Assignments for Humanities 201, The Western Tradition I, Spring 2016

Welcome to the Course!

What this course is about: the development of Christendom, by which I mean Western culture or "the West" as it existed in the thirteenth century before the Renaissance and the Reformation occurred. We briefly look at the nature of the Renaissance and the Reformation, too. You should leave the course having an idea of what is distinctive about Western culture—what sort of thing Christendom was—and how Christendom became Christendom. Dawson will be our main guide.

For the Final:

The final will be a two-hour essay exam that covers the entire semester, but focuses primarily on the material from the second half of the course—the Christopher Dawson text and related primary materials.

As I indicated in class, The questions will be general and will require you to use details and specific information from the readings to support your answers. In this way, I get to see the range and depth of your knowledge of the course materials. The more detailed the essays, the better. Probably three essay questions. That gives you forty minutes a question; time for lots of details.

One question will be rooted in Dawson's discussion of the nature of "culture" and its dissemination. One question will ask you to provide examples of the "double process" or "interpenetration" of cultural interaction that Dawson repeatedly emphsizes was the way in which Western Civilization/Christendom came into being. One question may require you to identify by author, title, and "genre" (where appropriate) of some of the primary materials that we read during the second half of the semester, materials that will then serve as the basis for an essay question. Don't spend too much time trying to memorize the primary readings, but you should be familiar with the authors or titles (sometimes both) and not simply vague generalities of some of the key works that we studied. (By "genre," I mean the type of literature—capitularies, penitentials, oaths, histories come to mind.) Again, don't try to memorize this stuff now, but review the primary readings that were assigned and note who wrote what. The identifications are always worth just a few points, but recognition of the nature of the literature in the quoted passages is important to set up the essay question.

See you at noon in the classroom. Bring pens, your student ID, no phones. Do not plan on bathroom breaks. Physical therapy for writer's cramps is available at the infirmary immediately after the exam.

For the Week of April 25th:

Popes of Questionable Virtue

Christological heresies

Arianism, Docetism and Ebionism compared with the Qur’an

Here is the list of presentations for Friday:

Each ten-minute presentation should be a two-page, double-spaced paper that uses at least two sources—one scholarly (a source with footnotes and bibliography, either on the internet or in hard copy)—in addition to the Dawson text. Tell us something interesting about your subject and try to relate it to the information that Dawson gives us about the subject.

Each of you must also ask at least one substantive question during the seventy-five minute class period (not one question asked of each presenter).

For Tuesday, the assignment is chapters 3 and 4 of Dawson on the nature of culture and cultural diffusion. I will also try to tie up any loose ends from earlier readings. Bring your questions; I do not want to lecture.

For the Week of April 18th (and the rest of the semester):

For Friday, please finish chapters 14 and 15 of Dawson. We will begin with a film on Romanesque art, which is briefly discussed in chapter 15. I need your topics for your presentations next week.

The material to be covered over the final two weeks of the semester is (1) Dawson, chapters 13-15 (this week) and chapters 3-4 (next week), (2) relevant primary materials, and (3) your presentations on either Tuesday or Friday of the the week of April 25th. This amounts to about 35 pages of Dawson this week and 40 pages next week.

For Tuesday, please read (1) Dawson, chapter 13 and at least half of chapter 14, (2) King Alfred's "Preface" to St. Gregory's Pastoral Care ((English translation from Bucknell University)), and (3) Pope Gregory VII's Dictatus Papae, A.D.1075, marking the Church's challenge to Imperial authority.

Having met such characters as Charles the Bald and Louis the German in chapter 12, you should prepare to become acquainted with St. Odo and Rollo the Viking, William the Pious (not to be confused with his ancestor William Short Nose), Lewis the Child, Notker the Stammerer, and, last but not least—well, maybe the least—the second Notker. You are not going to meet this cast of characters in General Biology. (Do you think William Short Nose would have been called something else if buttons had been around in 755? When were buttons invented?)

Here is a list of topics for next week's presentations. I selected the topics so that the presentations will fill in the history of the tenth through thirteenth centuries that Dawson discusses in the assigned chapters.

  1. Cluniac monasticism
  2. Cistercian monasticism
  3. the investiture controversy
  4. the papacy from Benedict IX to Gregory VII
  5. the crusades
  6. the penitentials
  7. Carolingian and Ottonian capitularies
  8. the Cathars
As before, these are not significant research projects but do require at least one journal or book source in addition to internet sources. The papers should be two pages, double-spaced, and read in class. No more than two on one topic. I can help you with sources and selections and will be glad to do so. Have a preliminary choice by Tuesday. Maybe I'll try to change your mind.

For the Week of April 11th:

  1. Donation of Constantine, paragraphs 1-6, 14-17.
  2. Donation of Pepin: Description
  3. Charlemagne's Capitulary for Saxony, A.D.775-790 and Capitularies on Serfs & Coloni, A.D.803-821 (what exactly are "capitularies," anyway? Look it up.)
  4. this medieval penitential (know what a "penitential" is—read this website)
  5. King Alfred's "Preface" to St. Gregory's Pastoral Care, (English translation from Bucknell University).

Accounts of the Donation of Pepin and the other Carolingian Donations:

  1. Donation of Pepin: Historical Account
  2. The Carolingian Donations

For Friday, the Carolingian period—Charlemagne and the first European Renaissance: please read chapter 12 of the Dawson text and the short handout I gave you from Dawson's Religion and the Rise of Western Culture.

Chapter 12 discusses a key event in European history: the reign of Charles the Great, commonly known as Charlemagne. Dawson and other scholars argue that European history is marked by a number of renaissances, not just the one in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that is commonly called The Renaissance. Dawson also argues that the reign of Charlemagne marks the beginning of a new civilization, which is commonly called Western Civilization or the West. This is an important chapter.

A few study questions for chapter 12:

  1. According to Dawson, what forces cooperated to establish the beginnings of the new Western civilization called Christendom? (189-91)
  2. What is the function and duty of the new Christian kingship or Imperium Christianum? (192, 195)
  3. Briefly describe the territory and democgraphics of the Carolingian Empire. (193-194)
  4. How was the Carolingian Empire administered and governed? What administrative institution was established? (194)
  5. What provided the unity of the imperial culture? (194-95)
  6. If "renaissance" means rebirth and, particularly, rebirth or renewed interest in classical learning, why do we sometimes refer to a Carolingian Renaissance? (195-97)
  7. According to Dawson, why did the Carolingian Empire fail? (197-98)
  8. What happened about 1000 A.D. to enable Western Christian culture to regain its Carolingian predominance throughout much of Europe? (199-200)
  9. Why did the monastery movement survive the post-Carolingian period? (200-201)

For Tuesday, the monastic movement. Please read (1) chapter 11 (That's "XI" for you Latin buffs) of Dawson's text and (2) the rules of St. Benedict and St. Columba, both of which are available in the "Four Bs and a C" link that we used last week.

I apologize for my lack of organization today (Tuesday). Last week was an extremely busy one. Here is some material you will find helpful:

A few study questions to get you through Chapters 11 of Dawson:

  1. Keeping in mind the introduction to monasticism in chapter 8 (pp. 142-145), what role did monasticism play in Gaul following the Roman collapse? in Britain? in Ireland? (175-78)
  2. What two major monastic movements arose out of the post-collapse period? (178-81)
  3. According to Dawson, why has the significance of the so-called "dark ages" been under-appreciated for so long? (81-84)
  4. According to Dawson, what three elements combined to establish the foundation of Western Christian culture in the middle ages? (186))
  5. Why, according to Dawson, was monasticism such a powerful, "practically indestructible" force in the creation of a new civilization out of the ashes of the old? (186-88)
  6. According to Dawson, what is his aim or purpose in these lectures? This is extremely important in understanding the importance of the contents of the book. (187)

Celtic monasticism.

One of the outstanding features of Celtic Christianity was the monastic movement. Thousands of people learned about the earliest monks from the deserts of Egypt and Palestine, and copied their way of life. Tiny hermitages were built on cliffs, and rocky outcrops became monastic sites. In Western Europe the culture of the Roman Christian world was largely lost in the Fifth and Sixth Century as pagan barbarians (such as the Goths, Lombards, Franks, and Anglo-Saxons) settled. Levels of education, literacy, scholarship and culture declined. This was the period often called the Dark Ages. It was during this dark period that monasticism reached Britain and Ireland. The model of monasticism used in the Celtic lands was largely Egyptian or eastern, with the same monastic enclosure surrounding a collection of individual monastic cells. Monks and nuns took up a fierce struggle against temptation, using exactly the same methods as the earlier monastics of the desert. They even called their monastic centres the “desert”, and this word is common in Wales and Ireland. Monastic leaders such as Saint David or Saint Columba or Saint Columbanus established groups of monasteries, and wrote monastic rules for them - setting out the prayer services, penances and the fasting rules for the monks. "We have not formed a community in the monastery for quiet or security, but for struggle and conflict. We have met here for a contest; we have embarked on a war against our sins ... The struggle is full of hardships, full of dangers, for it is the struggle of man against himself... day after day we wage a war against our passions..." (Faustus, a Celtic Christian who became Bishop of Riez in France.) Although many modern writers like to describe the Celtic Christians as if they were New Age nature lovers, they were in fact simply very traditional Christians who maintained the customs of the early Church. They believed in the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and Salvation, though they expressed these in their own unique way.

("I found them!" The early Celtic monasteries in Europe.)

The Benedictine Rule.

The Rule, written during the years at Monte Cassino, was Benedict's foremost literary achievement; it was also the means by which he exerted such great influence on the history of monasticism, enabling the Benedictines to expand across Europe and dominate the religious life of the Middle Ages. Benedict's purpose was "to erect a school for beginners in the service of the Lord," and he promised his followers, "If then we keep close to our school and the doctrine we learn in it, and preserve in the monastery till death, we shall here share by patience in the Passion of Christ and hereafter deserve to be visited with Him in His kingdom." Unlike the rigorously ascetic and solitary life that was the model for Eastern [and Celtic] monasticism, Benedict's plan involved life in a community in which all members shared. Government was the responsibility of an elected abbot who ruled the monks as a father did his children. The details of daily life were set forward but were not "difficult or grievous." After 8 hours of sleep the monks got up for the night office, which was followed by six other services during the day. The remainder of the day was spent in labor and in study of the Bible and other spiritual books. A novice entered the community only after a probationary period, which tested him for the required virtues of humility and obedience. Benedict believed that the life of the monk depended on his brothers in the community to which he was bound for life. The monk's daily duties and responsibilities were carefully outlined. He was to leave behind the world and grow to "greater heights of knowledge and virtue" in the seclusion of the monastery. Benedict changed the monastic movement in the West. The chaotic pattern of isolated individuals or disorderly communities was transformed by a sense of organization and practicality. Men were brought together in communities ruled by discretion and moderation. In subsequent centuries the Rule of Benedict guided communities located over all of Europe.

For the Week of April 4th

As I mentioned in class, I am re-editing (patching together) excerpts for assignments. For Friday, I want you to add excerpts from Boethius and St. Augustine. To get you started, please read the excerpts from St. Augustine, and from and about Boethius in "Four Bs and a C." It should now be called "An A, Four Bs, and a C."

Here is the form for the timeline that I promised you.

Chronology of Historians

History of Cement and Concrete: A Classic Thriller!. Consider this with the Michael Wood video on Roman art and architecture.

For Tuesday: History Week on the History Channel: Please read the following excerpts from five Roman and Christian historians. As you read, consider:

It is a long assignment; allow yourself enough time to get through it, or most of it, by class on Tuesday. We will continue to discuss the material on Friday, but I do not want to lecture on Tuesday. Read it so you can discuss it.

Tacitus, Germania

St. Gregory of Tours and the Venerable Bede, two early Christian historians mentioned in chapter ten.

early Greek and Roman historians—Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius, Livy, Tacitus.

For the Week of March 28th:

For Friday, please read the rest of chapter eight and all of chapter ten of Dawson. For Tuesday, we will look at a number of primary materials from the period of the late empire and the early Dark Ages.

A few study questions to get you through chapter 10:

  1. According to Dawson, why did the Byzantine Christian state fail? Why did the Western Roman state fail (short answer)? What was different about these two collapses? What was left? (Pages 164-66)
  2. What led to the collapse of the Western Roman State (long answer)? How did the Roman ruling families adapt to the change? What melding eventually took place? (166-70)
  3. According to Dawson, what was the principal task of the Christians during the Dark Ages following the fall of the Western Roman empire? What was the principal obstacle to their task? What result?(170-72)

For Tuesday, please read Dawson, chapter 8, pp. 126 through first paragraph on 138, and nos. 1 & 2 below. (We might finally get to the Christian creeds on Tuesday, too.)

  1. Constantine and Licinius's Edict of Milan" (A.D. 313)

  2. Theodosius, Valentinian, and Gratian's Edict of Thessalonika (A.D. 380)

  3. Christian creeds

  4. St. Ambrose hymn "O Trinity of Blessèd Light"

  5. St. Ambrose hymn "Come, Holy Ghost, With God the Son"

For the Class of March 22d:

Please (1) complete chapter seven of Dawson's text (use the study questions below), (2) review the Christian creeds that I handed out, (3) read one of these these two short descriptions of neoplatonism (or neoplatonism), and read this account of the ancient mystery cults of Greece and Rome.

Chapter 10 of Dawson and some primary materials when we return.

For the Week of March 14th:

For Friday, using the handout of excerpts that I gave you (Sources of the Western Tradition by Marvin Perry; extra copies are in the rack on my office door), please read the brief outline of Roman history on pp. 69-70 and the excerpts from Plutarch and Epicurus (pp. 64-67); Cicero and Cato (pp. 74-77); Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian (pp. 106-108); and this fragment from the Nag Hammadi Gnostic library, The Apocalypse of Paul. You should also review the Christian creeds that I handed out a couple of weeks ago. Additional fragments from the Nag Hammadi library can be found here. We briefly review most of the excerpts from the Marvin Perry handout in class on Tuesday. What we want to do in class Friday is compare and contrast their the various ideas found in the Stoic, Epicurean, Gnostic, and Christian writings about the nature of the universe, salvation, the nature of man, the proper life, and the unique characteristics of the religion, the philosophy, or the religious-philosophy in question.

Welcome back! For Tuesday, please read Dawson, chapter 7, from page 111 to the last paragraph on page 118. We will look at some of the non-Christian philosophic and religious influences in Rome on Friday.

Chapter 7 follows the history of the early Christians from the second to the fourth centuries and the change in the Christian church after the death of the last of the original apostolic leaders of the Christians. Dawson also focuses on the relation of the Christians to the Hellenic culture in which it was developing. What were the Christian responses to the Hellenic culture and to Hellenic philosophy during these centuries? What made Christianity different from the competing philosophies or religious philosophies that sought to attract Roman followers during these centuries?

A few study questions for chapter 7 of Dawson, "Christianity and the Greek World":

  1. What are the two "Hellenisms" that Dawson describes?
  2. What were the oriental religions and influences that made their appearance in the Roman world of the second century?
  3. What, according to Dawson, did they all have in common?
  4. Who were the early fathers of the Christian religion?
  5. What were the Christian responses to classical Greek culture and philosophy?
  6. Why, according to Dawson, could the Romans not dismiss Christianity as just another oriental sect?

I will also return the exams on Tuesday.

For the Week of February 29th:

There may be some snow tomorrow morning, but I am pretty sure school will be open all day. If you cannot make it to school by 11:00, email me. If you arrive before 12:15, there will be no problem: come to the classroom. After 12:15, with a legitimate excuse, I will arrange for you to take the exam. So keep in touch throughout the morning.

The mid-term exam will consist of two or three essay questions that ask about (1) the development of Greek thought in light of Bruno Snell's argument, (2) the development of Judeo-Christian thought in light of William Irwin's and Christopher Dawson's arguments, and (3) some comparison-contrast of the two lines of development either in a third question or as part of the questions on the Greek and the Judeo-Christian traditions. You should be familiar enough with the primary readings to be able to identify the different types of sources (epic, lyric, and tragic poetry; philosophical writings; Old Testament myths and historical writings, Old Testament prophetic writings; and New Testament writings.) Identification by author and title of work is always appreciated, but because many of the assigned readings were either known fragments of lost works or bits and pieces of larger works, identification simply by the types listed above will be sufficient.

You should be able to respond to general questions based on the Snell, Irwin, and Dawson readings with general answers supported by details from the assigned primary readings. The more specific detail, the better. Demonstrate to me that you have read the materials and that you are able to discuss them. Do not just recite grand generalities, even though they may be correct. As they say, the Devil is into details! And so am I.

If they don't say that, well, they should.

For Tuesday, please read chapter six of the Dawson text and the handout on Old and New Testament covenants.

Friday is the mid-term exam.

We will begin the second half of the semester after break with chapter seven of Dawson and readings from the religious philosophies that competed with Christianity (and Judaism) in the Hellenic world: Epicureanism and Stoicism.

For the Week of February 22d:

We will continue to two-track the class this week. As announced, we will focus the beginning of class on Tuesday on Irwin's essay and the Old Testament passages reflecting his argument. For Friday, please read chapter five of Christopher Dawson's Formation of Christendom. The beginning of Friday's class will begin with that. The last half hour of each class will be devoted to the video on Classical art (available at the bottom of this page).

For Friday, as you read Dawson, consider the following study questions:

  1. What is the relation of divine revelation to the world's great religions?
  2. According to Dawson, Israel was unique among ancient world cultures in at least three ways: (1) How was Israel's response to divine revelation unique?
  3. (2) How was Israel's socio-political attitude different?
  4. (3) How was Israel's status as a civilization unique?
  5. What, according to Dawson, is the cause of this uniqueness?
  6. What is the historical source of the Hebrew religion?
  7. What is the historical source of the Israelite people or Israelite nation?
  8. What are the three fundamental teachings of the priests and the prophets?
  9. According to Dawson, what is the key to Judeo-Christian revelation?
  10. What was the principal challenge to Israelite culture after the Israelites settled in Palestine?
  11. What was the job of the prophets?
  12. How did Israel's historical perspective change as a result of the Prophets' teaching?
  13. What effect on this perspective did the Exile or Babylonian Captivity have?
  14. In what did post-Exilic Israel put its hope?
  15. What Jewish sects existed at the time of the coming of Christ?
  16. What is the Old Covenant? the New Covenant?
  17. What is unique about the Judeo-Christian religion among the world's great religions?
  18. Why is the Old Testament important for understanding the New?
  19. What is the significant about "the Law and the Prophets"?
  20. What are four fundamental themes common to Judaism and Christianity?

Some of the questions have simple, straight-forward answers; others call for some pondering on the reading. Each of the questions proceeds a bit later in the chapter from the previous question.

For the Week of February 15th:

The handouts for Tuesday and Friday are in the rack on my office door: William Irwin's essay on the Hebrew conception of God for Tuesday; the Old Testament passages/excerpts for Friday. The Irwin essay is only available in the handout; it is not online. Excerpts from the Old Testament prophets, as well as a chapter from Dawson's Formation of Christendom will follow next week.

As you read the Old Testament passages, look for changes in the understanding of God/Yahweh/Jehova and man and for the early understandings of justice. Follow the guidelines of the introductory section of the readings (the material in bold at the beginning of the excerpts).

I will email you to confirm the day—Tuesday or Friday—that you are giving your paper, and then I will post it here.

The schedule for presenting your papers is as follows:

For the Week of February 8th:

I would like a couple of the papers to be given on Friday. I will expect more from the students who wait until Tuesday the 16th, so you will not be placed at a great disadvantage by presenting on Friday.

In case I do not get any volunteers or only one or two, the default reading assignment is (1) Plato's Parable of the Cave and Aristotle's conception of the four causes. These are famous passages that you have probably met before, but note how they reflect a completion of the development that Snell describes.

The papers should be typed, double-spaced, with standard margins using a 12-point font. No title page, bibliography, or footnotes are necessary; make references to the text (line numbers and so on) in your narrative. For instance, "In line 8 of the 'Hymn to Aphrodite' (Myatt translation), Sappho uses the three-part heaven-middle air-earth schema common in ancient and medieval literature."

In your first paragraph, briefly describe your subject—play, dialogue, fragments, poems—to the class so that we have an idea of what you are talking about.

Your paper should focus on the themes that we have been following and demonstrate how your subject reflects or departs from one of the themes. Now that you have some Greek literature under your belt, your paper should compare and contrast your subject to other stages of the development of the Greek mind and soul or to other examples of the same stage. For example, compare and contrast a tragedy to the Agamemnon or to the lyric poetry or philosophy that was assigned.

This is not a research paper. The only new material in your paper should be what you choose to focus on. Compare and contrast it to what has been assignedto the class. No other secondary material besides the excerpts from Snell should be used. In two pages, you have space to make an observation about your chosen material and its relation to one of the themes of the course and to support your observation with evidence (i.e., references to the sources). That's it! Keep it simple and direct.

Come to class with a copy for you and a copy for me. Be prepared to read it to the class. Keep us awake!

For Monday, in the handout that I placed in the rack on my office door, please read (1) the fragments of pre-Socratic philosophers Thales, Anaximander, and Xenophanes (the rest of the fragments are not assigned; see below) and (2) the excerpt from Plato's dialogue the Meno. Extra copies are available in the rack, or you can use these links. These examples of the emergence of thinking that Snell (and most all scholars) call "philosophy" are unprecedented and unparalleled in the rest of the world. As you read the short excerpts, again compare them with the other readings of the course and consider the following questions:

Beginning either on Friday or on Tuesday (February 16), you will present a two-page paper on one of the four genres of literature that we have been reading:

Your paper should focus on material that was not assigned in class: for example, other books of the Iliad or Odyssey or other material of Hesiod or other poems from the epic cycle; the other lyric poems that were part of the handout; another tragedy (approved by me); the other pre-Socratic fragments I gave you or another Platonic dialogue. In other words, other material that should be about as long as the material assigned in class. It is not a research paper.

You should choose what is of interest to you, but I would like only two students to present papers on each of the four areas (2 X 4 = 8 students). To decide who gets what, I would like you to send me an email ranking your choices. I will assign them on a first come-first served basis and let you know as soon as possible so that you and I can determine what exactly you will write about.

For the Week of February 1st:

OK. Now I think we are ready to apply some of the overarching ideas of the course and of Snell's book to the Agamemnon. For Friday, please write a couple of paragraphs on one of the following questions:

Be prepared to read it in class. Keep this informal: no title page; just one page; double-spaced; two paragraphs at the most.

I want to change the assignment for Tuesday (make it a bit less work for you!) that I described in class on Friday. I would like you to read (1) the Agamemnon by Aeschylus (the translation by Lattimore that I handed out) and (2) both of the excerpts from Bruno Snell's book that I have handed out--the "Introduction" and the first few pages of chapter one that discuss some of the Greek words that Homer used in his poems. I realized after class that the short paper or paragraphs that I want you to write about the play require the more extensive discussion of Snell's arguments that was in part blotted out by the snow. So, we will begin the class with a discussion of the Snell excerpts ( I will add another short one in class) and postpone the paper until Friday, tying it to the pre-Socratic fragments that we will look at on Friday.

For Tuesday's class, consider the following as you read Agamemnon:

  1. Be able to identify all the characters, human and divine, and explain their significance to the plot in Agamemnon.
  2. What is the plot? What is the central issue or question or conflict calling for resolution in the play?
  3. How is that issue or conflict resolved? Is it finally resolved? The Agamemnon was the first of three plays (a trilogy) that were intented to be presented together; in other words, it is comparable to the first act of a three-act play. What do you suppose took place in the second and third act?
  4. How is the portrayal of human nature in the Agamemnon different from Archilochos's budding understanding of human nature in his lyric poems? Is the Agamemnon and "advance" over the earlier lyric poems? Does it represent a "development" of the Greeks' self-awareness that Snell is discussing in his book?

Tragic Poetry. Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.) was one of the three great tragic poets of classical Greece. He wrote more than seventy plays for the Dionysia Festival at Athens; seven remain, and among them the three plays of the Oresteia trilogy—Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, Eumenides. Sophocles (496-406 B.C.), his younger contemporary, is known best, perhaps, for the three plays that focus on the tragic life of King Oedipus—Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone. The three were not written as a trilogy. Only seven of his more than one hundred twenty plays have survived. The youngest of the three great tragedians, though a contemporary of Sophocles, is Euripides (480-406 B.C.). Eighteen of Euripedes's more than ninety plays have survived, including Medea, Trojan Women, and The Bacchae or Bacchants.

You should recognize the difference between epic, lyric, and tragic poetry and the significance of each of these forms in the evolution from mythic thought to rational or philosophic thought. The development of philosophic thought parallels the development of the Greeks' understanding of the nature of man and man's relation to the gods and the divine.

For Friday's class, January 29th:

All right. Let's get back to order. The assignment for tomorrow, Friday, January 29th, is the original assignment for Friday, January 22d: (1) the excerpts from Hesiod's Theogony and the selected poems of Archilochos and (2) the excerpt from Bruno Snell's The Discovery of the Mind that I handed out in class.

There are copies of Aeschylos's play The Agamemnon in the rack on my office door. There will be a short written assignment relating to the play for Tuesday, so pick up a copy and start reading it as soon as you can. For next Friday, some selections from the pre-Socratic philosophers and another short excerpt from Snell's book. Then, a short dialogue from Plato, probably the Meno.

For the Week of January 18th:

For Friday, please read (1) the excerpts from Hesiod's Theogony and the selected poems of Archilochos and (2) the excerpt from Bruno Snell's The Discovery of the Mind that I handed out in class. Extra copies are in the rack on my office door.

The poet Hesiod lived and wrote a few decades after Homer wrote the Iliad. What is the subject of his poem, the Theogony? What is Hesiod explaining? What kind of an explanation is he giving? Does his explanation make sense (even if you do not accept it)? Is it rational? logical? mytho-poeic? Does it reflect an advance from Homer's view of the world? Keep in mind the progression of mythopoeic thinking that the Frankforts describe on pages 8-10 of "Myth and Reality," which we discussed last week.

More specifically in the poem, what does "theogony" mean? Where did the Greek gods literally come from? What is Hesiod trying to do here? What existed at the beginning of time? Generally, what happened thereafter, according to Hesiod? What stages in the history of the gods are described in the assigned readings?

The reading assignment is some fragments of Greek lyric (written to be sung, accompanied by a string instrument, the lyre) poetry. Greek lyric poetry, written in the seventh, sixth, and fifth centuries B.C. (the Iliad and Odyssey are usually dated in the eighth century), marks a step between the epic poetry of Homer and Hesiod and the later fragments of the Pre-Socratic philosophers (the sixth and fifth centuries). See if you can find answers in three or four of the poems to the following questions, which are based on the excerpt from Bruno Snell:

  1. Can you point to any evidence in any of the poems that shows that the poet thinks of himself differently from the way Homer or Hesiod thought of themselves?
  2. Can you find passages in the lyric poems that reflect people thinking for themselves or having feelings and emotions that begin within themselves rather than being placed within them by the gods?
  3. Do the lyric poems reflect the same attitude toward the world as Homer's Iliad, Hesiod's Theogony, or neither of the two? Why?
  4. Is there anything different about the lyric poets' attitude toward the gods or themselves when compared to Homer's and Hesiod's? What? If not, how are all three sets of poems the same?

Please read Book one of the Odyssey and Book one of the Iliad. You may use any of the following online translations or another translation if you have a copy of either the Iliad or Odyssey. My own favorites are the translations by Lattimore and Fagles.

For Book One of the Iliad,

For Book One of Homer's Odyssey:

(I suggest the Murray translation if you do not have a hard copy of another translation. Move forward and back in the Murray translation by using the little blue arrows in the upper left-hand corner of the text.)

Butler calls the Greek gods by their Roman/Latin names. Thus, the Greek goddess Athene is called Minerva, Zeus is Jove, Poseidon is Neptune; the human hero of the poem, Odysseus, after whom the poem is named, is Ulysses, and so on (click here for a useful guide to the dual names).

The Iliad and the Odyssey were two of the poems about the Trojan war that were part of the Epic Cycle. Except for the Iliad and the Odyssey, the other poems of the Epic Cycle have been lost, although (1) fragments of each of them and (2) references to, and quotations from, them in the writings of other authors remain and give us a good idea of the contents of each. (The famous story of the Trojan horse, for instance, is not found in the Iliad or the Odyssey: it is found in the so-called Sack of Ilion.)

If this material is totally new to you, you might also want to watch the Eugen Weber videos on "The Western Tradition" linked at the very bottom of this web page. Videos 1-4 discuss various aspects of the "mythopoeic" primitive peoples, to use the Frankforts' term. Video #5 provides a good intro to classical Greek culture. Check them out.

The book that I use as a guide for this section of the course on the ancient Greeks is Bruno Snell's Discovery of the Mind. (You will be reading an excerpt for Friday's class.)

Snell says that "the intellect [mind or soul] was not discovered, and did not come into being, until after the time of Homer, [but] we realize that Homer conceived of the thing which we call intellect in a different manner, and that in a sense the intellect existed also for him, though not qua [as] intellect." In other words, Homer knew that people could think—people had ideas, feelings, thoughts—but he did not describe the process of thinking that is familiar to all of us in the same way that we would describe it today. What examples can you find of people such as Achilles or Agamemnon or Telemachus (Odysseus's son) thinking or feeling but that describe those moments in ways different from the way we would describe them today? Why does Agamemnon get mad? What is the source of his and Achilles's ideas? Where does Telemachus get the resolve to go looking for his father?

What is the significance of the opening lines of each assigned poem? How do they reflect Snell's idea that the intellect had not yet been discovered in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C.?

Hesiod's Theogony. (This translation of the poem is in prose with the line numbers of the original poem version in parentheses at the beginning of each paragraph.) You do not have to read the whole poem, but you should be familiar with the content in lines 1-225, 453-491, and 543-744, and should skim the rest of the poem. It is fun to read.

Does Hesiod's poem about the origins of the gods remind you of either the article by the Frankforts or the article by Snell? What kind of information is Hesiod conveying to his readers? With the Frankforts' article in mind, would you call Hesiod's attitude "scientific" or "mythopoeic" or "mid-way between the two"? Why?

For the Final:

The exam will consist of three essay questions: two focusing on the material since the last mid-term and one on the whole semester. The material since the last mid-term is as follows:

  1. Dawson, chapters 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.
  2. Excerpts from Gregory of Tours and the Venerable Bede
  3. Excerpts from the monastic rules of St. Benedict and St. Columba (no need to distinguish between the two)
  4. Charlemagne's capitularies.
  5. King Alfred's Preface (what was Alfred's main concern?)
  6. The materials on penitentials (what was their significance?)
  7. The materials on the donations of Constantine, Pepin, and Charlemagne (who donated what to whom?)
  8. The Coronation oath of Edward II (example of Christian kingship)
  9. Urban II's call to the crusade (what reasons did he give for the crusade? what promises did he make?)
  10. Gregory VII's Dictatus Papae (what was the agenda of the papal reformers? what does the agenda—things that the reformers wanted to accomplish—tell us about the condition of the papacy and the Church when Gregory VII became pope?)

One or both of the questions on this material will have identifications attached. The cumulative question on the course will not have identifications.

To prepare for the cumulative question, consider what this course was all about: the formation of the early stage of Western culture or Western civilization—Christendom. To quote the first entry on this webpage: "You should leave the course having an idea of what is distinctive about Western culture—what sort of thing Christendom was—and how Christendom became Christendom."

For the Week of April 28ththe last week:

For Tuesday, please read chapter 13 of Dawson (I already assigned the first section on Alfred) and the following primary materials:

  1. Pope Gregory VII's Dictatus Papae, A.D.1075, marking the Church's challenge to Imperial authority.
  2. The famous speech of Pope Urban II at Clermont in A.D.1095, touching off the first crusade.
  3. The Coronation Oath of English King Edward II, 1308.
The assignment for Friday will be Dawson, chapter 14 and the first three paragraphs of chapter 15.

For the Class of April 25th:

For Friday, the new material in Dawson that I want you to read is Section One of Chapter 13 (Pp.202-207), "Feudal Europe and the Age of Anarchy" (for an account of Alfred the Great) and these accounts of the Donation of Pepin and the other Carolingian Donations:

  1. Donation of Pepin: Historical Account
  2. The Carolingian Donations

Then, the "Snow Days Writing Assignment," or SDWA for short: Please read the following short excerpts that are referred to in the Dawson text.

  1. Donation of Constantine, paragraphs 1-6, 14-17.
  2. Donation of Pepin: Description
  3. Charlemagne's Capitulary for Saxony, A.D.775-790 and Capitularies on Serfs & Coloni, A.D.803-821 (what exactly are "capitularies," anyway? Look it up.)
  4. this medieval penitential (know what a "penitential" is—read this website)
  5. King Alfred's "Preface" to St. Gregory's Pastoral Care, (English translation from Bucknell University).

For each of these five documents, write a one paragraph description of the content and, using the Dawson text or the other assigned readings above or accompanying the documents, its importance in medieval history. The assignment should be no longer than one page. You will probably see quotes from some of these documents again on the Final.

For the Week of April 15th:

For , please read chapter 14 of Dawson on the renewal of the papacy in the eleventh century and the famous speech of Pope Urban II at Clermont in A.D.1095, touching off the first crusade. Also, Pope Gregory VII's Dictatus Papae, A.D.1075.

For Friday, a potpourri of Carolingian era literature: please read ; ; and finally Beowulf (Episodes One and Two).

See also the originals at Bucknell. You only have to write about the English translation of the Preface.

For the Class of April 15th:

Please read Dawson, ch. 12, "The Carolingian Age." I will also give you a written assignment to be completed over the break. (We will not meet again until April 25th.) This will satisfy the University requirement to make up the snow days cancellations.

Chapter 12 discusses a key event in European history: the reign of Charles the Great, commonly known as Charlemagne, the subject of this year's Leverett Lecture, which you were asked to attend a few weeks ago. Dawson and other scholars argue that European history is marked by a number of renaissances, not just the one in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that is commonly called The Renaissance. Dawson also argues that the reign of Charlemagne marks the beginning of a new civilization, which is commonly called Western Civilization or the West. This is an important chapter.

A few study questions for chapter 12:

  1. According to Dawson, what forces cooperated to establish the beginnings of the new Western civilization called Christendom? (189-91)
  2. What is the function and duty of the new Christian kingship or Imperium Christianum? (192, 195)
  3. Briefly describe the territory and democgraphics of the Carolingian Empire. (193-194)
  4. How was the Carolingian Empire administered and governed? What administrative institution was established? (194)
  5. What provided the unity of the imperial culture? (194-95)
  6. If "renaissance" means rebirth and, particularly, rebirth or renewed interest in classical learning, why do we sometimes refer to a Carolingian Renaissance? (195-97)
  7. According to Dawson, why did the Carolingian Empire fail? (197-98)
  8. What happened about 1000 A.D. to enable Western Christian culture to regain its Carolingian predominance throughout much of Europe? (199-200)
  9. Why did the monastery movement survive the post-Carolingian period? (200-201)

For the Week of April 7th:

For Friday, we will read chapter 11 on the important role of the monks and monasteries in Europe during the Dark Ages. We will also look at the monastic rules of St. Benedict and St. Columba. I also want to go over some of the material in chapter 10 again. In particular Dawson's idea of the "Christian culture process" and the complementary theme of cultural interpenetration or mutual cultural influence. What do you think these ideas mean?

A few study questions to get you through Chapters 10 & 11 of Dawson:

  1. According to Dawson, why did the Byzantine Christian state fail? Why did the Western Roman state fail (short answer)? What was different about these two collapses? What was left? (Pages 164-66)
  2. What led to the collapse of the Western Roman State (long answer)? How did the Roman ruling families adapt to the change? What melding eventually took place? (166-70)
  3. According to Dawson, what was the principal task of the Christians during the Dark Ages following the fall of the Western Roman empire? What was the principal obstacle to their task? What result?(170-72)
  4. Keeping in mind the introduction to monasticism in chapter 8 (pp. 142-145), what role did monasticism play in Gaul following the Roman collapse? in Britain? in Ireland? (175-78)
  5. What two major monastic movements arose out of the post-collapse period? (178-81)
  6. According to Dawson, why has the significance of the so-called "dark ages" been under-appreciated for so long? (81-84)
  7. According to Dawson, what three elements combined to establish the foundation of Western Christian culture in the middle ages? (186))
  8. Why, according to Dawson, was monasticism such a powerful, "practically indestructible" force in the creation of a new civilization out of the ashes of the old? (186-88)
  9. According to Dawson, what is his aim or purpose in these lectures? This is extremely important in understanding the importance of the contents of the book. (187)

For this Tuesday, please read Dawson, chapter 10 ("The Church and the Conversion of the Barbarians") and these excerpts from St. Gregory of Tours and the Venerable Bede, two early Christian historians mentioned in the chapter.

The Dawson chapter describes the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the Dark Ages, a period of about 500 years that we (along with many others) will identify as A.D. 500 to 1000. Note on page 166 Dawson's definition of "barbarism" and, by implication, "civilization." It is a useful and oft-cited definition.

Assignments for the Week of March 31st:

For Tuesday please read chapter 7 in Dawson, "Christianity and the Greek World." A few study questions:

  1. What are the two "Hellenisms" that Dawson describes?
  2. What were the oriental religions and influences that made their appearance in the Roman world of the second century?
  3. What, according to Dawson, did they all have in common?
  4. Who were the early fathers of the Christian religion?
  5. What were the Christian responses to classical Greek culture and philosophy?
  6. Why, according to Dawson, could the Romans not dismiss Christianity as just another oriental sect?

In looking over the syllabus schedule and our snow-hampered progress this semester, I find that we are only one class behind the schedule. The syllabus called for a mid-term yesterday, Friday, MArch 28th. I would therefore like to schedule the mid-term for next Friday, April 4th. The following is what you can expect:

The exam will cover all of the assigned material since the last exam:

  1. The Old Testament readings (two sets/links)— the stories and the prophets.
  2. The excerpt from William Irwin.
  3. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 from Dawson's Formation of Christendom.
  4. The New Testament Readings and the Creeds.
  5. The excerpts from the Stoics, Epicureans, Gnostics, and Christians on the Documents of the Roman Era link.

Most of the themes from the first part of the course carry over to this material as well:

  1. the discovery over several centuries of the human soul and mind
  2. the development of "philosophy" or non-mythopoeic thinking to understand the world
  3. the development of different understandings of justice
  4. man's evolving understanding of the nature of God (or the gods), and
  5. man's evolving understanding of our proper relationship to God (or the gods).

The new themes reflected in the three assigned chapters of Dawson's book are the following:

  1. Chapter 5 discusses the "intimate connection between Christianity and Judaism," how "deeply Christianity was rooted in the Old Testament and in the Jewish tradition." Chapter 5, unlike the following two chapters, is a theological discussion rather than a historical account. What were the Old Covenant and the New Covenant? What were the Old Testament themes that carried over into Christianity? What made the Jews and the Christians essentially different from the other world religions existing in the ancient world?
  2. Chapter 6 discusses the developments in Christianity up to the middle of the second century (or about A.D. 150). In particular, Dawson focuses on the role of the messianic prophecies—the eschatological or end times expectation—of both the Jews throughout their history and the Christians in that first century after Christ. How did the expectations of the Jews significantly change in the six or seven centuries between the fall of the southern kingdon of Judah and the final unsuccessful revolt against Rome in the second sentury A.D.? How did the Christians' expectation of the future change between the time of Christ and the middle of the second century? Here, again, Dawson discusses the relation and meaning of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
  3. Chapter 7 follows the history of the early Christians from the second to the fourth centuries and the change in the Christian church after the death of the last of the original apostolic leaders of the Christians. Dawson also focuses on the relation of the Christians to the Hellenic culture in which it was developing. What were the Christian responses to the Hellenic culture and to Hellenic philosophy during these centuries? What made Christianity different from the competing philosophies or religious philosophies that sought to attract Roman followers during these centuries?
Review the study questions for chapters 5, 6, and 7 below. The themes above are the major themes of the chapters, but the study questions will help you understand those themes better.

Assignments for the Week of March 24th:

For Friday, please read these excerpts from some of the major currents of religious and philosophical thought in the Roman Empire. Please start at the top and read the excerpts from Epicurus, the Stoics, and the Gnostics: Documents of the Roman Era.

For Tuesday, let's look at a lot of primary materials that support the points that Dawson makes in his book. We will also begin to read materials relating to the Roman Empire.

If you are not familiar with biblical notation, almost all of the books of the Bible are broken down into chapters, and all of the books are broken down further into verses. Notation refers to the abbreviated name of the book, the chapter number, and, after a colon, the verse number(s). Thus Matthew, chapter 5, verses 17 to 19, is noted as Mt. 5:17-19.

1. The Judeo-Christian Covenants. The New Covenant or New Testament is described in accounts of the Last Supper: Mk. 14:12-31 (see also Mt. 26:26-29; Lk. 22:17-23). Compare the new covenant to the covenants with Yahweh recounted in the Old Testament: Old Testament Covenants.

2. On Christ as fulfillment of Jewish prophesy: Matthew 5:1-48 (the Sermon on the Mount) (see also Mark (Mk) 1:1-11, and Luke (Lk) 4:14-21; 18:31-34; 24:25-27, 44). Compare to the Old Testament prophesy of Micah 5:2.

3. Matthew and Luke also provided genealogies (family histories) of Jesus to show his Jewish and ultimately divine, ancestry: Mt. 1:1-11 (Jesus back to David). See also Lk. 3:21-37 (Jesus back to Adam and to God).

4. The Major Christian Creeds. Here are the main Christian creeds or credos of the early and present-day church. Note the dates of the creeds: these statements took hundreds of years to develop and to be agreed upon. Four Christian Creeds

5. The views of Tertullian and of Clement of Alexandria on classical learning.

Here are additional sources if you want to read a bit more.

Epicurean Material:

Epicurus, "Principal Doctrines": read at least paragraphs 1-10, 29-38.

Stoic Materials:

Book Two of Stoic Marcus Aurelius's Meditations: read at least the first nine paragraphs.

Epictetus, The Enchiridion: read at least paragraphs 15, 22, 31.

Excerpts from Cicero, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius on Stoci cosmology.

Gnostic Materials:

The Manichaean Fifth Psalm to Jesus.

The Gnostic Apocalypse of Paul.

Assignments for the Week of March 17th:

Please read Dawson, chapter 6.

Some study questions for chapter 6, "The Coming of the Kingdom." These questions are not as paragraph-specific as were the questions for chapter 5 but rather questions that ask you to consider the different subjects that Dawson discusses as he progresses through the chapter. Like the last batch of questions, they take you through the chapter and do not jump around.

  1. How did the Jews and the Christians differently understand the "new kingdom" and the "new covenant," as prophesied?
  2. What were the major divisions of Judaism around the time of the birth of Christ?
  3. What happened to these different divisions?
  4. What were the major divisions (churches) of Christianity in the first century A.D.?
  5. As Christianity developed in the first century, how did its relationship to the Jews change?
  6. How did the Christians look on their place in the Roman Empire during this period?
  7. According to Dawson, what is the significance of the Epistle to the Hebrews?
  8. [Dawson turns to the problem of organizing or institutionalizing Christians into a church.] What, according to Dawson, is the significance of the letter of the fourth pope, St. Clement, at the end of the first century A.D.?
  9. According to Dawson, what were the main responses of the Christians to the persecutions by Roman officials in the first centuries A.D.?
  10. According to Dawson, did a Christian culture exist by the end of the first century?

I will base the quiz on these questions. I want to get an idea of how well you are understanding the text.

Let's try that again. Same assignment as last time: chapter 5 of Dawson's Formation of Christendom and a few passages from the new Testament:

Some study questions to work you through Dawson, chapter five:

  1. What is the relation of divine revelation to the world's great religions?
  2. According to Dawson, Israel was unique among ancient world cultures in at least three ways: (1) How was Israel's response to divine revelation unique?
  3. (2) How was Israel's socio-political attitude different?
  4. (3) How was Israel's status as a civilization unique?
  5. What, according to Dawson, is the cause of this uniqueness?
  6. What is the historical source of the Hebrew religion?
  7. What is the historical source of the Israelite people or Israelite nation?
  8. What are the three fundamental teachings of the priests and the prophets?
  9. According to Dawson, what is the key to Judeo-Christian revelation?
  10. What was the principal challenge to Israelite culture after the Israelites settled in Palestine?
  11. What was the job of the prophets?
  12. How did Israel's historical perspective change as a result of the Prophets' teaching?
  13. What effect on this perspective did the Exile or Babylonian Captivity have?
  14. In what did post-Exilic Israel put its hope?
  15. What Jewish sects existed at the time of the coming of Christ?
  16. What is the Old Covenant? the New Covenant?
  17. What is unique about the Judeo-Christian religion among the world's great religions?
  18. Why is the Old Testament important for understanding the New?
  19. What is the significant about "the Law and the Prophets"?
  20. What are four fundamental themes common to Judaism and Christianity?

Some of the questions have simple, straight-forward answers; others call for some pondering on the reading. Each of the questions proceeds a bit later in the chapter from the previous question.

Assignments for the Week of March 3d:

The assignment for Tuesday is these excerpts from the Old Testament prophets.

Assignment for Friday is

Assignments for the Week of February 24th:

For Friday, please read the handout by William Irwin on the Hebrews' understanding of God, as described in the passages from the Old Testament prophets. An extra copy of the handout is in the rack on my office door. On Tuesday, we will read the excerpts from the Prophets and some passages from the New Testament.

Please read the excerpts from the early books of the Old Testament for Tuesday.

Over the next two weeks we will read materials from and about the Bible, the scriptural basis of the Judeo-Christian tradition that will meet and form the new Western Culture in the ninth century. First, we look at the scriptural materials themselves and an excerpt from an article by William Irwin, then we begin the Dawson text for an account of how the two traditions (Judeo-Christian and Hellenic or Greco-Roman traditions) interacted.

As you read the Old Testament passages, look for changes in the understanding of God/Yahweh/Jehova and man and for the early understandings of justice. Follow the guidelines of the introductory section of the readings (the material in bold at the beginning of the excerpts).

Assignments for the Week of February 16th:

The mid-term will be three essay questions based entirely on the following themes and assigned sources:

We have read and seen evidence of the Greeks' increasing focus upon the individual, his powers and his place in the world. This is reflected in the following themes:

  1. the discovery over several centuries of the human soul and mind
  2. the development of "philosophy" or non-mythopoeic thinking to understand the world
  3. the development of different understandings of justice
  4. man's evolving understanding of the nature of God (or the gods), and
  5. man's evolving understanding of our proper relationship to God (or the gods).

The materials that will be covered on the first exam are the following:

  1. the excerpts from the article :Myth and Reality" by the Frankforts;
  2. the epic poetry excerpts from Homer and Hesiod;
  3. the lyric poems and fragments;
  4. the pre-Socratic philosophic fragments;
  5. a tragic poem-drama, The Eumenides;
  6. excerpts from Guthrie's book on the Sophists;
  7. Plato's dialogue, Euthyphro;
  8. the excerpts from Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Physics on the four causes;
  9. the Michael Wood film on Classical Greek art (just what we view in class: not the last half of the video on Roman art).

If you have been keeping up with the readings, take this opportunity to jot down some notes on how the different readings reflect the themes listed above. Not all of the writings are evidence of all of the themes; for example, the lyric poems say little or nothing about justice; Plato's parable of the cave says little about the gods. Each of the themes is supported by a few of the readings, however. You may want to set up a little chart with the themes and the writings (or video!) that relates to each theme and why or how it relates.

If you have not read one of the assignments, read it now. If you forget what the Frankforts or Guthrie write, go back and review the materials. Just about everything we covered will be on the exam someplace.

See you Friday. Bring pens (no pencils) and your student ID number. You will use your ID, not your name, on the blue book.

The Leverett Lecture on the Invention of Europe is on Wednesday at 2:00pm in Reinsch.

For Tuesday, a bit of Plato and Aristotle to round out our survey of the ancient Greeks: please read Plato's Parable of the Cave and Aristotle's conception of the four causes.

On Plato's parable, he intended this story as an allegory to illustrate and explain in a different way the theory of the "divided line" that he explained immediately before in the Republic (Book VI, 509-511). He is attempting to explain how people understand the world. This is called "epistemology." He argues that human beings and animals can both perceive qualities of color, shape, sound, taste, and so on, but that human understanding goes beyond animal understanding makes use of abstract ideas to understand reality. Abstract ideas are ideas of things like beauty and justice or relationships like over-under and addition or general qualities like whiteness or heaviness. This ability to grasp abstractions (we have all done it when we learned math and other relationships and when we recognize what something is, though we have never seen it before, because it resembles something we already know.

The parable of the cave sets out the steps that we must go through in order to understand things that all of us take for granted. See if you can relate the symbolic steps described in the parable to the real stages we might go through in figuring out what something is.

The excerpt from Aristotle is his famous doctrine of the four "causes" or four aspects of reality that we normally want to know if we want to understand what something is. I think you will be able to apply this to inquiries about man-made things, but what does Aristotle say about inquiries about natural things? See if you can translate Aristotle's somewhat formal language into plain English.

We will begin with a short identifications quiz on the readings thus far. The quiz will consist of a few quoted passages from the works that we have read, and you will be asked to identify them by author, title, and type of writing. For instance, if the quoted passage is from Homer's Iliad, you would indicate "Author: Homer," "Title: Iliad," "Type of Writing: Epic Poetry." And so on.

Now, you do not have to know each individual lyric poet and poem and each pre-Socratic philosopher that we read. If the quoted passage is from a lyric poem or a philosophical fragment, simply indicate that the author is "Lyric poet" or "pre-Socratic philosopher" and that the title is "fragment." If you want to take a shot at identifying the poet or philosopher and you are correct, I'll give you a bonus point. The authors and titles that you must know are Homer/Iliad, Hesiod/Theogony, Aeschylus/Eumenides, Plato/Euthyphro and Republic, Aristotle/Physics. (And get the spelling correct! We're no longer in high school.) The types of writing are epic poetry, lyric poetry, tragic poetry, and philosophy. These identifications will set up one or two of the essays.

The material on the video that we watched in class will be part of the material covered in the exam. You can watch the video again at your leisure by scrolling to the end of this page and clicking on the link to "Art of the Western World." We watched the first half of the first video.

Mid-term on Friday!

Assignments for the Week of February 9th:

For Friday, please read Plato's dialogue, Euthyphro. What are the definitions of "piety" or "holiness" (same thing here) that Socrates and his friend Euthyphro consider in the ourse of the dialogue? What final definition do they decide upon? How does this dialogue or "dialectical" inquiry mark a step further away from the mytho-poeic understanding of ancient man? The usual way of citing Plato is to the little numbers in brackets throughout this excerpt, which are called Stephanus Numbers.

We will start class next Tuesday with a short identificaitons quiz. The mid-term is next Friday, the 21st.

Please read the handout on the sophists for Tuesday. Extra copies for Corey and Marilyn are in the rack on my office door.

Keep in mind the themes (listed above) that we are following in all of the assigned readings thus far. The mid-term questions will be based squarely upon them. The quiz on Friday will ask you to identify some key passages of the readings thus far by author, title, and type of poetry. There will be one or two similar questions on the exam, so be sure you know who wrote what in this class (and how to spell the names and titles!).

Assignments for the Week of February 2d:

For Friday, please read the tragedy The Eumenides by Aeschylus. There will be a short quiz at the beginning of class, so don't be late!

Tragic Poetry. Please read The Eumenides by Aeschylus (trans. Morshead), one of the three great tragic poets of classical Greece. Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.) wrote more than seventy plays for the Dionysia Festival at Athens; seven remain, and among them the three plays of the Oresteia trilogy—Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, Eumenides. Sophocles (496-406 B.C.), his younger contemporary, is known best, perhaps, for the three plays that focus on the tragic life of King Oedipus—Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone. The three were not written as a trilogy. Only seven of his more than one hundred twenty plays have survived. The youngest of the three great tragedians, though a contemporary of Sophocles, is Euripides (480-406 B.C.). Eighteen of his more than ninety plays have survived, including Medea, Trojan Women, and The Bacchae or Bacchants.

Consider the following as you read The Eumenides:

  1. Be able to identify all the characters, human and divine, and explain their significance to the plot in The Eumenides.
  2. What is the plot? What is the central issue or question or conflict calling for resolution in the play?
  3. How is that issue or conflict resolved?
  4. Some students have pointed out that The Eumenides, written in the fifth century B.C., describes some institutions and practices familiar to us today. Can you identify any of these "modern" institutions or practices?

Please read these fragments by and about the first philosophers, who, since they lived in the century before the first famous philosopher Socrates, were collectively called the pre-Socratic philosophers: Excerpts from or about the Pre-Socratic philosophers. The first few philosophers are fairly easy to get a handle on, but don't worry if you do not fully understand the writings of Herakleitos and Parmenides: nobody does. The following questions should help you. Enjoy!

As you read the excerpts from the pre-Socratic philosophers, consider the following questions:

  1. What seems to be the main interest of the group as a whole: the nature of the universe (cosmology) or of reality (ontology), or the nature of man (anthropology)? Ask yourself this of each philosopher individually, also.
  2. How do the thoughts of the philosophers contrast to the thoughts of the epic poets (Homer and Hesiod) and lyric poets that we read?
  3. What evidence, if any, does philosophic thought give us of the continuing emergence of individualism—the exploration and deepening understanding of the nature of man? This was one of the main themes in our discussion of the lyric poets.
  4. If both the lyric poems and the sayings of the philosophers reflect a parallel development in the understanding of the world and of man, and also in the appropriate method of understanding the world and man, how do the two types of literature—poetry and philosophy—differ from one another? What are the philosophers doing differently from the poets?
  5. Are the philosophers atheists? Do they reject the real existence of the gods? of the sacred?
These questions will be the basis of our discussion. We will read a tragedy, probably the Eumenides by Aeschylus, for Friday.

Assignments for the Week of January 28th:

For Friday, January 31st, there is a reading and writing assignment. The reading assignment is some fragments of Greek lyric (written to be sung, accompanied by a string instrument, the lyre) poetry.

Greek lyric poetry, written in the seventh, sixth, and fifth centuries B.C. (the Iliad and Odyssey are usually dated in the eighth century), marks a step between the epic poetry of Homer and Hesiod and the later fragments of the Pre-Socratic philosophers (the sixth and fifth centuries). Instead of reading all the poems, simply find answers in three or four of them to the following questions in the poetry and then write a one page answer to one of the following questions. (Since the questions are based on the excerpt from Bruno Snell, you ought to review Snell's explanation of how the Greeks discovered the mind or soul or self.)

  1. Can you point to any evidence in any of the poems that shows that the poet thinks of himself differently from the way Homer or Hesiod thought of themselves?
  2. Can you find passages in the lyric poems that reflect people thinking for themselves or having feelings and emotions that begin within themselves rather than being placed within them by the gods?
  3. Do the lyric poems reflect the same attitude toward the world as Homer's Iliad, Hesiod's Theogony, or neither of the two? Why?
  4. Is there anything different about the lyric poets' attitude toward the gods or themselves when compared to Homer's and Hesiod's? What? If not, how are all three sets of poems the same?

1. Bring a hard copy of the paper to hand in at class on Friday.

2. One page only; double-spaced, one-inch margins, 11 or 12 point font, black type.

3. At least two paragraphs (always organize your writing into paragraphs) and about 200 to 250 words total.

4. Clearly indicate and cite the passages you discuss in your text. For example, you may want to say, "Anacreon, in Fragment 417, likens a young girl to a filly." This lets me know exactly what you are referring to.

If your paper indicates that you have read at least three of the poets (you should really read all of them), and if you follow the directins above, you will pass the assignment. Higher grades depend upon the content and the writing level. Careful writing always is figured into your paper grades.

For Tuesday, please read (1) Book One ("The Quarrel by the Ships") of Homer's Iliad, (2) the first 200 lines or so of Hesiod's Theogony (lines are marked "ll." in parentheses on the left), and (3) the first few pages of the excerpt from Bruno Snell's Discovery of the Mind, upon which I base the first third of the course.

I am sure that the Iliad is familiar to most of you; perhaps the Theogony is not. As you read the assigned excerpts from both of these poems, try to relate them to the ideas in the excerpts from the Frankforts and Snell. How do the poems reflect the Frankforts' idea that ancient man explained things by telling stories, not by critical analysis?

Snell says that "the intellect [mind or soul] was not discovered, and did not come into being, until after the time of Homer, [but] we realize that Homer conceived of the thing which we call intellect in a different manner, and that in a sense the intellect existed also for him, though not qua [as] intellect." In other words, Homer knew that people could think—people had ideas, feeling, thoughts—but he did not describe the process of thinking that is familiar to all of us in the same way that we would describe it today. What examples can you find of people such as Achilles or Agamemnon thinking or feeling but that describe those moments in ways different from the way we would describe them today? Why does Agamemnon get mad? What is the source of his and Achilles's ideas?

The Iliad and the Odyssey were two of the poems about the Trojan war that were part of the Epic Cycle. Except for the Iliad and the Odyssey, the other poems of the Epic Cycle have been lost, although (1) fragments of each of them and (2) references to, and quotations from, them in the writings of other authors remain and give us a good iead of the contents of each. (The famous story of the Trojan horse, for instance, is not found in theIliad or the Odyssey: it is found in the so-called Sack of Ilion.)

The poet Hesiod lived and wrote a few decades after Homer wrote the Iliad. What is the subject of his poem, the Theogony? What is Hesiod explaining? What kind of an explanation is he giving? Does his explanation make sense (even if you do not accept it)? Is it rational? logical? mytho-poeic? Does it reflect an advance from Homer's view of the world?

What is the significance of the opening lines of each assigned poem? How do they reflect Snell's idea that the intellect had not yet been discovered in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C.?

Hesiod's Theogony. (This translation of the poem is in prose with the line numbers of the original poem version in parentheses at the beginning of each paragraph.) You do not have to read the whole poem, but you should be familiar with the content in lines 1-225, 453-491, and 543-744, and should skim the rest of the poem. It is fun to read.

In Hesiod's poem, what does "theogony" mean? Where did the Greek gods literally come from? What is Hesiod trying to do here? What existed at the beginning of time? Generally, what happened thereafter, according to Hesiod? What stages in the history of the gods are described in the assigned readings?

Does Hesiod's poem about the origins of the gods remind you of either the article by the Frankforts or the article by Snell? What kind of information is Hesiod conveying to his readers? With the Frankforts' article in mind, would you call Hesiod's attitude "scientific" or "mythopoeic" or "mid-way between the two"? Why?

  1. From his poems, what do you think is the occupation of Archilochus of Paros? What is his attitude toward life?
  2. What is the main theme of all the poems by Sappho?
  3. Who or what is Anacreon's "Thracian filly"?
  4. At what milestone event of a man's life would the poem by Theognis of Megara be appropriate?
  5. What does Pindar's poem congratulate Heiron for? What did Heiron do?
  6. Can you point to any evidence in any of the poems that shows that the poet thinks of himself differently from the way Homer or Hesiod thought of themselves?
  7. Can you find passages in the Odyssey that reflect the idea that the gods put thoughts and feelings in the minds and hearts of men?
  8. Can you find passages in the lyric poems that reflect people thinking for themselves or having feelings and emotions that begin within themselves rather than being placed within them by the gods?

Finally, do the lyric poems of Archilochus and Alcman reflect the same attitude toward the world as Homer's Odyssey, Hesiod's Theogony, or neither of the two? Why? Is there anything different about the lyric poets' attitude toward the gods or themselves when compared to Homer's and Hesiod's? What? If not, how are all three sets of poems the same?

Assignments for the Week of January 21st:

For Tuesday, please read the essay on "Myth and Reality" that I handed out on the first day of class. Extra copies are in the rack on my office door (Ireton 107). Since we have been snowed in (snowed out?) on Tuesday, let me give you the assignment for Friday as well. A cancelled class is seldom made up in the schedule, so we will have to double up the assignments over the next week or so. I am using a new translation of the Iliad. My favorite translations are those by Fagles and Lattimore, but they are unavailable on the internet. Use 'em if you got 'em!

"Myth and Realty" by Henri and H.A. Frankfort describes some of the ways people thought about the world before the advent of the speculative, philosophic and scientific thought that we take for granted today. They also describe some of the fundamental ways in which primitive or ancient men understood the world. According to the Frankforts,

  1. how did primitive people view and understand the world in which they lived?
  2. how did they explain things that happened in nature—natural "phenomena"?
  3. according to the Frankforts, were the explanations of primitive people the results of their limited vocabulary and language skills—that is, primitives simply did not have the vocabulary to put into words what they really thought?
  4. or did they actually understand the world in terms of their mythological, poetic explanations?
  5. according to the Frankforts, what is "myth"? what is "reality"?
There were good questions and some good discussion in class today. Keep it up.

Note: the first Rhett Leveret memorial lecture will be presented by historian Caroline Davies on the very subject of our course: the Birth of Europe. Please set aside Wednesday, February 19th, to attend the lecture.

For the Class of Friday, January 17:

Everyone I heard from has a copy of the text, so the assignment for Friday is chapter 3 of Dawson's Formation of Christendom. If you do not have the text, email me ASAP.

As you read chapter 3, consider the following questions, presented in the order they appear in the chapter:

  1. According to Dawson, what is culture?
  2. What is the difference between culture and civilization?
  3. What makes human culture possible?
  4. How are human cultures different from animal societies?
  5. Explain why Dawson says that language is more important than race as a cultural or social factor.
  6. According to Dawson, cultures require four factors in order to exist. What are they? Explain them.
  7. What important distinctions does Dawson draw between primitive and advanced cultures?

Most of these questions focus on discussions that occur over several pages, so there is no simple or one sentence answer to each question. They are questions that ask you to consider different sides of a very complex subject—human culture. Some understanding of what culture and civilization are will help us in the semester-long study of the origins and nature of early Western culture.

From previous semesters:

For the Final Exam:

The final exam will consist of three essay questions: two on the material that we have covered since the second mid-term and one on the whole semester. The two questions on the last third of the semester will include identifications—author ("Unknown" if authorship is unknown to scholars), title, and some other characteristic of the writing that the exam asks for.

The readings for this last third of the semester were Dawson, chapters 10 to 14 and part of 15, and the following primary readings:

  1. Monastic Rules of Benedict and Columba
  2. Historical excerpts from Gregory of Tours and the Venerable Bede
  3. Representative penitentials and capitularies
  4. Alfred's Preface and Pope Urban II's speech
  5. Renaissance materials by Bruni, Machiavelli, and Pico
  6. Reformation materials by Luther, Calvin, and Muntzer

The question on the entire semester will not contain identifications, but will expect you to use material from the entire course to back up your essay (remember the Bible and the Greeks?). The question will ask you to reflect on the main subject of the course: the development of Christendom out of the forces, people, documents, and other works that we have studied this whole semester. What was Christendom or Western Civilization? What were the main historical forces that made it possible and the main cultural components that provided its unique character? Pay particular attention to the theme of "inter-penetration" or mutual influence of conflicting forces that Dawson mentions throughout his book: e.g., Christians converted barbarians, but in the process Christians were influenced by barbarian practices. The first few pages of Dawson, chapter 15 are a good place to start formulating an answer.

For the Week of April 29th:

We will take a too-brief look at the Reformation and Renaissance this week, as well as tie up a few loose ends.

For Tuesday, please read pages 226 to 235 of Dawson (partly a loose end), and the following brief excerpts from Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses, John Calvin's "Letter to the King", and Thomas Muntzer's "Sermon to the Princes". The latter two excerpts are brief; you need not read all of Luther's ninety-five thesis (statements or sentences), but review enough of them to figure out who Luther's target was, what Luther was complaining about, and what he thought should be done about it. In reading Muntzer's sermon, try to determine how is message differes from Luther's and Calvin's. What does Muntzer advocate? If you are unfamiliar with the Reformation in general, this brief summary may be helpful.

On Friday, we will review the basics of the great Renaissance that often is linked to the Reformation as marking the end of the High Middle Ages. We will look at a film on Renaissance art and at a few excerpts reflecting the different directions of thought during this time by Bruni, Machiavelli, and Pico della Mirandola.

Please read chapter 12 of the Dawson text, "The Carolingian Age."

I have made the assignment for Tuesday very short to give you an opportunity to review the material we just went over in chapters 10 and 11.

After grading the exams, I came to the conclusion that you would continue to find study questions on the Dawson text useful. I had dispensed with them last week, but I have posted them here for you to use in reviewing those two chapters. We will discuss all three chapters on Tuesday.

Here is the form for the timeline that I promised you, and the chapter 12 satudy questions are posted below:

For the Week of April 8th:

For the Exam on Friday, April 5th:

In addition, the questions I posted for some of the readings, particularly the historians, are a good guide to follow.

There will be one question, possibly with quotes to be identified, on the Greek and Roman historians. (Review those study questions.) There will be one question, possibly with quotes to be identified, on the religions and the religious philosophies represented in the "Documents of the Roman Hellenistic Era" excerpts. (Dawson, chapter 7, is relevant to this second question.) There will be two questions on the Judeo-Christian biblical material from the Old and New Testament and from Dawson chapters 5 and 6, but there will be no quotes to identify taken from this material. In these two questions, I will ask you about general themes either that we have been following in this course or that Irwin or Dawson explained. It will be up to you to answer the question and then to cite material from the biblical sources to support your answer. Remember, the passages from the Old and New Testaments was selected to reflect the materials discussed by Irwin and Dawson in their writings. So: no surprises. Your study of the materials and familiarity with them will be rewarded. Hope this helps.

For the Class of March 26th:

(I posted the following links in case you want to read further, fuller accounts of these writings, but all you will be responsible for in class is the material in the "Documents of the Roman Hellenistic Era" link in the preceding paragraph.)

History of Cement and Concrete: A Classic Thriller!. Consider this with the Michael Wood video on Roman art and architecture.

For the Week of March 18th:

For Friday please read chapter 7 in Dawson, "Christianity and the Greek World." A few study questions:

  1. What are the two "Hellenisms" that Dawson describes?
  2. What were the oriental religions and influences that made their appearance in the Roman world of the second century?
  3. What, according to Dawson, did they all have in common?
  4. Who were the early fathers of the Christian religion?
  5. What were the Christian responses to classical Greek culture and philosophy?
  6. Why, according to Dawson, could the Romans not dismiss Christianity as just another oriental sect?

We will take a bit of a diversion for Tuesday and look at excerpts from some of the early Greek and Roman historians—Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius, Livy, Tacitus. This is a pretty lengthy assignment, so leave yourself enough time to complete it.

Each of these excerpts contains a statement by the author of his approach to writing history, usually a few paragraphs at the beginning of the linked excerpt. I want you to read a bit more by Herodotus and Thucydides to get a taste of what kind of historical materials made up their works.

As you read the excerpts from the historians consider the following questions:

  1. What does each historian say his purpose is in writing his book?
  2. What is the subject matter of his work? What is the scope—geographic, chronological, or some other range—of his work?
  3. What sources does he use to compile his work? What is his apparent attitude toward his sources? How critical is he of the value of his sources?
  4. What is his method of writing? Is his work a collection of stories? a long narrative? a philosophic discourse?
  5. Use these questions to determine whether the five writers should be lumped together or whether some or all of them are distinctively different.

For the Week of March 11:

For Friday, please read the following linked passages from the New Testament. There are any number of websites with copies of all of the books of the Bible. The "New Advent" and the "Christian Classics Ethereal Library" that are linked on my main web site under "Useful Links" are two good sources. If you are not familiar with biblical notation, almost all of the books of the Bible are broken down into chapters, and all of the books are broken down further into verses. Notation refers to the abbreviated name of the book, the chapter number, and, after a colon, the verse number(s). Thus Matthew, chapter 5, verses 17 to 19, is noted as Mt. 5:17-19.

Please read the following: These passages will provide a number of basic Christian ideas that were referred to by Dawson and that carry forward into the development of the Western tradition. Try to look up a few of the alternative passages as well as the ones directly linked here. The whole assignment amounts to about ten pages.

On Christ as fulfillment of Jewish prophesy: Matthew 5:17-19 (see also Mark (Mk) 1:1-11, and Luke (Lk) 4:14-21; 18:31-34; 24:25-27, 44).

Matthew and Luke also provided genealogies (family histories) of Jesus to show his Jewish and ultimately divine, ancestry: Mt. 1:1-11 (Jesus back to David). See also Lk. 3:21-37 (Jesus back to Adam and to God).

The New Covenant or New Testament is described in accounts of the Last Supper: Mk. 14:12-31 (see also Mt. 26:26-29; Lk. 22:17-23).

Jesus's description of the end of the world ("eschatology") can be found in parallel passages from the first three gospels: Mk. 13:1-31 (see also Matthew 24 and Luke 21: 5-33). The book of Revelation or the Book of the Apocalypse contains this famous eschatalogical passage: Rev. 20: 1-10.

The community of Christ's apostles and disciples after his resurrection is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles. One influential passage describes the "apostolic communism: Acts chapters 3 & 4.

The gospel of John reflects the early influence of Greek or Hellenic thought on the understanding of Christ: John 1

Please read Dawson, chapter 6. We will resume the weekly quizzes on the readings after Break.

Some study questions for chapter 6, "The Coming of the Kingdom." These questions are not paragraph-specific questions but rather questions that ask you to consider the different subjects that Dawson discusses as he progresses through the chapter.

  1. How did the Jews and the Christians differently understand the "new kingdom" and the "new covenant," as prophesied?
  2. What were the major divisions of Judaism around the time of the birth of Christ?
  3. What happened to these different divisions?
  4. What were the major divisions (churches) of Christianity in the first century A.D.?
  5. As Christianity developed in the first century, how did its relationship to the Jews change?
  6. How did the Christians look on their place in the Roman Empire during this period?
  7. According to Dawson, what is the significance of the Epistle to the Hebrews?
  8. [Dawson turns to the problem of organizing or institutionalizing Christians into a church.] What, according to Dawson, is the significance of the letter of the fourth pope, St. Clement, at the end of the first century A.D.?
  9. According to Dawson, what were the main responses of the Christians to the persecutions by Roman officials in the first centuries A.D.?
  10. According to Dawson, did a Christian culture exist by the end of the first century?

For the Week of February 25th:

For Friday, please read chapter 5 of Christopher Dawson's The Formation of Christendom. Some study questions to work you through chapter five:

  1. What is the relation of divine revelation to the worlds great religions?
  2. According to Dawson, Israel was unique amongancient world cultures in at least three ways: (1) How was Israel's response to divine revelation unique?
  3. (2) How was Israel's socio-political attitude different?
  4. (3) How was Israel's status as a civilization unique?
  5. What, according to Dawson, is the cause of this uniqueness?
  6. What is the historical source of the Hebrew religion?
  7. What is the historical source of the Israelite people or Israelite nation?
  8. What are the three fundamental teachings of the priests and the prophets?
  9. According to Dawson, what is the key to Judeo-Christian revelation?
  10. What was the principal challenge to Israelite culture after the Israelites settled in Palestine?
  11. What was the job of the prophets?
  12. How did Israel's historical perspective change as a result of the Prophets' teaching?
  13. What effect on this perpsective did the Exile or Babylonian Captivity have?
  14. What did post-Exilic Israel put its hope in?
  15. What Jewish sects existed at the time of the coming of Christ?
  16. What is the Old Covenant? the New Covenant?
  17. What is uniquwe about the Judeo-Christian religion among the world's great religions?
  18. What is the Old Testament important for understanding the New?
  19. What is the significant about "the Law and the Prophets"?
  20. What are four fundamental themes common to Judaism and Christianity?

Some of the questions have simple, straight-forward answers; others call for some pondering on the reading. Each of the questions proceeds a bit later in the chapter from the previous question.

For Tuesday, please read the excerpt from William Irwin's chapter, "God," that I handed out in class and these excerpts from the Old Testament prophets.

For Friday, February 22

For Friday, we will read some passages from the Old Testament. Follow the study questions at the end of the excerpts.

For the Week of February 11th:

On Friday we will (1) study an excerpt from Aristotle's Physics, Book Two, only parts 3, 7, & 8, on the "four causes"—what they are and whether they apply to nature as well as to man-made products and activities—and (2) watch the video on Classical Greek art. The mid-term is on Tuesday the 19th. You can preview the video (and watch other ones for the course) by clicking on the links at the very bottom of this webpage. We will be viewing the first one in Michael Wood's "Art of the Western World" series.

The exam questions will focus exclusively on the themes that we have been following all semester. I have listed them again in the next paragraph. The material that you must consider in your essays is the following:

  1. the excerpts from articles by the Frankforts and Mircea Eliade;
  2. the epic poetry excerpts from Homer and Hesiod;
  3. the lyric poems and fragments;
  4. the pre-Socratic philosophic fragments;
  5. the tragic poem-drama Eumenides by Aeschylus;
  6. the excerpt from the article on the Sophists;
  7. the readings from Plato's Meno and Republic;
  8. the excerpt from Aristotle's Physics on the four causes;
  9. the Michael Wood film on Classical Greek art (just what we view in class: not the last half of the video on Roman art).

Please remember: as we study Greek and (later) Old Testament literature and culture, we are looking for evidence of the Greeks' increasing focus upon the individual, his powers and his place in the world. This is reflected in the following themes:

  1. the discovery over several centuries of the human soul and mind
  2. the development of "philosophy" or non-mythopoeic thinking to understand the world
  3. the development of different understandings of justice
  4. man's evolving understanding of the nature of God (or the gods), and
  5. man's evolving understanding of our proper relationship to God (or the gods).

For Tuesday, please the following excerpts from Plato's dialogue Meno and Plato's grand work the Republic. The usual way of citing Plato is to the little numbers in brackets throughout these excerpts, which are called Stephanus Numbers.

In reading all of the assignments, keep looking for examples to support these major themes: the increasing realization of the powers of the human mind and the existence of the human soul, the increasingly "rational" or non-mythical discussion of the gods and the world, the discussion of different ideas of justice—especially in The Eumenides—man's evolving understanding of the gods or the divine and of our relationship to the gods. These themes are the focus of the first part of the course and will be the focus of the essay questions on the first exam and also much of the second exam.

For Friday, February 8th:

Please read the excerpt from The Sophists that I handed out. Extra copies are in the rack on my office door. There will be a quiz on the material in the handout at the beginning of class.

To get ready for the mid-term on Tuesday, February 19th, there will be an identifications quiz on Tuesday. I will explain more about it in class of Friday.

For Tuesday, February 5th:

For Friday, February 1st:

For Tuesday, January 29th (Remember—no class on Friday, January 25th!):

We will look at two types of poetry that provide some evidence of the progress of human thought in ancient Greece—the poet Hesiod's Theogony and a few lyric poems by various poets. The questions below are the basis of the class discussion, so come prepared to answer them. (Write something down!)

For Tuesday, January 22d (there will be no class on Friday, January 25th):

Please read Book One of Homer's Odyssey. You may use any translation. I think the ones by Richmond Lattimore and Robert Fagles are the best, but the only two available on the internet are the old translation by Samuel Butler and the A.T. Murray translation available from the Tufts University Perseus website. (I suggest the Murray translation if you do not have a hard copy of another translation. Move forward and back in the Murray translation by using the little blue arrows in the upper left-hand corner of the text.)

Butler calls the Greek gods by their Roman/Latin names. Thus, the Greek goddess Athene is called Minerva, Zeus is Jove, Poseidon is Neptune; the human hero of the poem, Odysseus, after whom the poem is named, is Ulysses, and so on (click here for a useful guide to the dual names).

The Iliad and the Odyssey were two of the poems about the Trojan war that were part of the Epic Cycle. Except for the Iliad and the Odyssey, the other poems of the Epic Cycle have been lost, although (1) fragments of each of them and (2) references to, and quotations from, them in the writings of other authors remain and give us a good iead of the contents of each. (The famous story of the Trojan horse, for instance, is not found in the Iliad or the Odyssey: it is found in the so-called Sack of Ilion.)

If this material is totally new to you, you might also want to watch the Eugen Weber videos on "The Western Tradition" linked at the bottom of this web page. Videos 1-4 discuss various aspects of the "mythopoeic" primitive peoples, to use the Frankforts' term. Video #5 provides a good intro to classical Greek culture. Check them out.

For Friday, January 18th:

Please read the handout with excerpts by Henri and H.A. Frankfort and by Mircea Eliade on primitive thought. Extra copies are in the rack on my office door (Ireton, G-107). Use the study questions below to work your way through the articles.

Frankforts and Eliade

The Warehouse

Caliphate of Cordoba: al-Andalus and Christian kingdoms circa A.D. 1000

The material below is from past semesters and may not be applicable to the Spring 2014 course.

The questions will focus exclusively on the themes that we have been following all semester. I have listed them again in the next paragraph. The material that you must consider in your essays is the following:

  1. the excerpts from article by the Frankforts and chapter 3 by Dawson;
  2. the epic poetry excerpts from Homer (Iliad) and Hesiod (Theogony);
  3. the lyric poems and fragments;
  4. the pre-Socratic philosophic fragments;
  5. the tragic poem-drama Eumenides by Aeschylus;
  6. the excerpt from the article on the Sophists;
  7. the readings from Plato's Crito and Republic;
  8. the Michael Wood film on Classical Greek art (just what we view in class: not the last half of the video on Roman art).

This list should mirror exactly the assignments for the semester so far. With some chronological overlaps, this list also represents the time sequence of the Greek writers that we have studied; so if the question calls for tracing the development of philosophic thought or ideas of justice, for example, you would do well to present your surveys in this order. Not every reading deals directly with every theme; you do not have to refer to every single one of the sources above in each essay, of course. Select those sources that best exemplify the theme that you are discussing. For example, the lyric poems, the Eumenides, and the Wood video do not reflect much about the development of philosophic thought; you should base an essay on the development of philosophic thought on other, more relevant sources in the list above.

For identification purposes, you should be able to identify by author and title the longer works that we read—Homer's, Aeschylus's, Plato's, and Aristotle's. Simply identify lyric poetry as authored by "lyric poet" and as title "poem." Identify the philosophic fragments as authored by "pre-Socratic philosopher" and as titled "fragment." Don't worry about the names of individual lyric poets and philosophers. You should also take a look at the first thirty or forty lines of Hesiod's Theogony, which I discussed with you briefly in class and which you may find useful in your essays. It will not be one of the passages to identify.

Dawson, Formation of Christendom.

A few study questions for chapter 12, "The Carolingian Age":

  1. According to Dawson, what forces cooperated to establish the beginnings of the new Western civilization called Christendom? (189-91)
  2. What is the function and duty of the new Christian kingship or Imperium Christianum? (192, 195)
  3. Briefly describe the territory and democgraphics of the Carolingian Empire. (193-194)
  4. How was the Carolingian Empire administered and governed? What administrative institution was established? (194)
  5. What provided the unity of the imperial culture? (194-95)
  6. If "renaissance" means rebirth and, particularly, rebirth or renewed interest in classical learning, why do we sometimes refer to a Carolingian Renaissance? (195-97)
  7. According to Dawson, why did the Carolingian Empire fail? (197-98)
  8. What happened about 1000 A.D. to enable Western Christian culture to regain its Carolingian predominance throughout much of Europe? (199-200)
  9. Why did the monastery movement survive the post-Carolingian period? (200-201)

Chapter 10 (or "X" for you Latin-types) serves as both a description of the cultural situation—political, social, religious, artistic—in the early Dark Ages (5th to 7th centuries) as well as an introduction to the basic argument that Dawson will make in the following chapters. Remember: history is not simply a chronological list ing of events but an argument a reasoned, informed response to a subtle, complex question about events. Dawson's book, like all good histories, is such a response.

In the first excerpts, what is the difference between Clement's and Tertullian's opinions of classical Greek learning? Who are the citizens of Augustine's Heavenly City or City of God? Who are the citizens of the Earthly City or City of Man? What is the significance, do you think, of Gregory's story of the conversion of Clovis?

As Dawson and other European historians emphasize, the monastic movement—the development of monasteries throughout Europe in the centuries following the fall of the Western Roman Empire—was immensely important in the development of the single Western or European culture once called "Christendom." From the Benedictine and Columban monstic rules in the second excerpt, try to determine what differences exist in the monastic rules of Benedict and Columba and how they reflect Dawson's description of the differences in the monasticism of the Irish and the Latin churches. According to Dawson, how many different approaches to monasticism were there? Three? Four? Five?

A few study questions to get you through Chapters 10 & 11 of Dawson:

  1. According to Dawson, why did the Byzantine Christian state fail? Why did the Western Roman state fail (short answer)? What was different about these two collapses? What was left? (Pages 164-66)
  2. What led to the collapse of the Western Roman State (long answer)? How did the Roman ruling families adapt to the change? What melding eventually took place? (166-70)
  3. According to Dawson, what was the principal task of the Christians during the Dark Ages following the fall of the Western Roman empire? What was the principal obstacle to their task? What result?(170-72)
  4. Keeping in mind the introduction to monasticism in chapter 8 (pp. 142-145), what role did monasticism play in Gaul following the Roman collapse? in Britain? in Ireland? (175-78)
  5. What two major monastic movements arose out of the post-collapse period? (178-81)
  6. According to Dawson, why has the significance of the so-called "dark ages" been under-appreciated for so long? (181-84)
  7. According to Dawson, what three elements combined to establish the foundation of Western Christian culture in the middle ages? (186))
  8. Why, according to Dawson, was monasticism such a powerful, "practically indestructible" force in the creation of a new civilization out of the ashes of the old? (186-88)

One theme that was emphasized repeatedly throughout the semester was that historical development often occurs through conflicts between peoples, cultures, and religions and, as Dawson said so many times, these conflicts mutually affect the conflicting forces: for example, barbarians may be militarily victorious but the religion or the culture of the conquered party may prove to be more enduring than the religion or culture of the victors. Christians may have faced Greek critics, but both Christians and Greeks were influenced by each other as a result of the conflict. Look for thse conflicts throughout the Dawson text, but also look for them in the Classical and Judeo-Christian material with which we began the course. It is a major theme of the course.

A few study questions for chapter 7 in Dawson, "Christianity and the Greek World":

  1. What are the two "Hellenisms" that Dawson describes?
  2. What were the oriental religions and influences that made their appearance in the Roman world of the second century?
  3. What, according to Dawson, did they all have in common?
  4. Who were the early fathers of the Christian religion?
  5. What were the Christian responses to classical Greek culture and philosophy?
  6. Why, according to Dawson, could the Romans not dismiss Christianity as just another oriental sect?

Some study questions for chapter 6, "The Coming of the Kingdom." These questions are not paragraph-specific questions but rather questions that ask you to consider the different subjects that Dawson discusses as he progresses through the chapter.

  1. How did the Jews and the Christians differently understand the "new kingdom" and the "new covenant," as prophesied?
  2. What were the major divisions of Judaism around the time of the birth of Christ?
  3. What happened to these different divisions?
  4. What were the major divisions (churches) of Christianity in the first century A.D.?
  5. As Christianity developed in the first century, how did its relationship to the Jews change?
  6. How did the Christians look on their place in the Roman Empire during this period?
  7. According to Dawson, what is the significance of the Epistle to the Hebrews?
  8. [Dawson turns to the problem of organizing or institutionalizing Christians into a church.] What, according to Dawson, is the significance of the letter of the fourth pope, St. Clement, at the end of the first century A.D.?
  9. According to Dawson, what were the main responses of the Christians to the persecutions by Roman officials in the first centuries A.D.?
  10. According to Dawson, did a Christian culture exist by the end of the first century?

. Some study questions to work you through Chapter 5 of Christopher Dawson's The Formation of Christendom, "The Christian and Jewish Idea of Revelation":

  1. What is the relation of divine revelation to the worlds great religions?
  2. According to Dawson, Israel was unique amongancient world cultures in at least three ways: (1) How was Israel's response to divine revelation unique?
  3. (2) How was Israel's socio-political attitude different?
  4. (3) How was Israel's status as a civilization unique?
  5. What, according to Dawson, is the cause of this uniqueness?
  6. What is the historical source of the Hebrew religion?
  7. What is the historical source of the Israelite people or Israelite nation?
  8. What are the three fundamental teachings of the priests and the prophets?
  9. According to Dawson, what is the key to Judeo-Christian revelation?
  10. What was the principal challenge to Israelite culture after the Israelites settled in Palestine?
  11. What was the job of the prophets?
  12. How did Israel's historical perspective change as a result of the Prophets' teaching?
  13. What effect on this perpsective did the Exile or Babylonian Captivity have?
  14. What did post-Exilic Israel put its hope in?
  15. What Jewish sects existed at the time of the comong of Christ?
  16. What is the Old Covenant? the New Covenant?
  17. What is uniquwe about the Judeo-Christian religion among the world's great religions?
  18. What is the Old Testament important for understanding the New?
  19. What is the significant about "the Law and the Prophets"?
  20. What are four fundamental themes common to Judaism and Christianity?

Some of the questions have simple, straight-forward answers; others call for some pondering on the reading. Each of the questions proceeds a bit later in the chapter from the previous question.

Dawson, Religion and the Rise of Western Culture

A few study questions to get you through Chapter 4 of Dawson, Religion and the Rise of Western Culture:

  1. Why (how) were Christians generally able to cope with being inhabitants of kingdoms and empires ruled by non-Christians? (Pages 67-68)
  2. What were the two aspects of the "new barbarian kingdoms" that flourished during and after the decline and fall of the Roman Empire? When was Theodoric king? King Athaulf? What happened to these barbarian kingdoms?(68-70)
  3. What was distinctive and different about the northern barbarian kingdoms that Dawson describes?(70-72)
  4. How were the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England different from both afore-mentioned sets of kingdoms? How did they reconcile themselves with the Church? According to Dawson, what was the net effect of this form of reconciliation?(72-74)
  5. What was the importance of the Merovingian Franks during the period from the late 5th to the 8th centuries? Why was it important? Was the Frankish kingdom a strong kingdom that provided law and order to its people? (74-76)
  6. What was the significance of the coronation of Pepin, King of the Franks? Why do you think Dawson calls this the beginning of the "new monarchy"? What's another name for the new monarchy? (76-77)
  7. What is the significance of St. Boniface and St. Alcuin to the beginnings of the new kingdoms and to the Carolingian kingdom in particular? (77-78)
  8. What was the relation between the Carolingian Frankish Empire and the Catholic Church? Why, according to Dawson, was this period of European history unique? (79-83)

Chronology Assignment

The timeline and chronology assignment. I even gave you a freebie to show you how to fill it out.

The main assignment for Tuesday is preparing the basic chronology that I discussed with you in class.

To repeat the main points:

  1. For each century listed in the left-hand column on the sheet, select three important individuals or documents or events that were significant to that century.
  2. One of the three for each century must be an individual whose principal efforts or activities took place in that century.
  3. One must be a literary creation—poem, document, religious statement—oral or written that is attributed to that century.
  4. The third may be an individual, document, or event of your choosing. Thus for any particular century, you may list an event, individual, and document; or you may list two individuals and a document, or two documents and an individual. Individuals and documents take priority over events, but you certainly may list one event per century.
  5. For each individual, document, and event that you list, indicate in a phrase or two its significant contribution to the development of Western culture according to Dawson.
  6. The only resource you should use is the Dawson text—not another book or Wikipedia or another website: just Dawson. In the column on the right hand side, list the page number(s) in the Dawson book from which you got your information.
  7. A hard copy (not an emailed copy!!) of the completed chart must be handed in during class on Tuesday to get credit. I suggest that you print the chart and write in the entries in blue or black ink. You can try to cut and paste the chart to Microsoft Word and type in your entries. This would be great if you can do it, but it also requires cooperative technology, and technology never seems to cooperate. Do the best you can. Download a couple of copies and use one or two as preliminary lists or drafts.
  8. The assignment will count as a double quiz worth potentially 20 points (but not more than 20 points): one point each for a correct entry. By "correct entry" I mean one that includes (1) an individual, document, or event from the century, (2) a brief indication of its significance, and (3) page number(s) from the Dawson text. There is space for 27 entries, so if you screw a few up you can still get 20 points.
  9. The purpose of the assignment is to give you a chance to get a handle on the time period and the huge amount of material that we have been studying for the past three weeks and to get an understanding of "what happened when." It is a good review of the material.

Reformation Documents

If you don't know much about the Reformation at all, this very brief summary, called Reformation 101, which I took from About.com, provides a basic outline. Take a look at it.

Luther's Ninety-Five Theses

Calvin's "Letter to the King"

Thomas Muntzer's "Sermon to the Princes"

Late Middle Ages and Renaissance Documents

John of Salisbury, Machiavelli, Dante, Petrarch.

Machiavelli, The Prince, chapters XV, XVII, and XXV

Pico della Mirandola, Oration on the Dignity of Man

Leonardo Bruni, Letter Addressed to [an] Illustrious Lady, pp. 119-124, 127-128.

Canto One of the Inferno.

Moses Maimonides's Guide for the Perplexed, which shows the Jewish philosopher attempting to reconcile scripture with Aristotle.

Paul Halsall, "Islamic Political Philosophy: Al-Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes."

excerpts from medieval Muslim thinkers. The excerpts from Avicenna and Averroes reflect the influence of Greek or Classical philosophy on Muslim thinkers during this period of time.

Pope Urban II's 1095 Speech at Clermont

St. Thomas, Q91 Art. 1.

The excerpt from St. Thomas's Summa Theologica illustrates the scholastic method of philosophic exposition or demonstration.

The scholastic format of the Summa or Summary of Theology (or, from St. Thomas's view, "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Theology but were Afraid to Ask") of St. Thomas takes some getting used to. He divides the treatise up into numbered Questions. Each numbered question is then divided up into Articles. Each Article is divided into a series of Objections, which turn out to be criticisms of the point that Aquinas ultimately wishes to make, followed by a section headed "On the contrary," which marks the beginning of the argument for St. Thomas's position. Then follows the "I answer that" section, which is the key to St. Thomas's argument, and a series of replies to the initial objections. Focus first on the "I answer that" paragraphs and then look at the Objections and Thomas's Replies.

Walter Farrell, O.P., A Companion to the Summa, Volume III, Chapter XV--Greatness of Soul (Magnanimity) (QQ. 128-149).

Alfarabi (c.878-950)

Alfarabi, Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle (trans. Muhsin Mahdi).

Avicenna (c. 980-1037)

Avicenna, Excerpt from On Medicine

Averroes (1126-1198)

Averroes, On the Harmony of Religions and Philosophy

King Alfred's "Preface" to St. Gregory's Pastoral Care, (English translation from Bucknell University). See also the originals at Bucknell.

Charlemagne's Capitulary for Saxony

Carolingian Capitularies on Serfs & Coloni, 803-821

Description of medieval penitentials (know what a "penitential" is—read this website)

The Anglo-Saxon poem ""The Battle of Maldon." The web page on which the poem appears has a lot of background material. When was it written? When did the battle take place? Who fought whom?

The Heimskringla, or Saga of the Great Norse Kings: Saga of Olaf Trygvason; Saga of Olaf Haraldson; Saga of Harald Hardrade, who might actually be familiar to you students of English history.

Bede's History (Preface and Chapter One) and Beowulf (Episodes One and Two)

Maps

General Resources

Post-Reformation Religious Division of Europe

Empire of Otto the Great, A.D. 936-973

Division of Carolingian Empire after death of Charlemagne

Carolingian Empire

Map of Merovingian-Frankish expansion (Wikipedia)

Conquests of Clovis, 481-511

Cluniac and Cistercian Monasteries

Early Celtic Monasteries in Europe

Early monasteries

Europe, A.D. 500

East and West Roman Empire

Judeo-Christian Sources

Excerpts from works by St. Augustine, John of Salisbury, and St. Thomas Aquinas.

Excerpts from early Christian writers

St. Benedict and St. Columba.

"Four Bs and a C." There are excerpts from Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, St. Benedict's and St. Columba's monastic rules, Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England, and Beowulf. All are excerpts; none is complete, but they give us some idea of the nature of the literature and the intellectual activity of the period from A.D. 500 to 1000.

Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks (Fordham, Halsall)

Four Christian Creeds

Justinian, Institutes, Book I, parts 1 & 2.

St. Augustine, City of God, Book I, chapters 1-5; Book XIV, chapter 28.

The views of Tertullian and of Clement of Alexandria on classical learning.

Tertullian, Prescription against Heresies, chapters 1, 6 to 11

Clement, The Paedegogus or Christ the Instructor, Book I, chapter 13

St. Augustine, City of God, Book VIII chapter 10, Book XXII chapters 27 and 28, and Book XIX, chapters 20 and 25. Book XIX chapter 4 is also important here: read it if you can.

A few chapters from the New Testament: There are any number of websites with copies of all of the books of the Bible. The "New Advent" and the "Christian Classics Ethereal Library" that are linked on my main webpage are two good ones. Please read the following: the gospel of Matthew, chapters 1, 5, 7, and 24; the gospel of John chapter 1; the epistle of Paul to the Romans, chapter 13; and the Book of Revelation (or the Apocalypse), chapter 20. These chapters will provide a number of basic Christian ideas that carry forward into the development of the Western tradition.

Readings from the New Testament: On Christ as fulfillment of Jewish prophesy: Matthew 5:17-19 (see also Mark (Mk) 1:1-11, and Luke (Lk) 4:14-21; 18:31-34; 24:25-27, 44).

Matthew and Luke also provided genealogies (family histories) of Jesus to show his Jewish and ultimately divine, ancestry: Mt. 1:1-11 (Jesus back to David). See also Lk. 3:21-37 (Jesus back to Adam and to God).

The New Covenant or New Testament is described in accounts of the Last Supper: Mk. 14:12-31 (see also Mt. 26:26-29; Lk. 22:17-23).

Jesus's description of the end of the world ("eschatology") can be found in parallel passages from the first three gospels: Mk. 13:1-31 (see also Matthew 24 and Luke 21: 5-33). The book of Revelation or the Book of the Apocalypse contains this famous eschatalogical passage: Rev. 20: 1-10.

The community of Christ's apostles and disciples after his resurrection is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles. One influential passage describes the "apostolic communism: Acts chapters 3 & 4.

The gospel of John reflects the early influence of Greek or Hellenic thought on the understanding of Christ: John 1

Bible passages from the Prophets selected to exemplify some of the points made by William Irwin and Christopher Dawson.

Old Testament passages.

Classic Roman Sources

You should be familiar with the main differences between Stoic, Epicurean, and Gnostic thought in Roman times—their different understandings of the supreme good, of the nature of man, and the of the nature of the universe.

Regarding the Roman material (some of which was originally in Latin and some in Greek), you should understand the differences between Stoicism (as reflected in the writings of Cicero and Seneca), Epicureanism (as reflected in Epicurus's "Principal Doctrines"), and Gnosticism (as reflected in the Bema hymn and the Apocalypse of James). These three philosophies-religions had (1) different views of the nature of the world, (2) different views of the divine (God and the gods), and (3) different views of ethics and morality, the ultimate standards of right and wrong): know them. You should be able to identify by author and title Cicero's "Dream of Scipio," Epicurus's "Principal Doctrines, and the Apocalypse of James (author: "Anonymous") and the Bema Hymn (author: "Anonymous"). Seneca's writings are hard to distinguish from Cicero's On Duties, so I will not make either one of these works the subject of identification, but these same works are your principal source of information about Stoic principles, so don't ignore them.

The second great philosophy of the Hellenistic world and Rome: Epicureanism (named for Epicurus, a Greek philosopher of the 4th century (341-270 B.C.). He was a teenager when Aristotle died (322 B.C.).) the first 61 lines of Book II of Lucretius's poem, On the Nature of the Universe, and paragraphs (¶¶) 13 to 19 of Seneca's Letter to Gallio, "On the Happy Life," which we discussed a bit on Friday. (Actually, ¶8 to ¶19 of the letter make up one long criticism of Epicureanism.) Pay particular attention to what Epicurus says about pleasure and pain in many of the sections.

Is Seneca's criticism fair? Would the Epicurean way of life, as described by Epicurus, be dramatically different from the Stoic way of life? Are their moralities—standards and rules of right and wrong conduct—much different? Where do they differ? (You know, this would make a good short essay quiz question!)

The political philosopher Leo Strauss distinguished between two types of hedonism (hedonism is the doctrine that the ultimate standards of right and wrong are pleasure and pain—one should (it is right to) pursue pleasure and avoid pain. Strauss described "vulgar hedonism" (look up "vulgar" in a good dictionary) as the doctrine that one should try to maximize the amount and intensity of pleasure in life. To do so is to live life to the fullest: carpe diem! Philosophic hedonism he described as the doctrine that the best life is the life that minimizes pain, and that this can be done best by pursuing the pleasures of the mind, not of the body. What kind of a hedonist does Epicurus appear to be? Why?

Cicero's "The Dream of Scipio" and Parts I to IV (Paragraphs {1} to {14} of his De Officiis (On Duties). What is his view of God or the gods. What determines his standards of ethics—of the ultimate standards of right and wrong? Does he agree with Plato and Aristotle on the best way of life? on man's highest calling?

Both Cicero and Seneca reflected Stoic thought in their religious, political, and moral views. What common ideas about religion, politics, and morals can you find in the assigned writings? Seneca is sometimes thought of as a "closet Christian" (he was not): what familiar religious ideas does he express? Do the writings of these Romans reflect the Greek ideas of the excellence and the freedom of the individual that we viewed in Plato, Aristotle, and Classical Greek art?

Some of you will be pleased to know that Rome is not noted for its metaphysical philosophers. Rather, the tremendous contribution that Rome made to Western civilization is reflected more in civic (political) and ethical standards and virtues. Rome and the empire also served as the arena in which different religions and philosophies competed for the allegiance of thoughtful people when the traditional polytheism of Greece and Rome began to decline. We have already seen some of the philosophic and poetic attacks on the Olympian religion of Greece; there was a similar breakdown of the traditional Roman order several centuries later. The breakdown opened the door to philosophies—we may call them "philosophies of life" or religious philosophies—such as Stoicism, Epicureanism, Gnosticism, mystery cults, and, of course, Christianity to provide people with the ultimate certainties about life and the world that all men seem to need.

We will begin this part of the course with writings from one of the great Romans—Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.), commonly known as Cicero or Tully. He was a philosopher and statesman actively involved in the political life of Rome before it became an empire headed by an Emperor, and he lost his life because of his political activities. We will then study Stoicism, the religious philosophy that dominated the politically active Romans from Cicero's time to the third century A.D. Then we will read Epicurean, Gnostic, and mystery cult materials and finally excerpts from the first great historians—the Greeks Herodotus and Thucydides, and the historians of Rome, Polybius and Livy. The order of assignments, subject to change, follows.

Please read Cicero's "The Dream of Scipio" and Parts I to IV (Paragraphs {1} to {14} of his De Officiis (On Duties).the four causes of Aristotle are usually referred to as the material cause, the formal cause, the efficient cause, and the final cause. As you read the material in the Physics, match up his discussions and definitions to these titles: what does he mean by the material cause? the formal cause? and so on. According to Aristotle, do these causes apply to natural as well as to man-made things ("artifacts")? Does every thing that exists have a purpose? Does nothing have a purpose? Do only artifacts have a purpose? Regarding the excerpt from Aristotle's Politics, what is his view of God—is he an atheist, a monotheist, a polytheist? When you read the excerpts from Cicero, consider what his view of God or the gods is. What determines his standards of ethics—of the ultimate standards of right and wrong? Does he agree with Plato on the what is the best way of life? what is man's highest calling?

Throughout this part of the course, we will compare the different principles of the Epicureans with the main ideas that we identified in the Stoic writings of Cicero and Seneca and compare the Valentinian tract to the ideas of the cosmos that we find in Epicurus, Cicero, and Seneca.

Book Two of Stoic Marcus Aurelius's Meditations

Epicureanism--Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, and alternative site De Rerum Natura

Epicurus, "Principal Doctrines"

Epictetus, The Enchiridion

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

Cicero, De Officiis, Parts I to IV (or paragraphs {1} to {14})..

Cicero, "The Dream of Scipio".

Seneca, Letter XLI to Lucilius: "The God within Us"; paragraphs 1 to 12 of the essay, "On the Happy Life."

Cicero's On Duties paragraphs (¶¶) 1-14 (little numbers on the left) only.

Seneca, The God Within Us and ¶¶ 1-8 of To Gallio: On the Happy Life

Dr. Ben Schneider on Stoic Legacy to the Renaissance

Dr. David Naugle on Christianity and Stoicism

Pliny's correspondence with Emperor Trajan on the Christians.

Dr. C. George Boeree's Philosophies and Religions of the Roman Empire.

Gnostic Materials

Two Gnostic documents: The First Apocalypse of James and the Manichaean (Gnostic) poem Bema Psalm 224. How do they picture the creation of the cosmos? How do they explain man's role in the world? What should be our goal? What ethical principles should we follow. You've got to think outside the box to figure this one out.

The Manichaean Fifth Psalm to Jesus.

In Quest of the Priceless Pearl.

The Gnostic Apocalypse of Paul.

The Gnostic tract A Valentinian Exposition (watch out for this one!)

Greek Historians

Excerpts from some of the early Greek and Roman historians—Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius, Livy, and Tacitus. This is a pretty lengthy assignment, so leave yourself enough time to complete it.

As you read the excerpts from the historians consider the following questions:

  1. What does each historian say his purpose is in writing his book?
  2. What is the subject matter of his work? What is the scope—geographic, chronological, or some other range—of his work?
  3. What sources does he use to compile his work? What is his apparent attitude toward his sources? How critical is he of the value of his sources?
  4. What is his method of writing? Is his work a collection of stories? a long narrative? a philosophic discourse?
  5. Use these questions to determine whether the five writers should be lumped together or whether some or all of them are distinctively different.

Herodotus's Histories, Book One, sections 1.0 to 1.15.

Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War, Book One, Chapter One, paragraphs 1-6, and Book Five, Chapter Seventeen, the "Melian Dialogue".

Polybius's Histories, Book One, sections 1-5 (the big red numbers).

Livy's History of Rome, Book One, section 1.preface and sections 1.1-1.5.

Each of these excerpts contains a statement by the author of his approach to writing history, usually a few paragraphs at the beginning of the linked excerpt. I want you to read a bit more by Herodotus and Thucydides to get a taste of what kind of historical materials made up their works.

Four Essays on Thucydides

The Plague of Athens

General Account, Indiana University.

An analysis of Thucydides's account, Tufts University.

Might it have been the ebola virus?

or Typhoid?

6,500 Year Old Pendant

Greek Philosophers

Regarding the Greek material, try to re-read each assigned reading now that you have an idea of how Greek thought developed. Look at the (1) different accounts of the gods' relationship to the world and to man (compare Homer's account to Aristotle's, for example), (2) different explanations of justice (compare Aeschylus's to Plato's, for example), (3) different levels of man's self-awareness (compare Homer's descriptions of human feelings and human thinking to the lyric poets', for example), and (4) different understandings of the nature of the universe (compare Homer's and Aeschylus's to the pre-Socratic philosophers'). Remember the film we viewed and its theme of the development of the Greeks' appreciation of the beauty and powers of the individual human being, an appreciation that existed nowhere else in the world at that time. The Greeks' main achievements are sometimes described as the individual's freedom and power of thought ("philosophy"). You should be able to provide evidence from you reading to support these ideas.

Two short excerpts from Aristotle: his famous account of the four causes in the Physics, Book Two, parts 3, 7, & 8, which discusses the "four causes"—what they are and whether they apply to nature as well as to man-made products and activities; and a short excerpt on God in Aristotle's Politics (trans. H. Rackham), sections [1323a14], [1323b1], [1324a1]. Use the little blue arrows in the upper left (right above each number just listed) to move from section to section.

Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Book One, chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9, which discusses "happiness"--what it is and how it is obtained; and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Book Two, chapters 1, 2, 4, and 6, which discusses the nature of moral virtue—what it is and how it is obtained. You should be able to explain what the four causes are and how they are obtained; what "happiness is and how it is obtained; and what moral virtue is and how it is obtained.

Aristotle's concept of happiness or eudaimonia in the Nicomachean Ethics, Book I, chapters 1, 4, & 7.

Plato's Republic, Books VI-VII, 506b to 518a on the divided line and the Parable of the Cave.

As you read the accounts of the divided line and the Myth or Parable of the Cave, consider the following:

  1. How does Socrates (here speaking for Plato) describe the "Good"?
  2. Does he give a clear definition of the Good?
  3. Describe in order the sections or divisions of the dividedline: what is the lowest type of knowledge?
  4. What is the highest?
  5. What the intermediates?
  6. In the Myth of the Cave, with what part of nature does Socrates identify the Good?
  7. What figure ties the earlier reading on the philosopher king to the Myth of the Cave?
  8. How are they connected?
  9. How does this contribute to the development of philosophy and to the discovery of the dimensions of the human soul and the mind?

Plato's Republic, Book IV, 427e to 445e on the four Classical virtues: wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice.

Plato's Crito.

Plato's Republic, Book V, 471c to 480a on the philosopher king.

As you read the passage from Book Five on the philosopher king, ask what Plato/Socrates seems to mean when he talks about "philosophers."

  1. Why are they fit to rule society?
  2. What do they know?
  3. what can philosophers know that is necessary for the proper government of society?
  4. How do Plato's ideas compare to the ideas of the Pre-Socratic philosophers that we discussed last week?
  5. What does Plato's opinion of most people seem to be?

For Plato, use the Stephanus Numbers to mark you place in the text.

Edited article on the Sophists. In Section 2 of the article, you need only read the short bios of Protagoras, Gorgias, and Thrasymachus. We are most interested in the major themes of sophistic thought.

Stephanus Numbers (Plato)

Excerpts from or about the Pre-Socratic philosophers.

As you read the excerpts from the pre-Socratic philosophers, consider the following questions:

  1. What seems to be the main interest of the group as a whole: the nature of the universe (cosmology) or of reality (ontology), or the nature of man (anthropology)? Ask yourself this of each philosopher individually, also.
  2. How do the thoughts of the philosophers contrast to the thoughts of the epic poets (Homer and Hesiod) that we read?
  3. What evidence, if any, does philosophic thought give us of the continuing emergence of individualism—the exploration and deepening understanding of the nature of man? This was one of the main themes in our discussion of the lyric poets.
  4. If both the lyric poems and the sayings of the philosophers reflect a parallel development in the understanding of the world and of man, and also in the appropriate method of understanding the world and man, how do the two types of literature—poetry and philosophy—differ from one another? What are the philosophers doing differently from the poets?
  5. Are the philosophers atheists? Do they reject the real existence of the gods? of the sacred?
These questions will be the basis of our discussion.

Lives of the Philosophers, by Diogenes Laertius (incomplete).

Greek Poetry

You should recognize the difference between epic, lyric, and tragic poetry and the significance of each in the evolution from mythic thought to rational or philosophic thought. The development of philosophic thought parallels the development of the Greeks' understanding of the nature of man and man's relation to the gods and the divine. The different approaches to history taken by the four historians we looked at also reflect the Greeks' advancing understanding of man and of the causes of human events.

The Eumenides by Aeschylus

Sophocles's Oedipus Rex

The Medea.

The link to the Medea review in the Post.

Euripides's Bacchae or Bacchants.

Please read The Eumenides by Aeschylus (trans. Morshead), one of the three great tragic poets of classical Greece. Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.) wrote more than seventy plays for the Dionysia Festival at Athens; seven remain, and among them the three plays of the Oresteia trilogy—Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, Eumenides. Sophocles (496-406 B.C.), his younger contemporary, is known best, perhaps, for the three plays that focus on the tragic life of King Oedipus—Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone. Only seven of his more than one hundred twenty plays have survived. The youngest of the three great tragedians, though a contemporary of Sophocles, is Euripides (480-406 B.C.). Eighteen of his more than ninety plays have survived, including Medea, Trojan Women, and The Bacchae or Bacchants.

Consider the following:

  1. Be able to identify all the characters, human and divine, and explain their significance to the plot in The Eumenides.
  2. What is the plot? What is the central issue or question or conflict calling for resolution in the play?
  3. How is that issue or conflict resolved?
  4. Some students have pointed out that The Eumenides, written in the fifth century B.C., describes some institutions and practices familiar to us today. Can you identify any of these "modern" institutions or practices?
  5. Please read the Greek lyric poems. This poetry marks a step away from the Homeric epic to the Pre-Socratic philosophers.

    As you read these poems, answer the following [quiz] questions:

    1. From his poems, what do you think is the occupation of Archilochus of Paros? What is his attitude toward life?
    2. What is the main theme of all the poems by Sappho?
    3. Who or what is Anacreon's "Thracian filly"?
    4. At what milestone event of a man's life would the poem by Theognis of Megara be appropriate?
    5. What does Pindar's poem congratulate Heiron for? What did Heiron do?
    6. Can you point to any evidence in any of the poems that shows that the poet thinks of himself differently from the way Homer or Hesiod thought of themselves?
    7. Can you find passages in the Odyssey that reflect the idea that the gods put thoughts and feelings in the minds and hearts of men?
    8. Can you find passages in the lyric poems that reflect people thinking for themselves or having feelings and emotions that begin within themselves rather than being placed within them by the gods?

    Finally, do the lyric poems of Archilochus and Alcman reflect the same attitude toward the world as Homer's Odyssey, Hesiod's Theogony, or neither of the two? Why? Is there anything different about the lyric poets' attitude toward the gods or themselves when compared to Homer's and Hesiod's? What? If not, how are all three sets of poems the same?

    Hesiod's Theogony. (This translation of the poem is in prose with the line numbers of the original poem version in parentheses at the beginning of each paragraph.) You do not have to read the whole poem, but you should be familiar with the content in lines 1-225, 453-491, and 543-744, and should skim the rest of the poem. It is fun to read.

    In Hesiod's poem, what does "theogony" mean? Where did the Greek gods literally come from? What is Hesiod trying to do here? What existed at the beginning of time? Generally, what happened thereafter, according to Hesiod? What stages in the history of the gods are described in the assigned readings?

    Does Hesiod's poem about the origins of the gods remind you of either the article by the Frankforts or the article by Eliade? What kind of information is Hesiod conveying to his readers? With the Frankforts' article in mind, would you call Hesiod's attitude "scientific" or "mythopoeic" or "mid-way between the two"? Why?

    Book Twenty-Two of the Odyssey.

    Please read Book One of Homer's Odyssey. You may use any translation. I think the ones by Richmond Lattimore and Robert Fagles are the best, but the only two available on the internet are the old translation by Samuel Butler and the A.T. Murray translation available here from the Tufts University Perseus website. (I suggest the Murray translation if you do not have a hard copy of another translation. Move forward and back in the Murray translation by using the little blue arrows in the upper left-hand corner of the text.)

    Butler calls the Greek gods by their Roman/Latin names. Thus, the Greek goddess Athene is called Minerva, Zeus is Jove, Poseidon is Neptune; the human hero of the poem, Odysseus, after whom the poem is named, is Ulysses, and so on (click here for a useful guide to the dual names).

    The Iliad and the Odyssey were two of the poems about the Trojan war that were part of the Epic Cycle. Except for the Iliad and the Odyssey, the other poems of the Epic Cycle have been lost, although (1) fragments of each of them and (2) references to, and quotations from, them in the writings of other authors remain and give us a good iead of the contents of each. (The famous story of the Trojan horse, for instance, is not found in theIliad or the Odyssey: it is found in the so-called Sack of Ilion.)

    Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian Sources

    Please read the short essay by Mircea Eliade that was handed out in class. As you read, ask yourself how Eliade describes primitive man's basic understanding of God or the gods? How, according to Eliade, does primitive man learn of the existence of God or the gods? Why is primitive man initially confused and puzzled by his experiences of the sacred? What specifically distinguishes the "sacred" or the "holy" from the "profane"? What are these concepts? (Be sure to look up all the words in the article that you are not familiar with.)

    The Academy for Ancient Texts Egyptian Book of the Dead

    The Osiris Legend (Deurer)

    Egyptian Love Poems

    (1) the legend of Osiris; (2) the Egyptian poems "Sister without Peer," "My Brother Torments my Heart," "My Heart Flutters Hastily"; (3) the Instructions of Ptahhotep ##1, 2, 4, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25; and (4) the Hymn to Aton. Again, all are linked under "Humanities I Readings" on my main webpage. You might want to compare the version of the Osiris myth at "TourEgypt.net" with the versions at Aldokkan or at the Academy for Ancient Texts Egyptian Book of the Dead, which is also linked on the main webpage. Some interesting variations.

    Aldokkan

    Uruk

    An interesting introduction to "Gilgamesh"

    (1) read all of the creation poem "Enuma Elish"; (2) read Tablets VII and VIII of the epic "Gilgamesh"; and (3) read the following rules from Hammurabi's Law Code: 1-30, 125-140, 195-235. All of these are available by links about halfway down my main webpage under the set of links entitled "Humanities I Readings." An interesting introduction to "Gilgamesh" can be found here; you might want to read about what happened on the first six tablets of the poem. When you read the rules from Hammurabi, look for (1) the kinds of offenses that are "capital crimes," that is, crimes punishable by death; (2) the different orders of people under the laws (different people treated differently according to who they are); (3) the different purposes of the laws (not all are criminal laws); and (4) the basic principles of justice that are exemplified in the rules.

    Frankforts and Eliade

    The Frankforts and Eliade describe some of the ways people thought about the world before the advent of the speculative, philosophic thought that we take for granted today. They also describe some of the fundamental ways in which primitive or ancient men understood the world. According to the Frankforts, how did primitive people view and understand the world in which they lived? How did they explain things that happened in nature—natural "phenomena"? According to the Frankforts, were the explanations of primitive people the results of their limited vocabulary and language skills—that is, primitives simply did not have the vocabulary to put into words what they really thought—or did they actually understand the world in terms of their mythological, poetic explanations? According to the Frankforts, what is "myth"? What is "reality"?

    According to Eliade, how did primitives understand the world? What does Eliade mean by the "sacred"? the "profane"? On what do the Frankforts and Eliade agree in describing primitive thinking.

    The two articles are not inconsistent with each other, but they focus on different aspects of the primitive outlook. The terms "primitive" and "ancient" are not intended by the authors as derogatory. The authors had the greatest respect for the people and the thought-processes that they call "primitive." These ways of thinking are still in existence (and, indeed will never be eliminated) in the population at large and, particularly, in the language and mythologies of tribal peoples throughout the world. Tony Hillerman's mystery novels about the Navajos in the Southwest reflect many of the characteristics described by the Frankforts and Eliade and European thinking.

    Book Reviews

    The basic guidelines for book reviews are as follows:

    1. The review should be five to seven pages long (no longer!), double-spaced, plus a title page. Remember it takes more effort to write succinctly than loosely ("I did not have time to write you a short letter, so I am writing you a long one.") I take your writing very seriously: proofreadable errors, poor grammar, and word choice all figure into your grade.
    2. Demonstrate in a page or page-and-a-half that you have indeed read all of what you are reviewing. Offer a summary statement addressing the themes, characters, or other appropriate subjects that ties the reading(s) together.
    3. Cite parenthetically the sources of your quotes and paraphrases. Typically, this means citing line numbers of poems and plays, not page numbers. There is no guarantee that my edition of the material is the same as your edition.
    4. Each review should apply ideas or concepts from a separate scholarly source or from another primary source to the material you are reviewing; the review must not be simply your impressions or personal assessment of the material. Certainly, Snell's book and the Frankforts' article are acceptable sources, and others may be as well, but they must be of a scholarly or academic nature. If you use another primary source, you may compare and contrast the two sources. For instance, if you are viewing the Iliad, you may use the Odyssey as a point of comparison-contrast rather than applying the ideas or concepts of a scholarly source. This is a review, not a research paper.

    Video Series

    Art of the Western World. Narrated by Michael Wood. Annenberg Learner Series.

    The Western Tradition. Narrated by Eugen Weber. Annenberg Learner Series.