Classics 212/English 200P – Greek & Roman Biography:

Lives of Famous Greeks and Romans (and a few other nationalities)

Fall 2007        2:50 - 4:15 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday         Fine Arts 209
Binghamton University SUNY, Department of Classical & Near Eastern Studies

Instructor: John H. Starks, Jr. 

jstarks@binghamton.edu_  607-777-4524

Library Tower 1102 _ Office Hours M 12-1, Th 10-12

Alexander the Great "Battle of Issus"
Pompeii I BCE, (Museo Nazionale, Naples)

Denarius of Julius Caesar
44 BCE

Cleopatra VII 51-30 BCE
(Hermitage, St. Petersburg)

Icon of Luke
the Evangelist

Bust of Emperor
Commodus, c. 190 CE

Course Requirements

Daily Syllabus/Assignments

Course Synopsis: In addition to their general fascination with history, Greeks and Romans developed strong interest in the public and private lives of the most famous personalities from their political and cultural traditions. What Augustus ate and how Cleopatra looked were just as interesting and informative as Pyrrhus' attempted imperial policies and Alexander the Great's military tactics. Ancient biographers crafted these public and private worlds into well organized, often meticulously documented and thoroughly entertaining packages that express the best and worst of human behavior. Through reading and discussion of the famous biographies of Plutarch and Suetonius, as well as some lesser known biographical sketches, the Gospel of Luke and some lives of saints, and modern essays on lives of famous women in the Roman world, we will examine values and events that helped shape ancient and modern western civilization. Through additional viewing of ancient coins and statuary and modern dramatizations of Roman lifestyles, as represented in Cleopatra, I, Claudius, Gladiator, Alexander, HBO Rome, and 300, we will also note the cultural lenses through which Greek and Roman lifestyles and mores have often been viewed in the later western tradition. This class will serve as an introduction to Greek and Roman civilizations and history, and to historical and philosophical modes of thought and construction.