The goal of this course is to grapple authors who asked questions that are fundamental to a liberal education and who strove to answer those questions with a profundity that set a standard for great thinking after them. Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes, and Plato asked the questions central to human life: wherein lie human happiness and human dignity? These authors also addressed the requisite corollary questions: what is the nature of the human soul? what is the best kind of polity? what virtue does a particular polity encourage? what virtue does a particular kind of literature teach?
We will read the following works in whole or in part: Homer’s Iliad, Herodotus’ Persian Wars, Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, Sophocles’ Antigone, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, Aristophanes’ The Clouds, several dialogues of Plato (Apology, Meno,Gorgias, Republic, Phaedrus).
Course requirements: 3 short papers, final paper, regular class participation.