Linear B, and to 20th and 21st -century discussions of war and trauma, cultural heritage, and the place of "antiquity" itself in modern and post-modern arenas. May be taken for credit toward the Greek and/or Roman history elective requirement of the Classics major.

Prof. Davies, 4 credits, TTh 2:30-3:50pm

-Fulfills Social Sciences, Humanities, Textual Analysis, Individual & Society, Global Cultures, Power & Equity, and/or Studying the Past distribution and Classics, Global Studies, and Human-Centered Design electives.

-History major: pre-modern; Cultures & Ideas; Before Modernity

This course presents an overview of Roman history, from early beginnings to the fourth-century CE. We will examine how a humble city-state became an international empire; how that empire evolved over centuries of interaction and tension between social classes, political powers, and vastly different cultures; and how particular ideals, philosophies, and technologies both shaped the "Roman" story and made an enormous impact on the modern world. Throughout the semester, we will follow a chronological core of political and military events, while continuing to ask the question of Roman identity: what did it mean to be "Roman"? We will do so by investigating social, economic, and cultural trends, focusing not only on the successes and failures of empire, but also on the negotiations of everyday life.

Prof. Davies, 4 credits, TTh 11:30am-12:50pm

-Fulfills Social Science, Individual & Society, Global Cultures & Languages, Power & Equity, and/or Studying the Past distribution, as well as Global Studies and Classics electives.

-History major: pre-modern; Cultures & Ideas; Empires & Colonialism; Before Modernity

This course explores the epic rivalry and long history of interaction between the ancient cities of Carthage and Rome, from earliest beginnings to the Punic Wars, and from imperial age through late antiquity. The contest between these two cities attained monumental status in the ancient world, and it continues to intrigue. There was - and is - an abiding sense that the collision course between Carthage and Rome largely determined the trajectory of the western Mediterranean world. However, there is much more to the story than mere animosity, and to better grasp the complexities of exchange, this course will investigate the development of Carthage (the defeated) in negotiation, discord, and assimilation with that of Rome (the victor). Class discussions will focus on the interplay between ancient texts and archaeological evidence, and on ancient and modern views regarding Carthaginian and Roman cultures.

Prof. Davies, 4 credits, MW 1-2:20pm

-Fulfills Social Sciences, Humanities, Textual Analysis, Individual & Society, Global Cultures, Power & Equity, Studying the Past, and/or Writing Across Contexts distribution and Classics elective.

-History major: pre-modern; Empires & Colonialism; Revolution/War/Politics; Before Modernity

Spring 2025

Cleopatra VII Philopator, the last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt (69-30 BCE), has long intrigued the imaginations of her onlookers. She has been dubbed the "world's first celebrity," and her name and many guises have been immortalized in everything from perfume to cigarettes to the silver screen. And yet Cleopatra remains hidden in what has been called a "fog of fiction" - a multiplicity of meanings that the queen herself encouraged, but which have also resulted in a tangled profusion in her images and stories. At times a glamorous seductress, at others, a self-indulgent victim, a tragic romantic, or a power-crazed visionary, Cleopatra has been at once a worldly and alluring manipulator of men, the ruination of the last Hellenistic kingdom, and an inspirational rebel. This course explores the many "Cleopatras," from her own times to the present. It introduces the worlds of Hellenistic Egypt and Late Republican and Early Imperial Rome, and considers the ways in which the Ptolemaic queen constructed her own legend, as well as how her contemporaries responded in both writing and material culture. It examines the gendered nature of cultural politics between Egypt and Rome, as well as between Romans, in the wars between Pompey and Caesar, and Antony and Octavian. The course then reviews subsequent receptions of the Cleopatra legend, from later Greek and Roman authors to modern gendered, Orientalist, and racialist versions of "Cleopatra," as she continued to evolve as an icon of the exotic, enigmatic, and ill-fated woman-in-power.

Prof. Davies, 4 credits, TTh 1-2:20pm

-Fulfills Social Science, Humanities, Individual & Society, Power & Equity, and/or Studying the Past distribution, as well as Gender Studies and Classics electives.

-History major: pre-modern; Cultures & Ideas; Social Justice; Before Modernity

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