The Summer Classics Institute is a week-long opportunity for secondary school teachers, community college faculty, and the general public, to study the classics with renowned scholars, earn Professional Teaching Standards Board (PTSB) credit, and make new friends who are interested in studying the history and literature that forms the basis for most western thought.
Wyoming Humanities Council 15th Summer Classics Institute 2014
June 15-20, 2014, Laramie Wyoming
The Emperor and the Philosopher: Nero, Seneca, and Their World
The reign of Nero (A.D. 54-68) has gone down in history as a time of lurid palace intrigues, a paranoid emperor who freely put his enemies to death, and heroic resistence to imperial power by a valiant few—particularly Stoics, who needed their stiff-upper-lip philosophy to face the emperor’s deadly caprices; and Christians, who never forgot that Nero was the first of a long line of Roman persecutors of their faith. Yet despite dysfunctions at the top, it was also an age of power and prosperity throughout the empire (somebody was doing something right), with some strange and new literary developments, along with religious and philosophical ferment. Gracious (and some not-so-gracious) living flourished in Pompeii, wiped out by the famous eruption of Vesuvius not long after the death of Nero. This year’s institute will explore all these developments, and more, with an experienced and distinguished team of faculty.
As usual, the daily seminar will focus on reading and discussion of major literary works from the period. This year, readings will be taken from the philosophical works of Seneca, a Stoic philosopher who was also a close aide and confidant of the young Nero early in his reign, an author of blood-and-thunder tragedies, and ultimately (in the eyes of some) martyred by imperial caprice.
Mini-courses and lectures are interwoven around the central piece and will explore various works and aspects of the period. Participation in the institute provides participants with additional exposure to works and available materials, expand access to new methodology for engaging students with the material, improve discussion skills and sharpen critical thinking abilities through interactions with fellow participants and institute faculty. ultimately (in the eyes of some) martyred by imperial caprice.society. The institute will focus on the reign of Nero (A.D. 54-68) which has gone down in history as a time of lurid palace intrigues, a paranoid emperor who freely put his enemies to death, and heroic resistance to imperial power by a valiant few—particularly Stoics, who needed their stiff-upper-lip philosophy to face the emperor’s deadly caprices, and Christians, who never forgot that Nero was the first of a long line of Roman persecutors of their faith. Yet despite dysfunctions at the top, it was also an age of power and prosperity throughout the empire (somebody was doing something right), with some strange and new literary developments, along with religious and philosophical ferment. Gracious (and some not-so-gracious) living flourished in Pompeii, wiped out by the famous eruption of Vesuvius after the death of Nero. This year’s institute will explore all these developments, and more, with an experienced and distinguished team of faculty. The institute will include four mini-courses, (each participant will select two courses to attend) a daily seminar for group discussions and a daily public lecture series.
The institute provides participants with a concentrated learning environment. Breakfast and lunch are eaten by faculty and participants together with discussion of a central theme or question selected by participants each day.
This institute which includes five free public lectures, five daily seminars, and a choice of two daily mini-courses is open to the public and will feature our usual mix of literary, social, and archaeological topics. The registration fee for full participation is $130 without housing and $290 with dormitory housing. Teachers may earn 2 PTSB credits for full participation (there is an additional $10 fee for PTSB credit). Registration is limited to 30. Please note the public lectures begin Sunday June 15 at 7 p.m. Public Lectures on Monday thru Thursday have been moved to 4 p.m. Registration OPEN – click here to register.
The text for the daily seminar is The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca, ed. and trans. by Moses Hadas (Norton; ISBN 9780393004597)–the fullest selection of Seneca’s philosophical works in English.
Monday thru Friday 7:30 – 8:15 a.m.
Catered breakfast with faculty – Discussion
Cooper House/American Studies, 15th and Grand
Mini-Courses – Participants select one per time slot:
9:00 – 10:30 a.m. & 1:45 – 3:15 Monday – Thursday
Tyrants and Dissenters: The Oppressive Reign of Nero and its Historians, with Kurt Raaflaub
Nero’s reign is best known from Tacitus’ Annals and Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars. Both these authors were young at the time of Nero but experienced another tyrant on the imperial throne, Domitian (reigned AD 81-96). They were later free to express their opinions under the rule of a series of “good emperors,” Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian (reigned 96-138). We thus have ample evidence about how Roman historians and politicians viewed tyrannical emperors, how they (and their contemporaries) were affected by such oppressive regimes, and how they explained what what was happening. In many ways, the experiences these texts describe are comparable to those of citizens living and suffering under 20th-century totalitarian regimes. This course will focus on Tacitus’ account of Nero’s reign, but we will use selections from other works to enhance our understanding of both tyranny in Rome and how Romans coped with it.
Book: Tacitus, Annals, trans. Cynthia Damon (Penguin; ISBN 9780140455649).
Exploring Life through Death: Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 C.E., with Deborah Sneed
August, 79 C.E. The inhabitants of the towns surrounding Mt. Vesuvius in the region of Italy called Campania were forced from their homes. Over the course of several days the volcano erupted, destroying houses and temples and killing hundreds of people. Catastrophic, yes, the eruption preserved the towns in the region, including Pompeii and Herculaneum, which thus contain excellent evidence for life in a Roman colony in the 1st century C.E. In this mini-course, we will look at the archaeological remains from Pompeii and Herculaneum and explore what remains that might allow us to reconstruct the lives of the towns’ inhabitants: where and how they lived, how they decorated their homes, what they ate, their jobs, what they did in their leisure time, and where they worshiped, all with a view toward achieving a well-rounded understanding of life in a town in the Roman Empire outside of Rome.
Book: Mary Beard, The fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii lost and found (Harvard; ISBN 9780674045866)
Pagans and Christians (and Lions, Oh My!), with Philip Holt
This course will explore early Christianity in its broader social and religious context. From its beginnings as a small sect or movement within Judaism, Christianity “went global” in a few short decades, spread by missionary work and a vision of the Gospel which accommodated gentiles as well as Jews. But it was not the only Eastern religion that spread in the empire. Other movements, too, attracted people who wanted escape from the world and its troubles, help with living in a hostile universe, personal salvation, and a better state in the afterlife. Christianity caught on because it could speak to the spiritual needs and aspirations of its times. We will also look at Roman state religion and official Roman responses to the new faith, where competing tendencies towards tolerance and fear resulted in some long periods of “lions-off” policies, and some severe crackdowns and persecutions.
Book: The Christians as the Romans Saw Them, 2nd ed., Wilken , Robert L. (Yale; ISBN 9780300098396)
Decadence, Dissidence, and the Literature of Neronian Rome, with Lorenzo Garcia
Under authoritarian regimes, dissidents are in constant danger and must disguise their true feelings and perhaps even compromise their values in order to survive. Any criticism must be well hidden, and an author’s language must become coded and polyvalent. At the same time, the constant fear of detection and death can lead to a kind of moral degeneracy. The literature of Nero’s Rome provides us with an opportunity to study this curious mix of decadence and dissidence in its lavish displays of depravity through the writings of Seneca and Titus Petronius Niger—both members of Nero’s inner circle, and very much men of their time. In this mini-course we will read two of Seneca’s most famous tragedies and a political farce, along with Petronius’ fragmentary novel, with an eye toward understanding these works within their historical and cultural context.
Book: The Satyricon and The Apocolocyntosis of the Divine Claudius, translated by J. P. Sullivan (Penguin; ISBN 978-0140444896).
Two tragedies by Seneca (Thyestes and Phaedra) will also be assigned. Electronic files of these will be on line, with hardcopy available for those who request it.
10:45 – 12:15 a.m. Daily Seminar Faculty and participants
Business (on Ivinson) Room 208
12:30-1:30 Catered lunch with faculty – Discussion
Cooper House/American Studies, 15th and Grand
FRIDAY 8:30-10:00 a.m. Seminar conclusion
Business Room 208
FREE PUBLIC LECTURES – UW Law College
“Nero, Seneca, and a Cast of Thousands: An Overview of the Age of Nero.”
Sunday June 15, 7 p.m. UW Law College
“The Truth about Tyranny: Tacitus and the Historian’s Responsibility in Imperial Rome.”
Monday June 16, 4 p.m. UW Law College
“Troubled Waters: Navigating Class and Gender in Petronius’ Satyrica.”
Tuesday June 17, 4 p.m. UW Law College
.“Quo Vadis” (1951), Movie night,
An epic tale involving two institute themes,
decadence and Christianity, plus Peter Ustinov as Nero.
(Historic accuracy not guaranteed.)
Wednesday June 18, 4 p.m. UW Law College
“Frozen in Time? Activity at Pompeii During and After the Eruption”.
Thursday June 19, 4 p.m. UW Law College.
Philip Holt Professor and Department Head Latin, Classics, Greek
University of Wyoming Modern and Classical Languages
B.A., St. Johns College, 1969; Ph.D., Stanford University, 1976
This is Professor Holt’s 15th year serving as academic coordinator for the Wyoming Humanities Council’s Summer Classics Institute. He has won the Ellbogen Award for Meritorious Classroom Teaching, UW, 2003; American Philological Association College Teaching Award, 2005. Dr. Holt’s
research interests include Greek literature (especially tragedy) and religion (especially hero cult), mythology and early history. Phil’s articles have appeared in Journal of Hellenic Studies, American Journal of Philology, Classical Journal, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies, Mnemosyne, Science-Fiction Studies, and other journals. He teaches courses on Classical Civilization, including Greek Civilization, Greek Tragedy, Classical Epic Poetry, Athenian Democracy at the University of Wyoming.
Kurt Raaflaub Emeritus Professor of Classics and History, Brown University.
Dr. Raaflaub received his Ph.D. in 1970 from the University of Basel, Switzerland. He served as Associate Professor at the Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany from 1972-78 and then moved to Brown University in Providence Rhode Island as an Associate Professor in 1978 where he stayed to become a Full Professor. Kurt served as chair of the Brown Department of Classics from 1984 to 1989 then served as the John Rowe Workman Distinguished Professor of Classics and the Classical Tradition from 1989 to 1992. He served as Co-Director (with Deborah Boedeker), of the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. (1992-2000). Kurt’s studies the social and political history of the Roman republic; the social, political, and intellectual history of archaic and classical Greece; and the comparative history of the ancient world. His research has focused on the society and politics of Homer’s epics, on the origins and workings of Athenian democracy, on war and peace in the ancient world, on the purpose of writing history in Greece and Rome, and on the origin and function of Greek political thinking. Dr. Raaflaub’s next major research project will focus on early Greek political thinking in a Mediterranean context. A new course on “Writing History in the Ancient World” (focusing on Greece and Rome but comprising a broad comparative component) was combined in 2005 with a lecture series on the same topic organized by the Program in Ancient Studies, of which Raaflaub is the director. Another new course, on Geography, Ethnography, and Perspectives of the World in Antiquity was combined with a large conference on the same topic in the spring of 2006, organized by Ancient Studies and co-sponsored by a wide range of academic programs. Finally, together with his colleagues in ancient history, Raaflaub has designed a new interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in ancient history that is expected to be initiated next year.
The Discovery of Freedom in Ancient Greece (Chicago: University Press, 2004), for which Raaflaub received the American Historical Association’s James Henry Breasted Prize. Several other research projects (on the origins of democracy in ancient Greece, on war and peace in the ancient world, on archaic Greece) are close to completion.
Lorenzo Garcia, Jr., Associate Professor of Classics, University of New Mexico.
B.A., in Liberal Arts, St. John’s College, Santa Fe, NM, 1996; M.A., in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, 2000; M.A., in Classics, University of California, Los Angeles, 2002; . Ph.D., in Classics, University of California, Los Angeles, 2007.
Dr. Garcia won the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005–2006 and his research work includes Homer. This will be Associate Professor Garcia’s 5 year participating in the Wyoming Humanities Council’s Summer Classics Institute. He previously taught mini-courses on Greek Lyric poetry, Euripides, Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns, and Aristophanes in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013.
Lorenzo’s research Interests include the Homeric Epic, Early Greek Poetics, Mythology, Narratology, and Film Theory. He teaches; Ancient Greek Civilization, Homeric Cinematography, Homer, Hesiod, and the Near East, 2 – Advanced Greek (Homer, Herodotus, Euripides, Plato, Isocrates), and Advanced Latin (Catullus, Ovid, Pliny the Younger, Petronius, Apuleius).
Deborah A. Sneed, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA
Deborah is a Wyoming native who earned her B.A. English, History, University of Wyoming in 2009 and an M.A., Classics (Classical Archaeology) from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2013. Deborah is currently working toward her PhD at UCLA.
Ms. Sneed’s research interests include domestic religion, religious festivals, foreign cults in Greece and Rome, household space, Greek architecture, and disability in the ancient Greek world This is Deborah’s 2nd year at the Summer Classics Institute. She taught, “The Archaeology of Athens,” mini-course in 2013 before returning to Greece where she has had extensive archaeological field experience. Deborah teachers Beginning Latin I and II, Roman Art and Architecture, Pompeii and the Cities of Vesuvius, The Rise and Fall of Rome, and “The Archaeology of Athens,” mini-course 2013 Summer Classics Institute.