Greek Historians as Literature (LIT4187.01)

Dan Hofstadter

Precisely where the accounts of the major Greek historians stand in relation to fact is a matter of massive, ongoing scholarly inquiry. However that may be, the works of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plutarch have always been regarded as brilliant contributions to literary art, albeit in different ways. Herodotus is a raconteur, venturing into the realm of folktale, fantasy, and homespun ethnography. Thucydides (whom we might call a journalist) reconstructs diplomatic overtures and public speeches, fashioning thereby not only a picture of the doubts and ethical quandaries of people in conflict but also a subtle portrait of himself. Plutarch, coming much later, studies character, notably in the case of Alcibiades, the intellectual general whose interests, or vanity, or ideals led him to switch sides in wartime. How is truth established in such accounts? Who is to be believed? How is a story-telling style maintained, and how does it help or undermine the writer’s authority? Influential texts by such authors as Sophocles and Plato will also be discussed, especially those bearing on clashes between the citizen and the state.

Prerequisites: Writing samples should be submitted by OCTOBER 30; class lists will be posted on NOVEMBER 4 on the Literature Bulletin Board on the 2nd floor of Barn. May also get a note from a faculty member.
Credits: 4
Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm; F 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency:
This course is categorized as All courses, Four Credit, Literature, 4000, Dan Hofstadter, and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .