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Ancient Novel

ENGL 096.401
instructor(s):
TR 10:30-12

The Ancient Novel The ancient Greek and Roman novels include some of the most enjoyable and interesting literary works from antiquity. Ignored by ancient critics, they were until fairly recently dismissed by classical scholars as mere popular entertainment. But these narratives had an enormous influence on the later development of the novel, and in their sophistication and playfulness, they often seem peculiarly modern -- or even postmodern. They are also an important source for any understanding of ancient culture and society. In this course, we will discuss the social, religious and philosophical contexts for the ancient novel, and we will think about the relationship of the novel to other ancient genres, such as history and epic. Texts to be read will include Lucian's parodic science fiction story about a journey to the moon; Longus' touching pastoral romance about young love and sexual awakening; Heliodorus' gripping and exotic thriller about pirates and long-lost children; Apuleius' Golden Ass, which contains the story of Cupid and Psyche; and Petronius' Satyricon, a hilarious evocation of an orgiastic Roman banquet.