Spring 2012 Courses

The following is a selection only of courses relating to the Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology program that will be offered in the Spring 2014 semester. Please see the online schedule of classes for updated information.


Department of Classics

Civil War and Civil Strife in Roman Literature

Course/Section: 239 (Section 2)
Location: 308C, Doe Library
Times: T 2-5p

Instructor: Sailor, Dylan

In this seminar we will look at civil war as a subject of Roman literature. We will read several long stretches of narrative (Caesar BC, Sallust BC, Aeneid 7-12, Lucan, Tacitus’ Histories) as well as a variety of shorter pieces (Vergil, Horace, Propertius, Petronius, etc.). Recurring questions and problems will include (in no particular order) genre, pollution and expiation, literary tradition and competition, language, space, identity, commemoration and forgetting, metaphor, explanation, the Principate, the empire.


Vertumnus - A god with no identity, a god with many identities, a god of identity

Course/Section: 239 (Section 3)
Location: 308C, Doe Library
Times: W 2-5p

Instructor: Bettini, Maurizio

The seminar will discuss the role and character of an unusual Roman deity, known to us through one of the most original elegies by Propertius, 4, 2. Vertumnus was a god of metamorphosis – but in which sense? Unlike his Greek counterparts, such as Proteus, Thétis or Thémis, he was not a divine force able to manifest in any possible natural form, such as fire, water, animals, trees ... The metamorphoses of Vertumnus had a specific and limited range, not only the human one, but the one of the civitas. He was a master of social identities, able to fittingly and perfectly take each of them: as such Vertumnus is the perfect guide to introduce ourselves into the very fabric of Roman identity. What did the Romans use to determine / ascertain the identity of a person? The metamorphoses of Vertumnus can reveal that. In addition, we must take into account that Vertumnus’ transformations did not take place only in some imaginary world, that of mythology and literary fiction; but in the middle of the Vicus Tuscus, because, as Propertius tells us, it was also its statue, cast by the legendary artifex Mamurius Veturius, that had the power of turning its external semblance in an endless series of appearances. That will give us an opportunity to explore another fascinating sphere of Roman culture, i. e. the set of semiotic devices used by the Romans to identify their images.


Department of History

Roman North Africa from 300-500 CE

Course/Section: 280A
Location: 3104 Dwinelle
Times: TH 1-3p

Instructor: Elm, Susanna

North Africa has long been considered a space apart in the Western Roman empire, not least because of its long periods of peace and prosperity. As Brent Shaw's 2011 book on Sacred Violence stresses, however, peace and prosperity were achieved in a context of strive. What then was going on in this province? What does recent research, including archaeological research tell us? How did this part of the empire transform itself into a Christian part, and what are the repercussions? And how different was Africa? Tracing the history of the region between (roughly) the rule of Diocletian and the end of the Vandals should shed some light on a number of important questions, from rural settlements to the decline of Rome even if, inevitably, the figure of Augustine will tower over all else.

Department of History of Art

The Sacred and the Arts from the Ancient Near East to the Late Antique

Course/Section: HA C220
Location: 308D, Doe Library
Times: W 9-12 a
Instructors: Angelova, Diliana — Feldman, Marian

This seminar will address cross-cultural and “longue durée” concerns regarding ritual and the sacred in the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean world from the early periods in Mesopotamia to the Late Antique (c. 500 CE). We will take as our initial focus several case studies drawn from both the Ancient Near Eastern and Late Antique worlds to serve as springboards for discussion. These case studies will range from landscapes and urban spaces, to individual architectural structures, to images and forms. Topics that will be touched on in the course include spiritual seeing and visuality, mysticism and sacred architecture, visual exegesis, icons and their meanings, material and visual aspects of ritual practice, and the intertwining of the sacred with collective memory and communal identity.


Department of Near Eastern Studies

Ancient and Modern Hebrew Literary Texts

Course/Section: Hebrew 206
Location: 275 BARROWS
Times: Th 2-5
Instructors: Hendel, R. S. — Alter, R. B.