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ARLT 101g Syll 09

ARLT 101g Syll 09 - ARLT 101g Spring 2009 Masters of Power...

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ARLT 101g Masters of Power: 10 Ancient Lives Spring 2009 Prof. Vincent Farenga Course Description This course satisfies the G. E. requirement in Category V, Arts and Letters, because it introduces you to works of literature, philosophy, history and film that span the ancient and modern worlds, asking, ―What is the meaning of an ancient life in our modern world?‖ We examine ten remarkable individuals in Greco-Roman antiquity: a democratic statesman (Pericles), brilliant generals (Alcibiades and Julius Caesar), a world conqueror (Alexander), an empire builder (Augustus)—but also a philosopher of dissent (Socrates), a monstrous tyrant (Nero), a power-mad matriarch (Agrippina), and two tragic lovers (Mark Antony and Cleopatra). We’ll find their stories in Greek and Roman historians and biographers (Thucydides, Plutarch, Arrian, Tacitus and Suetonius) and philosophers (Plato, Xenophon, Diogenes Laertius). We also examine modern attempts to capture the same lives: in Shakespearean drama ( Julius Caesar [1599], Antony and Cleopatra [1607]); in historical fiction (Robert Graves’ I, Claudius [1934] and a novel about Alcibiades and the Peloponnesian War, The Tides of War [2000]); in feature films and TV series (Oliver Stone’s Alexander [2004]; HBO’s Rome [2006-7], Joseph Mankiewicz’ Julius Caesar [1953] and Cleopatra [1963]); the Royal Shakespeare Company’s [1974]; and the BBC’s I, Claudius [1976]. These ancient-modern comparisons will illuminate the different meanings an ancient life can have. For the ancients a ―life‖ is a tale that is morally or politically useful to others, but modern artists transform these lives into characters in a drama, novel, or film. Goals of the Course: What Will You Learn? 1. You’ll learn the most memorable stories in the Western tradition about antiquity’s most powerful individuals—and how they are powerfully relevant to our lives. 2. You’ll appreciate how strong an impact genre can have when it frames a life differently as history, biography, philosophical apology [self-defense] and dialogue, tragedy, novel, and film. 3. You’ll understand different ways to evaluate and interpret a human life: historically and politically as an agent of power; philosophically as a moral character, a model, and a ―person‖; and artistically as a ―character.‖
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4. You’ll develop the ability to write authoritatively, persuasively, and creatively as you elaborate different kinds of arguments about ways ancient lives are relevant to our contemporary world. Course requirements
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ARLT 101g Syll 09 - ARLT 101g Spring 2009 Masters of Power...

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