College of Arts and Sciences

Ancient Studies


The list below is meant to serve as a quick reference for available courses that count toward the PhD minor in Ancient Studies. For times, location, and faculty please see the Office of the Registrar Schedule of Classes.

Fall 2023 


Art History (see also: Classical Studies)

 ArtH-A626: Seeing is believing: Monumental church decoration in the medieval Roman (Byzantine) Empire (Topics in Byzantine Art) (Bassett)

 Course Description: The legalization of Christianity and its establishment as the religion of the Roman state in the fourth century brought with it a sea change in the conception of sacred space and its decoration that set the stage for the emergence of later medieval traditions in the territories of the Orthodox Roman world. This seminar will begin by examining the traditions of monumental church building and decoration that emerged in the fourth and fifth centuries. It will then consider later developments in the period of Iconoclasm (8th century), before looking at later medieval developments from the ninth century through the fifteenth. We will not only examine the types of architecture and decoration, but also attitudes towards and ideas about imagery and its power to shape belief.

 Central Eurasian Studies

 CEUS-R 599 (31073) THE SCYTHIAN EMPIRE FROM PERSIA TO CHINA (Advanced Topics in Central Eurasian Studies; Meets with CEUS-R 399 (31072)) Thursday 3:00-4:15 PM (Beckwith)

 Course Description:Introduction to the Classical Scythians, their previously little known history, culture, and philosophy. The Scythians conquered and creolized the entire steppe zone of Central Eurasia, as well as neighboring pre-Iranian Iran, Central Asia, and north China, in the 7th century bce. They thus introduced to those regions their innovative culture and language, which took root and spread through the Classical period. Among other things they introduced the earliest known philosophy (in the strict sense), a new feudal-hierarchical political system, and radically new, elegant, clothing fashions. The Scythians changed the world. Readings will include the instructor’s new book of the same title as well as translations and studies of Classical period source texts from Akkadian, Old Persian, Greek, and Chinese.

Classical Studies

CLAS G516: Greek Comedy Monday/Wednesday 3:00-4:15 PM (Melzer)  

Course Description:   This advanced Greek translation course will introduce students to 5thcentury BCE Athenian comedy through the plays of Aristophanes. Two works will be read in Greek, with additional translations and scholarship provided to immerse students in the political and fantastical world of Greek Old Comedy.

CLAS-C 513 or ARTH-A 501 (Topics in Ancient Art): The Art and Archaeology of Greece Lindley Hall 125 – Tuesday/Thursday – 1:15-2:30 pm (Blackwell)  

Course Description: Art and archaeology of Greece from about 1000 B.C. through the Hellenistic period. Special attention to the development of Greek architecture, sculpture, and vase painting.

CLAS-C 308: CLAS C419 and CLAS C503: Art and Archaeology of Pompeii (under title Pompeii/The Ancient City). Tuesday/Thursday 11:30-12:45 PM (LH125; Mazurek)

Course Description: The art and archaeology of Pompeii. Perhaps the most famous Roman archaeological site, Pompeii was a middling coastal city when it was destroyed in Mt. Vesuvius’ eruption of 79 CE. Because its inhabitants had little time to flee (and many were not able to escape!), scholars have often treated the city as a time capsule of sorts. Whole houses, including wall paintings, furniture, and dishes, remained standing. Temples, taverns, brothels, and baths — all are there for us in ways that are not true of Roman cities on the whole. This course will use these extraordinary sites as a way to examine Pompeii “from below.” We will use houses to explore how families divided space between genders, insiders and outsiders, enslaved and free. We’ll look at how Pompeiians moved around their city, how they communicated with one another, and what kinds of interactions took place in which parts of the city. Students will gain skills in working with material culture, understanding space and society, and reading scholarly articles.


   History H605 & H705 Greek Democracy: Athens and Beyond, Monday 6:30-8:30 PM (BH 010; Robinson) 

Course Description: History of Greek democracy in the Archaic and Classical periods, with special focus on its appearance in city-states beyond Athens, considering democracy’s definition, beginnings, expansion, and functioning in different settings. Graduate students in history, classics, ancient studies, political science, law, and related fields are welcome. Prior knowledge of the general outlines of Greek history is expected, though there are no specific course prerequisites. Newcomers to Greek history should plan to do extra background reading early in the course.

 Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures

 MELC-E500 Elementary Hieroglyphic Egyptian, Monday through Friday 8:00 AM–8:50 AM (LH 112; Siegel)

MELC-E600 Intermediate Middle Egyptian, Tuesday/Thursday   1:15 PM–2:30 PM (SY 100; Vinson) Requires permission of instructor 

MELC-E507 Seminar in Ancient Egyptian History II: Amarna Period through the Graeco-Roman Period, Thursday 2:00 PM – 5:45 PM (room TBA; Siegel)  


 Phil-P511: Plato on Becoming Good, MW 3:00-4:15 PM (Meadows)

Course Description:  Plato’s understanding of human virtue and of how people attain it. While the course will consider Plato’s fully virtuous person, it will have a particular interest in the less-than-fully virtuous person. We will consider Plato’s account of ordinary (non-philosophical) virtue in texts like the Phaedo, Republic and Laws, and ask both how close to full virtue Plato thinks a non-philosopher can come and whether Plato changes his mind about that question over time. We will also consider the attempts Plato makes in the dialogues to convince his (imperfectly virtuous) audience to care more about virtue, and ask both what strategies Plato uses to do so and how much moral progress he thinks these strategies can effect.


 REL-R620: Augustine's Confessions, Thursday 3:00-5:30 PM (Schott)

Course Description: Augustine’s Confessions remains one of the most influential texts in the canon of Western literature. It has shaped centuries of biographical and autobiographical writing, religious and otherwise; defined how concepts like “sin,” “grace,” and “salvation” have and continue to be imagined; and served as a font (and foil) of inspiration and influence on writers from Petrarch to Malcolm X. Our course will center around the close reading of the Confessions, attending to the text both in its historical contexts and its reception and influence. Topics will be determined in part by the interests of the students in the course, but may include: conceptions of childhood, education, and human development; gender and sexuality; Augustine and Platonic philosophy; Augustine and Manichaeism; genre (biography/autobiography). All primary source readings will be in English translation. Students will be encouraged to engage in additional readings in original languages based on their needs and interests. Coursework will consists of periodic short written reflections and a final larger written project (e.g. research paper, literature review, etc.), to be determined in consultation with the instructor.