GREEK 201 – PLATO & THUCYDIDES

 

 

Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Office: Thomas 245

Office Phone: 526-5046

redmonds@brynmawr.edu

 

Carpenter 15

MWF 11:00-12:00

Office Hours: MWF 9-10

or by appointment

 

 

 

Required Texts:

Plato, Symposium – Cambridge Edition and Commentary by Kenneth Dover

Plato, Symposium – Bryn Mawr Text and commentary by Gilbert Rose

Thucydides, Book VI – Text and Commentary by Kenneth Dover

Thucydides, Book 6 – Bryn Mawr Commentary by Cynthia Shelmerdine

 

Suggested Texts:

Plato, The Symposium, trans. Waterfield

Thucydides, The Landmark Thucydides, ed. Strassler

Plutarch, The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives, trans. Scott-Kilvert

 

Course Description:

 

            Greek 201 is designed to introduce the student to two of the greatest prose authors of ancient Greece, the philosopher, Plato, and the historian, Thucydides.  These two writers set the terms in the disciplines of philosophy and history for millennia, and philosophers and historians today continue to grapple with their ideas and influence. 

The Symposium (or Drinking Party) of Plato provides an engaging introduction to the philosophy of Plato in its depiction of Plato’s teacher, Socrates, discussing eros at an Athenian drinking party.  The Symposium also reveals Plato’s mastery of the Greek language as he creates the speeches of a number of different individuals, including the famous comic poet Aristophanes and the tragedian Agathon.  Particularly memorable is the speech of the brilliant statesman Alcibiades, who crashes the party and provides a drunken eulogy of Socrates before compelling everyone to drink heavily for the rest of the evening.

Alcibiades provides a link between the two texts in this course.  The sixth book of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War is concerned with the beginnings of the Athenian Sicilian expedition, Athens’ greatest disaster in the Peloponnesian War.  The Sicilian expedition was urged and undertaken by Alcibiades, and his spectacular downfall and defection during the mission perhaps doomed it to failure.  In this course we will examine the ways in which both writers handle the figure of Alcibiades as a point of entry into the comparison of the varying styles and modes of thought of these two great writers.  Through this course, students should improve their fluency with standard Attic prose and gain an appreciation of the complexities and nuances of Greek style in the texts of two of the greatest prose writers.  Students should also increase their understanding of the cultural context in which these texts were produced, as well as of the scholarly tradition that has engaged with these texts for over two millennia. 


 

Course Requirements:

 

Class participation:

            Participation, of course, includes attendance, since you cannot participate if you are not in class.  If, for some reason, you cannot attend class, please inform me in advance.  In each class session, we will translate aloud from the portions of the text assigned for the week.  Please be prepared to translate any of the readings specified in the previous class session.  If, for some reason, you cannot prepare for class, please attend anyway-you will be better prepared for the next class. 

            We will also spend time discussing the characters and ideas that animate these texts, since the value of Plato and Thucydides lies not merely in their incomparable mastery of Greek prose, but in the thoughts which they expressed so well.  We will often look at some secondary reading on the section of text covered in the classes for the week.  For each reading, one student will be responsible for introducing and starting discussion on the material, but every student is expected to contribute intelligently to the discussion.  The readings will be available on Moodle, and they can also be reached by link from the on-line version of the syllabus at: http://www.brynmawr.edu/classics/redmonds/grek20113.htm.

 

Writing Assignments: 

            A short writing assignment will be assigned for each of the authors covered in the class.  The assignment for Plato’s Symposium will take the form of a speech in praise of eros, whereas the assignment for Thucydides Book VI will take the form of a commentary on a short passage. Students are encouraged to submit draft versions for comment before turning them in for a grade.

 

Quizzes:

            There will be a short (10 minute) quiz every Monday on the material covered in the previous week.  One quiz may be missed without penalty, but there are no make-up quizzes.  If no quiz is missed, the lowest quiz grade may be dropped.  The quizzes are intended to ensure that you keep up with the readings and give you further practice to build your Greek syntax and vocabulary.

 

Exams:

            There will be a mid-term and a final for this class on all the materials covered to that date in class.  The Midterm will be in class on the Friday before the Autumn break.  The Final Exam will be self-scheduled during the Exam period.  Both the Midterm and the Final may include essays dealing with the themes discussed in the works as well as passages for translation.

 

Students who think they may need accommodations in this course due to the impact of a learning, physical, or psychological disability are encouraged to meet with me privately early in the semester to discuss their concerns.  Students should also contact Stephanie Bell, Coordinator of Access Services (610-526-7351 or sbell@brynmawr.edu), as soon as possible, to verify their eligibility for reasonable academic accommodations.  Early contact will help to avoid unnecessary inconvenience and delays.

 

Grade Distribution:

Class Participation                   15%

Written Assignments               10%

Quizzes                                    40%

Midterm Exam                                    15%

Final Exam                              20%


Week I: 

Introduction

Review of syntax

172a-174a Apollodorus' Prologue

174a-178a Aristodemus' Introduction

Secondary Reading:  Symposium in English

 

 

Week II: 

174a-180b Aristodemus' Introduction & the Speech of Phaedrus

Secondary Reading:  Halperin, “The Erotics of Narrativity”

 

 

Week III: 

180c-189b the Speeches of Pausanias & Eryximachus

Secondary Reading:  Edelstein, “The Role of Eryximachus”

 

 

Week IV: 

189c-199c the Speeches of Aristophanes and Agathon

Secondary Reading:  Plochmann, "Supporting Themes in the Symposium"

 

 

Week V: 

199c-215a the Speeches of Socrates and Diotima

Secondary Reading:  Halperin, “Why is Diotima a Woman?”

Supplementary Reading: Plotinus Ennead III.5

 

Week VI: 

199c-215a the Speeches of Socrates and Diotima

215a-223d the Speech of Alcibiades

Secondary Reading:  Moravcsik, “Reason and Eros in the ‘Ascent’-Passage of the Symposium”

Midterm Exam

 

Week VII: No Class! – Autumn Break

 

 

Week VIII:

215a-223d the Speech of Alcibiades

Secondary Reading:  Nussbaum, “The Speech of Alcibiades”

Symposium Conclusions

Encomium Assignment Due Friday

 

 

Week IX:

Introduction to Thucydides

Thucydides VI.1-8

Secondary Reading: Thucydides I. 1-22

 

 

Week X: 

Thucydides VI.9-17

Secondary Reading:  Plutarch Life of Nicias, Plutarch Life of Alcibiades

 

 

Week XI: 

Thucydides VI.18-29

Secondary Reading: Tompkins, "Stylistic Characterization in Thucydides"

 

 

Week XII: 

Thucydides VI.30-33, 53-55

Secondary Reading:  Murray, “The Affair of the Mysteries:  Democracy and the Drinking Group”

 

 

 

Week XIII: 

Thucydides VI.56-60; 76-80

Supplementary Reading:  Melian dialogue (V.84-111); Euripides Trojan Women & Aristophanes Clouds (excerpts)

Thanksgiving-no class Friday

 

 

Week XIV: 

Thucydides VI.81-88.2; 89-93

Secondary Reading:  Andocides, On the Mysteries

Commentary Assignment Due

 

 

Week XV: 

Conclusions

Review