Classics 303: Greek Intellectual History
176 Education; MWF 12.00-12.50
PLC 347 (346-4155; mwilson@oregon); Office Hours: MW 10.00-11.50
Aims of the Course:
We will be studying the intellectual history of Greece
from before the time of Hesiod to Plato (d. 347 B.C). Although this is only a
small portion of the Greek achievement, it was during this time that many of
the main currents and problems of the ancient thought and philosophy were
set in lasting form. This is not a course on the Presocratic philosophers
only, although they will figure largely. Our attention will be directed to
theory and speculation about man and the cosmos using literary, historical,
medical and philosophical texts. We shall see a number of major themes develop
through the period: the concern for understanding the universe in orderly
terms and man's place in the cosmos, the limits of human knowledge and the
possibility of understanding.
Class Arrangements and Evaluation:
There will be a combination of
lecture and discussion in this course. I shall expect the students to
have read the material assigned and be prepared to comment on it in class.
I shall try to provide outlines of my lecture and discussion notes on the
World Wide Web in advance of the class. There will be a midterm exam
(30%) on May 8 and a final exam (40%) (involving identification, short
answer and essay questions) and a final paper (about 8 pages) (30%).
Papers are due on time (May 26). Late papers will be
graded down each day late (e.g. one day late will make an A paper
an A- paper). I have provided a "style sheet" in the handout binder listing
the most common mistakes students make in paper writing. Please consult it.
I shall return ungraded any paper which contains more than five technical
- M. I. Finley, Portable Greek Historians, (Viking Penguin). (PGH)
- Richard D. McKirahan, Jr., Philosophy before Socrates (Hackett).
- Plato, Great Dialogues, trans. Rouse (Mentor) (Plato)
- photocopy material on reserve at Knight Library (Reserve)
I have also put books on reserve. A list of these books and their call
numbers can be found in the photocopy material on reserve.
- Week 1 (read: McKirahan, pp. 7-19; Near Eastern Creation Myths
- March 27: Introduction; Aims of Course; Syllabus
- March 29: Near Eastern neighbors of the Greeks, Eastern
Mediterranean trade and mutual influence
- March 31: Discussion of Near Eastern material; Hesiod; Cosmic myth;
mythic explanation; theurgy and magic
- Week 2 (read: Homer, Iliad I.1-311 (Reserve). Homer, Odyssey
(Reserve). Orphic Cosmology (Reserve) Material on Eleusian
(Reserve; Hymn to Demeter is optional reading). McKirahan, pp.
- April 3: Ethics in Homer: honor, excellence and the afterlife.
- April 5: Orphic Religions; mystery religions; fertility associations;
membership and community; Eleusis; wisdom literature and arete
- April 7: Milesian Philosophers (Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes)
- Week 3: (read: Herodotus, Book II (PGH, pp. 63-74) McKirahan, pp.
- April 10: Ionian historia: Aristaeus, Hekataeus; Herodotus
- April 12: Pythagoreans; early mathematics
- April 14: Heraclitus of Ephesus: the beginnings of the one and the
- Week 4: (read: McKirahan: pp. 151-195)
- April 17: Parmenides of Elea
- April 19: Parmenides con't
- April 21: Zeno
- Week 5: (read: McKirahan, pp. 196-291; 303-344)
- April 24: Atomism and its precursors: Anaxagoras
- April 26 Empedocles
- April 28: Democritus and Leucippus
- Week 6: (McKirahan, pp. 353-413. Thucydides: Archeology (Bk.
1.1-22; PGH, pp. 218-231), Pericles' Speech, Mytilenian debate, Corcyrian
stasis, Melian dialogue (PGH, pp 265-298.) Plato, Protagoras.
- May 1: Greek Political Theory before Plato: Sophists, nomos/physis
- May 3: Thucydides: Sophistic political science
- May 5: Gorgias; Dissoi Logoi
- Week 7: (read: Corpus Hippocraticum, Oath, On Ancient Medicine, On
(Reserve). Aristophanes, Clouds 1-384 (Reserve))
- May 8: Midterm
- May 10: Medical Writers: criticism of the hypothetical method
- May 12: Socrates: continuity in the new project; view of science in
- Week 8: (read: Plato, Crito, Meno, Phaedo)
- May 15: Socratic elenchos
- May 17: Meno and the new math
- May 19: Theory of Forms put to work
- Week 9: (read: Plato, Republic I, IV-VII)
- May 22: The Thrasymachus
- May 24: The soul and the state
- May 26: Education of the Philosopher PAPER DUE
- Week 10: (read: Plato, Timaeus; Parmenides (Reserve))
- May 29: Memorial Day
- May 31: The Final Cause
- June 2: Criticism of the Forms