Fame and shame. Blood and guts. Glory and death. Ancient games and spectacles promised all these and more to the people of ancient Greece and Rome. Spectacles united societies and divided them too. Ancient fans fanatically supported their favourites, but rivalries sometimes led to riots. Ranging from the competitions at the Olympic games in Greece to the spectacles of the Roman Coliseum and the Circus Maximus, this course will examine how spectacles and games functioned in the ancient world, their costs and rewards, and the costs to the humans and animals caught up in them. Over the course of the semester we will investigate the how and why of ancient games, the mechanics of how they were staged and organized, and who fought and competed in them.

Prerequisites: None



“There can surely be nobody so petty or so apathetic in his outlook that he has no desire to discover by what means and under what system of government the Romans succeeded in less than fifty-three years in bringing under their rule almost the whole of the inhabited world, an achievement which is without parallel in human history.” – Polybius, Universal History 1.1.5
A survey of the ancient Roman world. The course consists of a series of lectures on the world of Rome from the foundation of the city to the death of Constantine. Lectures treat the Roman monarchy, the foundation of the Roman republic and its expansion, the social, economic and political problems that led to its fall, the reorganization of government under Augustus, and the Roman empire under the emperors. Brief consideration of the reforms of Diocletian and the unsolved problem of the decline of the Roman empire rounds out the course.
Prerequisites: None


Why are Greeks still today, just like their ancient ancestors, known for their shipping companies and business interests? Why were ancient Greeks apparently always warring among themselves and with others? Was democracy the most common form of government in ancient Greek communities? If not, why not, and what was the most common form of government? Is the “Greek Miracle” the best lens today through which to understand the development of the ancient Greeks?  The answers to these and other topical questions of our times can be found in studying ancient Greek history. Come and explore them with me.

Prerequisites: None


Plato; Aristotle; selections from Hellenistic Philosophy.

Is it possible to be sure that we are living a good human life, come what may? What would it be like to “succeed at” being a human being, at being ourselves? In the period under consideration in this course (c. 399 BCE–c. 529 CE), the nascent traditions of Greek logic, science, and ethics were turned to the exploration of such fundamental questions as these and spread across the Mediterranean world in the wake of Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire, laying the groundwork for the subsequent development of Western intellectual history. Over this term, we will study Aristotle, the great Hellenistic schools of ancient Athens (Stoics, Epicureans, and Skeptics) and the later ancient synthesis of Greek philosophy under the banner of Plato (Neoplatonism), and their influence on subsequent thought. Focus: Aristotle, Stoics, Epicureans, Skeptics, and Neoplatonists (4th century BCE-3rd century CE).

Prerequisites: None: Students with no prior knowledge of the subject are welcome.

Cross-Listed as PHIL 212A


The Presocratics; Socrates; Sophists.

CLST 211 “The unexamined life is not worth living”: this is how the seminal Athenian philosopher Socrates explained his way of life to the jury that sentenced him. How did this attitude – and with it the complex of Western philosophy, medicine and science – first emerge in ancient Greece? In this course, we will piece together fragmentary evidence for the birth of rational speculation between the poets Homer and Hesiod (8th century BC) and Plato and Aristotle (4th century BC). Along the way, we will encounter the original articulations of Greece’s most enduring and provocative ideas. Textbook: John Cooper, Pursuits of Wisdom (Princeton, 2012).

Cross-Listed as PHIL 211A

Prerequisites: None


This course will provide an introduction to Greek and Roman archaeology, from roughly 1000 BCE to CE 600. The course will place particular emphasis on the different types of evidence for our knowledge about the material culture of Greek and Roman antiquity. Two-thirds of the course will deal with such topics as the history of classical archaeology, how sites get buried and how they are discovered, and we will also consider how both sites and artefacts are dated. Topics covered in this section will include aerial photography, field survey, geophysical prospection, environmental archaeology, the role of science in archaeology, and underwater archaeology, and we will also consider the importance of pottery, coins and inscriptions for the study of classical archaeology. The last third of the course will deal first with an introduction first to Greek archaeology, and then to Roman. The approach within each will be topical rather than chronological: introductions will be offered on subjects such as urbanization, rural and economic life, the army, religion and death and burial. There will be a mid-term test, one course paper and an exam at the end.
Textbooks. There is no one adequate introduction to classical archaeology as such. K. Greene and T. Moore, Archaeology: an introduction, 5th. ed. 2010, will be used for the first two-thirds of the course, but it covers more than just classical archaeology. C. Gates, Ancient Cities: the archaeology of urban life in the ancient Near East and Egypt, Greece and Rome, 2nd edition 2011, 205-426 will cover some of topics in the last third of the course. S. E. Alcock and R. Osborne (eds), Classical archaeology, 2nd edition 2012, available on line, is also useful in the absence of anything else, but this is a more detailed textbook and is not aimed at beginners.
1.K. Greene and T. Moore, Archaeology: an introduction, 5th. ed. 2010
2.C. Gates, Ancient Cities: the archaeology of urban life in the ancient Near East and Egypt, Greece and Rome, 2nd edition 2011, 205-426
3.S. E. Alcock and R. Osborne (eds), Classical archaeology, 2nd edition 2012 (available on line)
Prerequisites: None


Classical Studies 105 offers a broad introduction to the vibrant world of Greek and Roman mythology and its influence today. Because myth touched every aspect of ancient life, this course will also shed light on the literature, art, and lived experience of the Greeks and Romans. The goals of the course are to familiarize students with the myths, with the primary texts in which they are told, with the place of myth-telling in ancient culture, and to introduce students to the chief interpretive theories of myth that have been developed over the past century. The course also touches on the transformation of ancient myths in modern storytelling.

Emphasis will be placed on reading primary sources in English translation, and as a result students will become familiar with a variety of ancient literary genres. This course also develops valuable transferable skills in academic reading and writing.

Prerequisites: None. (No prior knowledge of the subject is expected).

CLST 105 is a prerequisite for upper-level literature courses in Classical Studies (CLST 313, 314, 317, 318).


The second year of Classical Arabic with extensive reading of poetry and prose drawn from religious and historical texts.
Prerequisites: Arabic 300


An introduction to the grammar and vocabulary of Classical Arabic. This course will emphasize grammar and vocabulary and will introduce the student to select texts from Arabic literature including the Qur’an.
Prerequisites: Open to first- and second-year students with permission of the instructor.

Chelsea Gardner has been awarded the Philip Lockhart Fellowship

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