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CLA 57 — Great Books, Big Ideas from Antiquity: Rome

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 15—Mar 19
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Jan 28
Units: 2
Tuition: $480
Instructor(s): Christopher Krebs
Status: Open
7:00—8:50 pm
Jan 15—Mar 19
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 28
2 Units
Christopher Krebs
Why read texts written hundreds, even thousands of years ago in languages not spoken anymore? Because of their formal beauty; because they captured an ephemeral sentiment or formulated an idea for all time; because Western culture is not just built on them but with them. We owe to the Homeric poems the notion of an odyssey, to Aeschylus and his companions the “tragic,” to Herodotus the idea of history as an investigation of the past, to Cicero the art of rhetoric, to Ovid countless tales and myths and parables (of Icarus, say, or Pygmalion), and to Thucydides and Tacitus realpolitik. In this course, we will read selections from Lucretius’ poem On the Nature of Things, Cicero’s Speeches Before Caesar, Caesar’s Gallic Wars, Vergil’s Aeneid, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Tacitus’ Annales and Germania, and Augustine’s Confessions.

Each week will focus on one particular text and concept or method, and by the end of the course, students should have an educated idea of the history of Roman literature in its archaic, classic, and “post-classic” periods; exposure to a sample of its enduring literary masterpieces; and a notion of some of the major contributions Rome made to Western civilization.

This is the second of two courses on ancient literature. The first course, “Great Books, Big Ideas from Antiquity: Greece” (Fall 2018), covered works from Homer, Aeschylus, and Herodotus, while this course will focus on Lucretius to Augustine. While these courses build upon one another, each course can be taken independently as well.

Christopher Krebs, Associate Professor of Classics, Stanford

Christopher Krebs studied Classics and philosophy in Berlin, Kiel, and Oxford and taught at Harvard before coming to Stanford. He is the author of A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’s Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich, which received the 2012 Christian Gauss Award. Krebs has also written for The Wall Street Journal and The Times Literary Supplement.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Lucretius, Trans. Melville, On the Nature of the Universe (Oxford World Classics) (ISBN 978-0199555147)
(Required) Caesar, Trans. C. Hammond, The Gallic War (Oxford World Classics) (ISBN 978-0199540266)
(Required) Caesar, Trans. C. Hammond, Selected Political Speeches (Penguin) (ISBN 978-0140442144)
(Required) Sallust (Author), William W. Batstone (Author) , Catiline’s Conspiracy, The Jugurthine War, Histories (Oxford University Press, 2010) (ISBN 978-0192823458)
(Required) Virgil, Trans. R. Fagles, The Aeneid (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) (ISBN 978-0143105138)
(Required) Ovid, Trans. A. D. Melville, Metamorphoses (Oxford World Classics) (ISBN 978-0199537372)
(Required) Ed. D. Norton, The Bible (Penguin Classics) (ISBN 978-0141441511)
(Required) Tacitus, Trans. J. C. Yardley, The Annals (Oxford World Classics) (ISBN 978-0192824219)
(Required) Tacitus, Ed. J. Rives, The Agricola and the Germania (Penguin) (ISBN 978-0140455403)
(Required) Augustinus, Trans. Chadwick, Confessions (Oxford World Classics) (ISBN 978-0199537822)
(Required) Christopher Krebs, A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’ Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich (New York: W.W. Norton, 2012) (ISBN 978-0393342925)