R1B - 002 | CCN: 22145

The Craft of Writing

The Greeks on War: Ancient and Contemporary Versions

Instructor: Ali Bond and Isabel Gottlieb

4 Units

The Ancient Greeks are a rich source of war-related poetry, drama, and historical information, and are often invoked in contemporary settings as a source of “timeless” insights. This course explores ancient Greek attitudes towards war in epic poems, theater, history, and philosophy, and critically examines contemporary renderings and reconfigurations of Greek stories and ideas. We’ll begin by considering the Greeks in their own context, investigating their rhetoric and rationales for and against war; war’s myriad political, social, and personal effects; its mythic and heroic dimensions; and Greek representations of gender and power. We will also consider the ways in which genre or form—such as epic, or tragedy, or philosophical argument—can influence the content, allowing different kinds of ideas about war to be expressed. We’ll then turn to contemporary adaptations of ancient Greek myths, and examine which insights contemporary authors attribute to the ancients. We will ask how these texts are translated, not only across language, but also across cultures and historical periods.

As this is an R1B course, we will focus on the skills required to develop research papers, including close reading, critical analysis, and developing an effective structure and style for an argumentative essay through a process of writing and revision. Students will produce a 10-12 page research paper as their final project.

Readings will include excerpts from Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, and Aristophanes; and contemporary renderings by Doerries, Weil, Shay, Oswald, Scarry, Logue, Slatkin, and McLaughlin.