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    Vassar College
  Nov 24, 2017
Catalogue 2017-2018
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GRST 301 - Seminar in Classical Civilization

Semester Offered: Fall
1 unit(s)
Topic for 2017/18a: Slavery and Violence in Ancient Greece and Rome. Slavery was ubiquitous in ancient Greece and Rome. Without enslaved peoples the Athenians would not have built the Parthenon, created “democracy,” and dominated the Mediterranean. Famous Roman writers and statesmen such as Cicero, Tacitus, and Marcus Aurelius would not have had the leisure or resources to write and publish the texts that we know as classics today. But slaves were subjected to a harsh, restricted, and dominated existence, despite the romanticization of slavery that we see in Roman Comedy and the fantasy of emancipation in elite narratives of ancient slavery. Seen as the property of their owners, enslaved people, men and women alike, were particularly at risk for physical and sexual violence. They were theorized as sub-human entities who did not have the right to bodily autonomy or state-recognized family relationships. In this course, we look at the history of slavery in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, giving particular attention to the disconnect between philosophies about slaves and slavery articulated by elite writers and the lived realities of slavery as accessed through written, epigraphical, and visual evidence. We  look at how modern scholars have understood ancient Mediterranean slavery within the broader history of slavery in the world and look at the most up-to-date studies on ancient slavery. Primary readings in English translation are selected from a wide range of Greek and Roman authors including Lysias, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Plautus, Cicero, Livy, Pliny, Tacitus, Galen, and Roman legal writers, among others. Tara Mulder.

Prerequisite(s): previous course work in Greek and Roman Studies or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

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