Poetry and Politics in Ancient Greece
English 329: Poetry and Politics in Ancient Greece This course is about the good life. Socrates asks of his challenger in The Republic: "Do do you suppose you are trying to determine a small matter and not a course of life on the basis of which each of us would have the most profitable existence?” For Socrates, defining the good life is the central philosophical endeavor. The goal of this course is to watch Socrates as he picks his way through the various answers to this question, taking up the positions of his predecessors and considering them one by one: that the good life is a life of courage and honor, that the good life requires figuring out man's relationship with the gods, that the good life is freedom from slavery to another people, that the good life requires political prudence, or that the good life is disciplined obedience to tradition. We will read Homer's Iliad, Herodotus' Persian Wars, Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian Wars, Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, and six dialogues of Plato: Apology, Crito, Meno, Protagoras, Gorgias, and the Phaedrus. Requirement: regular class preparation and participation, two short papers, one long paper. Papers may be rewritten._______________If a student wants to jump into the reading over the break, he or she should send me an email, and I will send in return a guide to Homer's Iliad: email@example.com_______________Texts: Homer’s Iliad, trans. Fitzgerald (please, this translation); Herodotus, The Landmark Herodotus (The Free Press); Aeschylus II, trans. Grene, Lattimore, etc. (Chicago); Thucydides, The Landmark Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian Wars (The Free Press); Four Texts on Socrates, ed. West and West (Cornell); Plato, Republic, trans. Grube (Hackett); Plato, Gorgias, trans. Zeyl (Hackett); Plato, Protagoras, trans. Lombardo; Plato, Phaedrus, trans. Nehemas and Woodruff (Hackett).