CLAS 101(F) Greek Literature (Same as Comparative Literature 107)

From the Homeric epics of the eighth century to the tragedies of fifth century Athens, the literature of the archaic and classical Greek world was produced by and for a "performance society" in which genres like epic and lyric, iambics and elegy, victory odes for athletes and hymns for the gods, comedy and tragedy, history and oratory and even philosophy, all developed out of the numerous and varied occasions at which both poetry (usually accompanied by music and very often by dance) and prose were performed. As we read in translation Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days, several Homeric Hymns, selections from poets like Archilochus, Sappho, Solon and Pindar, tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, comedies by Aristophanes, brief selections from the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides, and perhaps a Platonic dialogue, we will attend to the performance contexts in which these works were first produced, from the small drinking party to large festivals, and to the different kinds of audience each "genre" presupposes and, indeed, implicitly constructs. Our chief aim in doing so will be to enrich our readings of individual texts and to provide a framework for exploring some of the issues that persist in a literature produced over four turbulent centuries of social and political change for example: the godlike in humans and yet our human limitations, particularly our mortality; whether the family and community that survive us or the "fame" of poetry can provide adequate compensation for individuals' mortality; gender constructions and their relation to "genres"; changing conceptions of community and of the individual's and family's relation to it as various types of the polis ("city-state") develop. Format: lecture/discussion. Evaluation will be based on short response papers, two or three 5- to 7-page papers, and a final exam. No prerequisites. Enrollment limit: 40 (expected: 25-30). Preference given to first-year students and sophomores.