Course Description: As the first in the history of civilization sequence, this course proposes to explore the Western Tradition by first examining two distinct traditions that eventually became the twin foundations of European culture: the Judeo-Christian scriptural and ethical tradition on the one hand and the Classical tradition on the other. It will then proceed to trace the convergence of these two traditions in Late Antiquity with the Christianization of the Roman Empire and the back-and-forth movement between the two traditions in the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance.
Both of these cultural strands provided unique and important insights into the human experience and contributed in their own way to the idea of humanism—focusing on the importance of man in the universe and recognizing his creative potential. A major thrust of our study this semester will be to identify common human themes and questions that both of these traditions addressed. These include the origin and purpose of man’s existence; the question of mortality, immortality, and man’s relationship to the divine; the importance of love, family, and friendship; what makes a “hero” and the qualities that define true greatness; questions of war, peace, and the tragedy of human frailties; and the concepts of beauty, morality, and the good life.
The readings in Hon P 201 will concentrate on primary texts—some in unabridged forms and selections of others—and will study them within their historical and cultural contexts. Readings will begin with one of the earliest surviving texts, The Epic of Gilgamesh and will then proceed to pair biblical texts with Classical parallels, for instance the creation story in Genesis and Hesiod’s Theogony; epic history in Exodus and Homer’s Iliad; and tragedy in the story of King David and Sophocles. After continuing with representative samplings from the New Testament and Roman literature, we will explore how the Classical worlds came together in later works such those of Augustine and Dante.
A Note on Biblical Studies: In addition to being sources of faith, the Old and New Testaments are vital historical documents to both believers and non-believers. Understanding the historical background, the cultural context, the languages they were written in, and the literary techniques and symbolism of these texts has given rise to the field of biblical studies. Without detracting from the doctrinal significance of the Bible, in this class we will primarily be using it to see how it influenced the larger western tradition. Our readings will be from the New Revised Standard Version, which will help you consider already familiar texts in a new way, and the edition that we are using, the Harper Collins Study Bible, comes with ample introductions and notes that will provide historical and literary insights.
A Note on the Classics: A work, literary or otherwise, is a “classic” when it serves as a standard of excellence by which other efforts are measured. Classical works, whether in literature, art, science, or philosophy, endure because they transcend the limits of their own culture and language and have value to anyone who enjoys or studies them. Most languages and literatures possess written works that have become authoritative as measures by which other writings in their traditions are measured (hence Macbeth, War and Peace, or Moby Dick). Such a work can become a “classic,” therefore, because it has meaning and import to people in every age.
By convention, the discipline of Classics encompasses anything relating to the culture of the ancient Greeks and Romans. This includes the study of their languages, literature, art, history, philosophy, and science. Our study of the Classics this semester will examine some lasting achievements of the Greeks and Romans: a unique approach to the collective and individual human experience, a new concept of what a community is and should be, and an elevated view of education and culture known as paideia to the Greeks and humanitas to the Romans. After tracing the persistence of these ideas in subsequent periods, our semester will then conclude by witnessing how Renaissance humanism revived an educational and cultural program—the studia humanitatis—based upon the Classics.
The study of Classics and the Classical Tradition (i.e., the influence of Classics on subsequent cultures) can thus open a window that vividly illuminates what it means to be a human being; as we read the literature, admire the art, study the pattern of events in their history, and ponder the philosophy of the Greeks, Romans, and their cultural successors we recognize those desires, emotions, and ambitions which are universal.
Formal citations are followed by the page numbers in our editions in parentheses
M30Aug Course Introduction; Biblical and Classical Antecedents: The Near East
Topics: The twin pillars of Western Civilization; the study of “cultural history.” Overview of Biblical and Classical studies—emphasis on textual studies. What makes a “classic.” The human experience and humanism. Background for Gilgamesh—Mesopotamia.
Reading: afterwards look over MP6, 1–7 (online).
W01Sep The Epic of Gilgamesh
Topics: Sumeria, Akkadians, and Babylonians; Babylonian Creations Myths, especially the Enûma Eliš; The Epic of Gilgamesh—precedent for biblical and Classical sagas
Reading: MP6, 7–16 (online); Introduction to Hesiod’s Theogony (Caldwell, 22–26); Introduction to Gilgamesh and Tablets I–XI (Foster, xi–95).
F03Sep Biblical Beginnings
Topics: Creation Stories; Review of Mesopotamian Creative Progression; Genesis and the Torah; Documentary Hypothesis; the two creation accounts in Genesis.
Reading: Brown, “Approaches to the Pentateuch,” SS3 3–23 (online); Genesis 1:1–2:25 (HarperCollins, 3–9; cf. Moses 2:1–4:25; Abraham 4–5).
M06Sep Labor Day. No class.
W08Sep Greek Beginnings
Topics: Bronze Age Aegean; Dark Ages; Archaic Greece; Greek Religion and Oral Poetry; Greek Myths of Creation; Hesiod; Succession Myth; Structure of the Theogony. Hunts on Site: Olympia and Succession Myth.
Reading: Caldwell’s introduction, 1–22, 26; Hes. Theog. 1–506, 617–735 (those are page numbers, read pages in Caldwell, 27–57, 64–69).
F10Sep Rise of Civilization: Curse or Blessing? Biblical View; Greek View
Topics: The Biblical Fall. Cain and Abel. The Rise and Fall of Antediluvian Civilization. The Flood and the Family of Noah. Prometheus and the Man. Pandora, blessing or curse? Flood Stories. Greek and Roman Ages of Man.
Reading: Genesis 3:1–10:32 (HarperCollins, 9–19; cf. Moses 5:1–8:30; Abraham 4–5; 2 Nephi 2:14–29). Hes. Theog. 565–616 and Works and Days, 1–105 (Caldwell, 61–63, 105–108); Hes. Works and Days, 106–201 (Caldwell, 108–110); Ovid Met. 1.89–437 (online).
M13Sep Egypt and the Hebrews
Topics: Egyptian Geography, Culture, and Periods. Origins of the Hebrews. Joseph in Jacob’s family. Joseph in Egypt. Jacob comes to Egypt.
Reading: MP6, 17–31 (online); Genesis 37, 39–50 (HarperCollins, 59–62, 63–82).
W15Sep Moses and the Exodus.
Topics: Overview, Themes, and Structure of Exodus. Preparation and Call of Moses. Moses’ Confrontations with Pharaoh. Plagues and Passover. Miraculous Deliverance at the Red Sea. The Song of Moses—the real hero, the Lord! In-class video clip: Crossing of the Red Sea from “The Ten Commandments.”
Reading: Exodus 1:1–15:21 (HarperCollins, 83–110).
F17Sep The Trojan Cycle, Homer, and Epic.
Topics: Legendary Troy and the Trojan Cycle: The Families of Tyndareus and Atreus. Marriage of Peleus and Thetis. Judgment of Paris. The Trojan War. Homer, his world, epic, and Homeric values. Hunts on Site: Troy.
Readings: Lombardo introduction, ix–xlii; Classical Epic and Its Values (handout online). Start reading Homer’s Iliad (Lombardo 1ff.).
M20Sep Achilles and the Greeks.
Topics: The Wrath of Achilles. The Quarrel; Rage Checked and Deferred; Assembly and Muster of Armies; Instead of Battle, Single Combat; The Aristeia of Diomêdês; Hector’s Portrayal; the Embassy to Achilles.
Readings: excerpts from Iliad 1–15 (Lombardo, 1–79).
W22Sep Achilles and the Trojans.
Topics: Fall of Patroclus and its Result; Shield of Achilles; Achilles buries his anger—towards the Greeks; battle resumes; Achilles vs. Hector; funeral games of Patroclus; Achilles and Priam.
Readings: excerpts from Iliad 16–24 (Lombardo, 79–157); preview of the Deuteronomistic History (HarperCollins, 389–91).
F24Sep The Rise of David the King
Topics: Review of the background of 1–2 Samuel, overview of the structure of 2 Samuel; the issue of sacral kingship—the examples of Saul and David; David Established as King; Consolidation of the Kingdom; the selection of Jerusalem as a political and religious capital; The Davidic Covenant; David's Conquests for and Administration of the Kingdom.
Readings: 1 Samuel 16–20, 31; 2 Samuel 1, 5–10 (HarperCollins, 413–421, 433–437, 442–450).
M27Sep The Fall of David the King
Topics: David’s crimes—Bathsheba and Uriah; conflicts within the Davidic kingdom; Absalom's rebellion; last words and deeds of David.
Readings: 2 Samuel 11–24 (HarperCollins, 450–473).
W29Sep The Golden Age of Greece
Topics: Archaic to Classical Greece. The Persian Wars. The Rise of Athens. Tragedy: From the wild worship of Dionysus to a high form of drama and literature. Hunts on site: Theater of Dionysus.
Readings: MP6, 63–74 (online); excerpts from Aristotle, Poetics (online); Knox introduction (Fagles, 13–30). Quiz 1 distributed.
F01Oct Religion and the State
Quiz 1 due.
Topics: Introduction to Sophocles and Sophoclean Drama. The Role of Sophism in Fifth Century Greece. Background on the Theban Cycle. The Antigone. The Dilemma of the laws of men versus the laws of the gods and the requirements of religion and family
Readings: Sophocles, Antigone (Fagles, 35–128).
M04Oct Sophistic versus Mantic World View
Topics: The Theban Cycle. More on Sophocles and Sophism. Overview of Oedipus the King. Oedipus’ hamartia. Sophistic versus Mantic World View. Recognition Scenes: The Truth Revealed.
Readings: Sophocles, Oedipus the King (Fagles, 131–251).
W06Oct Redemption through Suffering
Topics: Overview of Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus. Greek Hero Cult. Storyline and issues. A Tragedy?
Readings: Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus (Fagles, 255–388).
Th07–F08Oct; Sa09Oct (late)
Be sure to check hours at https://testing.byu.edu/info/center_hours.php
F08Oct Tuesday is Monday!
Biblical Historiography I
Topics: The “Former Prophets” of the Nevi’im: background of the Deuteronomistic History (Judges–2 Kings); the Ketuvim and the Chronicler’s Histories (1 Chronicles–Nehemiah). Illustrating the results of good and bad kings—that is, kings who keep the Deuteronomistic Covenant and those who do not. David and Solomon. The Kingdom is Divided. The Sin of Jeroboam.
Readings: “Kings, Books of” and “Chronicles,” BD, 651, 602, 722–23, 653–54, 721, 635; Seely, “Kings and Chronicles” (online); 1 Kings 11:26–15:24; 2 Chronicles 10–16; 2 Kings 15–17; 2 Chronicles 26–28.
M11Oct Biblical Historiography II
Topics: More good and bad kings in biblical Israel; Judgment on the House of Jeroboam; the view of the Chronicler's Historian and his focus on Judah. Fall of the Northern Kingdom: Illustrating the result of breaking the Deuteronomistic Covenant.
Readings: Finish 2 Kings 15–17; 2 Chronicles 26–28.
W13Oct Classical Historiography I
Topics: Historiography in the Classical Period. Herodotus—background, issues, and representative stories. Aftermath of the Persian Wars. Hunts on site: Whipping the Hellespont.
Readings: Herodotus excerpts (packet, 5–20).
F15Oct Classical Historiography II
Topics: Aftermath of the Persian Wars. Divisions in Greece—Delian and Peloponnesian Leagues. Thucydides and “Scientific History.” Style, Organization, and Themes. Athens as represented by its history in the Peloponnesian War. Preview of biblical poetry.
Readings: Thucydides excerpts (packet, 21–33). Bandstra, 384–394.
M18Oct Biblical Poetry and Wisdom Literature
Great Works Report 1 due
Topics: Overview of Hebrew poetry (cont.); The Ketuvim or “Writings”; introduction to wisdom literature; Proverbs; Proverbial Wisdom—especially the Antithetical Collection; Ode to a Capable Wife. Retribution Theology and the Alternate View of Ecclesiastes
Reading: Bandstra, 384–394, 423–431, (online, read in this order); Proverbs 1–15, 29–31; Bandstra, 431, 451–454 (online); Ecclesiastes 1–4, 8–9, 11–12; “Job, book of” and “ Devil,” BD, 713–14, 656–57; Bandstra, 432–437 (online)
W20Oct The Problem of Evil
Topics: The Book of Job; Overview; Characters and Their Positions; Lessons from Job; Need for Revelation: The Whirlwind and the Testimony of the Heart; Problems of Beginnings and Endings.
Reading: Job 1–14, 19, 22–31, 32:1–10, 36–42; Hebrews 12:1–11 . Tanner, “The Book of Job,” SS 5, 391–406 (online)
F22Oct The Socratic Revolution
Topics: Intellectual Developments in the Archaic and Classical Periods—Natural Philosophers and Sophists. The Historical Socrates and the Socratic Problem; Plato and his dialogues; the background to his trial. Plato’s Apology.
Readings: MP6, 76–79 (online); Tarrant’s introduction (T&T, xi–xxxv); Plato, Apology (T&T, 33–70).
M25Oct Justice and Duty; Wisdom and the Soul
Topics: What is the just or right act in the face of injustice? What is a man's obligation to the state and its laws? Arguments for the immortality of the soul. The soul's fate, a Socratic cosmology, and the death of Socrates.
Readings: Plato, Crito (T&T, 73–96); Plato, Phaedo 57c–84b, 107b–118a (T&T, 99–154, 186–199)
W27Oct Further Developments in Philosophy
Topics: Plato on the Forms and Mimesis. The context of the Hellenistic World. Epicurus, Zeno, and Hellenistic philosophy.
Readings: Plato, excerpts from The Republic (packet, 38–44); MP6, 101–106 (online); Epicurus, “Letter to Menoeceus,” (packet, 45–47); on Epicurus, Zeno, and Hellenistic philosophy from Introduction to The Nature of the Gods (Walsh, xxx–xxxvii).
F29Oct The Roman Republic
Topics: Phases of Roman History. What legends and Livy tell us about what the Romans knew—or thought they knew—about early Roman history. Late Republican trauma: Sallust's summary. Differing models of Roman virtue: Caesar and Cato. Background and political career of Cicero
Readings: MP6, 120–126, 129–131 (online); Livy, “The Founding of Rome” [1.1–7.3], “The Expulsion of the Kings,” [1.49, 56–60 and passim] (packet, 57–68); Sallust, from Bellum Catilinae (packet, 48–52). Quiz 2 distributed.
M01Nov Cicero and Epicureanism
Quiz 2 due.
Topics: Cicero and Philosophy. Overview of The Nature of the Gods. Book 1: Arguments for and Against Epicurean Theology
Readings: Walsh’s introduction and Cicero, The Nature of the Gods, Book 1 (Walsh, xi–xxx, xxxvii–xxxix; 1–46)
W03Nov Cicero and Stoicism; Augustus and Empire (preview)
Topics: The Stoic View—proving the existence of the gods; describing the nature of the gods; providence, that is the ordering of the universe by the gods; the solicitude of the gods for man. Cotta as Academic and Priest; the rejoinder of Academy. Preview of the Rise of Augustus.
Readings: Cicero, The Nature of the Gods, 2.1–75, 154–168; 3:1–43, 65–95 (Penguin, 47–74, 103–107, 108–122, 131–146).
F05Nov Augustus, Empire, and Literature
Topics: The Rise of Octavian, later “Augustus.” How to avoid Caesar’s fate—a new name and new honors to disguise old powers. Suetonius’ Life of Augustus. Vergil and his epic. A Return to Traditional Values—exempla in Livy’s history.
Reading: MP6, 126–129, 131–136 (online); Vergil, excerpts from Aeneid 1 and 6 (MP–R, 112–121); Suetonius, from the Life of Augustus (packet, 82–89); From Livy 1 and 2 (packet, under “Prologue,” 56–57, and Good and Bad Exempla,” 68–74).
Sa06–M08Nov; Tu09Nov (late)
(Testing Center, check https://testing.byu.edu/info/center_hours.php for hours)
M08Nov The Historical Jesus
Topics: Jesus of Faith or the Jesus of History: is there a contradiction? Biblical sources—what are the gospels? The Synoptic problem. Authorship, audience, and features of the Marcan, Matthean, and Lucan texts.
Readings: MP6, 170–173; E.P. Sanders, “The Life of Jesus,” CRJ 41–84; HarperCollins, read intros and in this order: 1722–1724, 1665–1667, 1759–1760.
W10Nov The Synoptic Life of Jesus
Topics: Beginning of the Ministry in Mark and Triumphal Entry through resurrection; Matthew’s Infancy Narrative and Sermon on the Mount; Luke’ Infancy Narrative, unique material, and Gethsemane;
Readings: Mark 1–3, 11–16; Matthew 1–7, 13, 28; Luke 1–4, 7–8, 15, 22–24 (HarperCollins 1725–1730, 1745–1758, 1668–1680, 1690–1693, 1720–1721, 1761–1770, 1775–1780, 1805–1813).
F12Nov The Johannine Jesus I
Topics: Appeal of the Fourth Gospel—some contrasts with the Synoptics. Authorship, audience, and features of John. Structure, especially Book of Signs. Seven Discourses, Seven Signs, and Seven I Am Sayings.
Readings: “The Gospel of John,” in JCWNT, 126–137 (online); John 1–11 (HarperCollins, 1814–1838); Huntsman, “Blood and Water” (online)
M15Nov The Johannine Jesus II
Topics: The Book of Glory. The timing of the Last Supper. Surprising omissions—the sacrament and Gethsemane. Other unique aspects of the Johannine passion narrative. Blood and water—from a Tree of Cursing to a New Tree of Life.
Readings: “The Gospel of John,” in JCWNT, 137–145 (online); John 12–21 (HarperCollins, 1838–1854); Huntsman, “Lamb of God” (online).
W17Nov Towards a Christian Empire
Topics: Early Christianity and the Classical Tradition; New Testament and Classical Culture; Development of a Tradition and a Canon; The Post Apostolic Church; The Postapostolic Church and Increasing Persecution; Rise of Constantine and the Triumph of Christianity
Readings: MP6, 174–178, 184–191 (online); skim or review Acts 6, 9–28; 1 Thessalonians; from Tacitus, Annales (packet, under “The Burning of Rome,” 68–71); Eusebius, excerpts from Ecclesiastical History (online = Penguin, 62–63, 256–260, 291–294).
F19Nov Augustine I
Comparison and Contrast Paper due.
Topics: Early Life, Career, and Influences . St. Augustine and the Classical Tradition. Problems of Autobiography. Issues and Objectives in Confessions
Readings: Pine-Coffin’s introduction, Confessions 1–3 (Pine-Coffin, 11–70).
M22Nov Augustine II
Topics: Summary of Confessions. City of God: Approaches and Issues. On Sallust and Rome's Morality. Moral Character of the Ancient Romans. Rome Falls but the Empire Goes On.
Readings: Confessions 5–8 (Pine-Coffin, 91–154); selections from City of God (packet, 151–164).
Tu23Nov Tuesday is Friday, but no class anyway.
W24Nov Thanksgiving holiday
F26Nov Thanksgiving holiday
M29Nov Overview of Medieval Europe; Scholasticism I
Topics: The West after Rome. Charlemagne—temporary revival of empire. The Carolingian Renaissance, a renaissance of letters. Medieval society after the Carolingians. A Look at Romanesque. Economic and Urban Revival in the High Middle Ages. Universities, the Seven Liberal Arts, Peter Abelard.
Reading: MP6, 208–214, 248–262; elements of Scholasticism (packet, last supplement, 182ff., including excerpts from Peter Abelard and Thomas Aquinas).
W01Nov Scholasticism II; Dante I
Topics: Thomas Aquinas and Scholasticism. A Look at Gothic. Dante’s background; Beatrice; poetry, numerology, and the Divine Comedy; Influential Concepts and Figures. Dante the poet, Dante the pilgrim. Inferno: a Christian Underworld. Contrapasso—punishments commensurate to the crime. Dante begins his journey; Limbo and the Opportunists; the second circle and the Lustful.
Reading: Thomas Aquinas, excerpts from Summa Theologica (online = MP–R, 233–235). Musa’s introduction and Inferno canti 1–5 (Musa, 15–33, 43–55, 67–120; skim the notes at the end of each canto).
F03Dec Dante II
Topics: More Classical figures and references. Fate of the Treacherous. Lucifer in Inferno. Maps of Purgatory and Paradise. Some Surprising Pagan Inclusions in Heaven
Reading: Inferno canti 6, 10–15, 18–19, 26–28, 32–34 (Musa, 121–128, 158–213, 231–250, 305–334, 362–387; skim the notes at the end of each canto); handout from Paradiso 20 (online). Quiz 3 distributed.
M06Dec Petrarch and Machiavelli.
Quiz 3 due.
Topics: Religious and Political Divisions in the Late Middle Ages. Petrarch, Classical Humanism, and Virtù; his Letter to Dionisio da Borgo San Sepolcro and his Classical conversations. The context and spirit of the early Renaissance. Machiavelli and the importance of the Classical tradition; the Prince and pragmatism in politics.
Reading: MP6 from ch. 10 (pp. 296–97), ch. 11 (pp. 321–29), and 12, (pp. 362–63); Petrarch, Ascent of Mt. Ventoux (online) and excerpts from Letter to Posterity, Africa, Letter to Cicero, and My Secret (packet, 112–117); Machiavelli, Letter to Francesco Vettori (online) and excerpts from and The Prince (online).
Great Works Report 2 due
Topics: The Northern Renaissance and Christian Humanism; Background of Desiderius Erasmus; Erasmus’ writings; Erasmus’ Editions of the New Testament.
Reading: Excerpts from The Praise of Folly (MP–R, 23–27) and “To Maarten van Dorp” (Penguin 137–142, 162–172, online).
W15 Dec 5:45–7:45 p.m., FINAL EXAMINATION