Classical History and Literature Tour

How exactly did audiences of Aeschylus's plays or Virgil's poetry experience their works? What is the relationship between the day-to-day life of the ancients and the major historical events and literary works of the classical world? In this travel course to Greece and Sicily, students will examine the critical role of place in understanding Greco-Roman culture.

Visits to archeological sites, such as Greek amphitheatres and Roman villas, museums, art galleries and churches that once served as important pagan temples will provide students with a foundational knowledge of antiquity so that they may explore connections between the textual artifact — the works of Greco-Roman writers — and the artifacts of the culture from which they arose — the physical remains of that world.

Visits to individual sites will be tied to short readings from major Classical authors, such as Homer, Sappho, Thucydides, Virgil, Livy and Ovid, and will focus on specific themes related to individual texts, including constructions of gender throughout antiquity, class boundaries and social stratification, conflicting attitudes towards cultural otherness and sexuality in the ancient world. Finally, in touring these sites and museums, students will also be asked to reflect on the different ways that contemporary Greece and Italy exploit antiquity, both in defining regional or national identity and in marketing it as a commodity for tourists.