The goal of this course is to grapple with authors who asked questions 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, Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound and the Oresteia, Aristophanes’ The Clouds, and five dialogues of Plato (Apology, Meno, Gorgias, Republic, Phaedrus).
Course requirements: 3 short papers, final paper, regular class participation.
Texts: Homer’s Iliad, trans. Fagles; Aeschylus I, trans. Grene, Lattimore, etc. (Chicago) and Aeschylus II, trans. Grene, Lattimore, etc. (Chicago); Four Texts on Socrates, ed. West and West (Cornell); Plato, Republic, trans. Grube (Hackett); Plato, Gorgias, trans. Zeyl (Hackett); Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian Wars, trans. Crawley (McGraw-Hill); Plato, Phaedrus, trans. Nehemas and Woodruff (Hackett); Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, in The Birth of Tragedy and The Case of Wagner, trans. Kaufmann (Vintage).