Classics 201 B, Classical Literature, Winter, 2004

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Professor: Michael Webster  Office: 129 LHH
E-mail: Telephone: 331-3071
GVSU Classics Department:
Office Hours: 11-12, MW, 3-4 MW, 5-6 T, and by appt. Webster's Winter 2004 Schedule.
201 C meets 10:00-10:50 MWF, LHH 121

Required Texts:

Please read these editions and translations for this class.

CLA 201 Schedule:

Week 1. [Jan. 5-9] Introductions to Ancient Greece, Homer, and the Iliad.
Video: "In Search of the Trojan War." Iliad, Introduction (xvii-xxix [skip xx] and xlii-lviii), Books 1-4. "Greek History and the Gods" (packet 7-16), Characteristics of Oral Composition,  and "Guide to Reading the Iliad" (packet 19-25). "Iliad: Reading Assignments, Summaries, Notes, and Questions" (packet 26-29).

Week 2. [Jan. 12-16] Iliad, Books 5-10; Introduction [xvii-xxix (skip xx) and xlii-lviii]. "Iliad: Reading Assignments, Summaries, Notes, and Questions" (packet 29-32).

Week 3. [Jan. 19-23] Iliad Books 11-24, Introduction, "Achilles," "Hector," and "The Enduring Heart" (xxix-xlii).
"Iliad: Reading Assignments, Summaries, Notes, and Questions" (packet 32-36).

Week 4. [Jan. 26-30] Odyssey, Books 1-12. Introduction, "A Tale of Homecoming" (xiii-xviii) and "History and the Poetic Tradition" (li-lxiii),"The Mêtis of Odysseus" and "The Man of Pain" (xvii-xxvii).
"Odyssey Reading Assignments, Notes and Questions" (packet 38-44). The Hero's Three-Part Journey, Propp's 31 Functions, and Odysseus Follows Propp (packet 50-53). Optional: "Homeric Hymn to Hermes" (Sargent 30-45).

Week 5. [Feb. 2-6] Odyssey, Books 13-24. Read also packet 38-44, Introduction, "Olympian Friends and Enemies" (xxvii-xxxiii), "Fathers and Sons, Master and Slaves" (xxxiii-xl), "The Fame of Penelope" (xl-xlvi), "The Limits of Heroism" (xlvi-li), and re-read the end of "History and the Poetic Tradition" (lix-lxiii). 

Week 6. [Feb. 9- 13] Heroic to Lyric Poetry: (Sargent vii-xii; packet 54-58)
"Homeric Hymn to Demeter" (Sargent 2-14; packet 59-62).
"Hymn to Aphrodite" (Sargent 46-53; packet 64-65).

Week 7. [Feb. 16-20] Midterm and catch-up (or look ahead) week.

Week 8. [Feb. 23-27] Greek Drama: Aeschylus, Agamemnon and Eumenides. Read "Apollo" (packet 13-14), Tragedy: The Basics (packet 67-69), and Oresteia pages, including "For Delphic Oracle, Fumes and Visions" (packet 70-77).

Spring Break! [March 1-5]

Week 9. [March. 8-13] Read the Summary of The Libation Bearers and Aeschylus, Furies (Eumenides). Read Sophocles, Oedipus the King, "Greece and the Theater" (13-30, especially pp. 21-30), Bernard Knox's "Introduction" (131-53), and The Oedipus Story, Notes and Questions for Oedipus (packet 78-81).

Week 10. [March 15-19] Read Sophocles, Antigone, Bernard Knox's "Introduction" (35-53), and "Notes and Questions for Antigone" (packet 81-83).

Week 11. [March 22-26] Read Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, Bernard Knox's "Introduction" (255-77), "Notes and Questions for Oedipus at Colonus," (packet 84-85).

Week 12. [March 29-April 2] Euripides, The Bacchae. Read "Dionysus" (packet 14-15) and "Notes and Questions for Euripides' Bacchae" (packet 86-87). Optional: "Hymn to Dionysos" (Sargent 55-56).

Week 13. [April 5-9] Roman Epic: The Aeneid, Books 1-6. Re-read "Aphrodite" (packet 15-16) and "Roman Culture and the Aeneid" (packet 88-93).

Week 14. [April 12-17] The Aeneid, continued. Catch-up week and exam review.

Final Exam: 201 B: Tuesday, April 20, 12-1:50 p.m.

Course Goals and Policies, CLA 201, Winter 2004

Goals: How does one study the literature and art of a civilization? The easy answer to this question is that we interpret the past, we look for meanings. Since understanding Greek history will help shape and sharpen our interpretations of art and literature, we will also study the culture and traditions of the ancient Greeks, especially their attitudes and institutions concerning social class, slavery, gender, ethnicity, religion, warfare, honor, democracy, and city life. In some cases, interpreting literature involves thinking like a detective. For example, we can deduce meanings of the Iliad by asking why Homer (the author) contrasts one scene with another. Learning to interpret literature also involves asking three kinds of questions: reading and interpretive, and critical.

(Each kind of question may contain elements of another kind. Thus an analytical interpretation may take into account sensuous aspects like feeling and performance.) The best questions are open-ended—they have no "right" or "wrong" answer, only better or worse answers according to the evidence and reasonings you can bring to back up your opinions. These questions usually contain phrases like "do you think" or "why do you suppose."

The larger goals of this course are to equip students with the skills needed to effectively think, read, and express themselves (in writing and debate) as reflective, critical citizens. This course will give you the chance to sharpen your ability to form an argument, interpret evidence, and make connections among complex ideas. I also hope you will find the course challenging and enjoyable: the fun will come in discovering new ideas through reading, talking, and writing about literature and art. Further, through a respectful give and take of opinions, you will have the chance to discover how ancient lives and historical and cultural issues relate to our own time and place. Also, we'll read and enjoy some really good stories that explore the beauty and complexity of human existence.

Readings: Feel free to ask questions about the readings, which are exciting, entertaining, and challenging. Come to class prepared, having read the material and thought about the study questions and any other questions you have raised on your own. I will help you keep on track by giving quizzes from time to time. Your participation will help make the discussion lively and the course more memorable.

Questions: "The love of wisdom begins in wonder," said Socrates. We learn by asking and working out answers to questions. Try to come to class each day with at least one probing question that you would use to start off the discussion. (See "Tips" sheet.) The study questions in the packet or in handouts are designed to stimulate your thinking and activate your reading, to highlight important issues, and to prepare you for in-class discussion. 

Attendance: Since I've structured this course around discussion, rather than just lecture material, your attendance and your participation is vital. Those who are absent (in body or mind) will find the course less interesting and the material more difficult than those who attend and participate. You cannot "make up" the discoveries and the intellectual give-and-take created by a classroom full of individual personalities. You also deprive the class of the unique perspective that only you can bring. If you feel intimidated or puzzled by the readings or have some hesitancy about participating, feel free to talk to me about it. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but it definitely makes the grade go lower. Those who miss more than a week of classes without legitimate excuse will receive a failing grade for the course. 

Writing: You will have four kinds of writing assignments:  1) short (no more than one page, hand-written) before-class or in-class exercises, 2) short quizzes on the reading, 3) two essay exams (a midterm and a final), and 4) two (4-5 pages, typewritten) papers. You will have the opportunity to revise both papers. Students who score below a C+ will be required to rewrite the paper. Prerequisite: completion of the composition requirement.

All papers (even drafts) are to be typed and are due at the beginning of the class specified. I will not accept late papers. If a paper is not turned in when it is due, you will receive a grade of "0." Similarly, exams must be taken when scheduled. If you have a truly extraordinary circumstance, let me know as early as possible before an assignment is due, and we can work something out so that you can hand in your best possible effort.

The Writing Center is a place where students can discuss their writing with student consultants prepared to respond to their work. The Writing Center offers assistance on prewriting, drafting, revising previous drafts, editing, and citing sources. 

Writing Center Locations:  
Allendale Campus 
201 STU / 331-3451
Pew Campus
Grand Rapids
101B DeVos / 331-6407
Meijer Campus
Room 119

Hours vary: check the Writing Center home page at

Grading: Final grades will be based on your papers (40%) exercises, quizzes, class participation (20%), and the midterm and final (40%). Because grades are meant to reflect your effort in a course, plagiarism will be  punished severely. At the least, you will receive an F for the paper; you may fail the entire course. For more information on the University's policy on plagiarism, see sections 223.00 and following in the Student Code. 

SWS Requirements: This course is designated SWS. Completion of WRT 150 and/or WRT 305, as appropriate, with a grade of C or better (not C-) is the prerequisite. SWS credit will not be given to a student who completes this course before completing the prerequisite(s). SWS courses adhere to certain guidelines. Students turn in a total of at least 3000 words of writing. Part of that total may be essay exams, but a substantial amount of it is made up of finished essays, reports, or research papers. The instructor works with the students on revising drafts of papers, rather than simply grading the finished piece of writing. At least four hours of class time will be devoted to writing instruction. At least one third of the final grade in the course is based on the writing assignments. For more information on the SWS program, visit .

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