In this course, we will read some great works of the classical and medieval period and then examine selected plays, mostly tragedies, of Shakespeare in the light of the heroic traditions of those works. The chief definitions of heroism will be, first, the warrior who is sometimes a leader and second, the man of the world, sometimes a leader, who seeks to understand the wisdom that a Creator allows his creature. We will reflect on Shakespeare's insight into why these kinds of heroism can, in tragedy make all too clear that life has irreconcilable conflicts. The goals of the course are the general ones of a liberal education--appreciation of intelligent thinking and care with language. Reading: Homer's Iliad, Virgil's Aeneid, Dante's Divine Comedy, Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and The Tempest. Two papers and a final.