CLGR 407(F) The Sophists

This course considers the nature of the sophistic movement and its impact on Athens and Athenian authors in the second half of the fifth century B.C.E. We will devote the first half of the term to developing an understanding of the movement through selected readings, both in Greek and in translation, from the extant fragments of Protagoras, Gorgias, Antiphon, and other sophistic thinkers; from those dialogues of Plato (e.g., Protagoras, Symposium, Gorgias) and Xenophon (e.g., Memorabilia) that focus on the sophists and their relationship to Socrates; and from Thucydides ("Melian Dialogue") and Euripides (e.g., Hecuba), both of whom were profoundly influenced by the sophists. During the second half of the course we will read, in Greek and in its entirety, Aristophanes' Clouds, with a focus on trying to understand both the play itself and the complex relationship of its playwright to Socrates and the sophists. We will also read, in translation, one or two other plays of Aristophanes (e.g., Birds, Frogs). Format: seminar, with classes devoted primarily to translation and discussion of the texts we are reading. Evaluation will be based on 75-minute midterm and final exams consisting primarily of translation of assigned Greek texts, and above all on participation in class, presentation of oral reports, and a substantial final paper. Prerequisites: Greek 202 or permission of instructor. Enrollment limit: 10 (expected: 7).