This course, reading plays in English translation, will explore the theatrical comedy of ancient Greece and Rome. From the ancient Greek world we will read a selection of Old Comedy plays by Aristophanes and the New Comedy of Menander. From the Roman world we will read selected plays by Plautus and Terence. We will examine the nature of comedy in the theatre in ancient Greece and Rome, exploring each play that we read from a number of perspectives. We will look at issues ofdramatic and literary style (what is unique to each author”s style of writing and sense of the theatrical); stagecraft (actors, costumes, theatrical resources);and social context (how are the plays responding to the political and social context for which they were written and what differences do we see between plays written for 5th and 4th-century BC Athens, or between 4th-century BC Athens and 2nd-century BC Rome). We will also briefly examine the influence and reception of ancient comedy on the western theatre tradition, from the 10-century plays of Hrosvitha to the Elizabethan theatre to Broadway musicals to modern sitcoms and romantic comedies.
Prerequisites: CLST 105, or permission of the instructor.


This course will guide students through the earliest plays of the European tradition, reading a range of Greek and Roman tragedies in translation. Selected plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Seneca will be studied in their intellectual, historical, and performance contexts. We will consider how classical tragedy has shaped the whole tradition of Western drama, while paying particular attention to what makes classical tragedy unique, including the chorus, the integration of speech and song, and the innovative use of mythological tradition. We will also study borderline cases between tragedy and comedy, including examples of satyr drama, prosatyric tragedy, and “tragicomedy”, to explore how we define tragedy and the tragic.



CLST 312 Matron, Mother, Mistress, Merchant, Murderer.

Women played a variety of roles in ancient Roman society and in this course we will examine the evidence that we have for women’s lives as well as how they were perceived by their male contemporaries and what value to society they were believed to have. Through a critical analysis of the material and visual culture and inscriptional, legal, and literary sources we will explore the realities and ambiguities of Roman women’s lives from imperial wives to household slaves and also consider the roots of modern conceptions and perceptions of women in the Western world today.
Prerequisites: Second-year standing or above.


Classical Studies 311 examines the cultural representations and “real lives” of women in ancient Greece in the archaic (c. 800-500 BCE) and classical (c. 500-330 BCE) ages. The images projected in myth, literature and the visual arts are compared with the “realities” of women’s lives insofar as these can be reconstructed from historical, legal and archaeological records.
Two important purposes of the study of women in antiquity are to recover Greek women’s history which, until recently, has been missing from general histories of ancient Greece, and to gain insight into the cultural dynamics of a society that subordinated women.
Prerequisites: Second-year standing or above.


Classical Studies 301 helps students understand the Greek and Latin elements which are used in medical and biological terminology: students learn how to deconstruct medical and biological terminology into ordinary English so that they can easily understand and remember the language of biology and medicine. Students also learn the principles behind the construction of the terminology. The course is designed primarily for science students, particularly those in the biological or pre-medical fields, but students from other areas of study are also very welcome. No knowledge of the Greek or Latin languages is required, and no knowledge of anatomy or physiology is required.  The course additionally provides relevant material from ancient literary, mythological, historical, and medical sources, in order to furnish a cultural context for the elements under discussion.

The course is offered both on-campus and on-line in both the fall and winter terms, and both cover the same vocabulary. For the on-campus section, course materials are provided through the course website and in the twelve classroom lectures; students also attend six tutorials, where they practice their skills in creating and defining terms. There is a midterm as well as a final exam. For the on-line section, all materials are on-line, and there are weekly assignments and quizzes; there is no midterm, but there is a must-pass final exam.

Prerequisites: None.


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

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