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Classics CL115: Freedom and Authority: An Introduction to Classical Literature and Archaeology: Sights and Sounds of the Greeks and Romans

Block 1: Marcia Dobson

Block 2: Sanjaya Thakur

The Intervention of the Sabine Women

This two-block course meets the Critical Perspectives: The West in Time requirement.

CL115: Introduction to Ancient Greek and Roman Cultures progresses through reading of original sources and examination of material culture. Students will be exposed to literature from various genres (such as epic, dramatic, lyric, and philosophical) and consider modern ways of receiving and interpreting them. In 2013, the course will emphasize ancient understandings of the human individual in distinctive political (polis, republic, and empire), social, and religious contexts in addition to the reception of the literary, philosophical, and artistic records of that development. Texts include Homeric and Virgilian epic, Greek tragedy, and comedy, Platonic and Epicurean philosophy, Greek and Roman historians. The second part of the course will focus on the art, architecture, and topography that relate to the texts discussed in course. We will explore sites throughout Greece and the Roman Empire, and objects found therein, while examining monumental building and the use of public space. The course will offer an introduction to printed and online sources of information and to college-level writing. 

Considering Freedom & Authority: We will examine the conflicts of individual freedom and institutional authority in ethics, politics, science, and religion. Readings emphasize the development of these conflicts in Western culture from antiquity to modern times and are related to the decisions students must make concerning the central values in their lives.

A two block course with one professor for each block; one grade will be given for the course as a whole.


  • This course serves as a gateway to the Classics major.
  • Both blocks, taken together, fulfill 2 units of classics toward a 7-14 unit requirement. This course also applies to the Classics-English and Classics-History-Politics majors.
  • The course will involve some evening film screenings.
  • This block will include an overnight camping trip to the Great Sand Dunes National Park during block 2.