Honors | Ideas & Experience I
H211 | 17528 | Jack Rollins

TuTh 1:00-2:15pm

This section satisfies the Intensive Writing Requirement.

Kierkegaard once remarked that we live our lives in the present but
understand them only in the past. Could this casual observation,
more generally, also be the reason why we might want to study the
history of how our culture evolved, that is, to understand more
about ourselves?  Could a study of the particular transmission of
the Greco-Roman civilization into the Western world actually tell us
something about ourselves in Bloomington in 2003?  And what is it
about these particular books specifically that seem to resonate such
a rare greatness that is visionary, prophetic, and even
transformative to us in the West?
This class will begin with a discussion of the idea of culture and
then read, discuss, and write critically about selected works in the
Greco-Roman world to learn how each demonstrated something visionary
and transformative about their respective cultures that we have, in
turn, seen valuable enough to make a part of our own culture.
Throughout the semester--during our discussion of these works--I
will ask students where their own sensibilities seem to fall:  to
the intellectual tradition of the Greeks or to the Romans. Then at
the end of the semester, we will choose up sides (Greeks and Romans)
and have it out in a series of practical and intellectual challenges
(somewhat like the TV series “The Survivors”) which will takes us to
different campus venues, including the Art Museum, trying to show
how (in Hamlet) Horatio’s claim that “I am more an antique Roman
than a Dane,” might be recast as “I am more antique Roman (or Greek)
than Greek (or Roman). Finally, you will asked to explain, with
copious examples from the reading list, class discussions—both in
and outside the classroom—why you are more an “antique Roman or

We will write a series of short papers. There are no tests.

Aristotle, Poetics
Cicero, On the Good Life
Homer, Odyssey
Ovid, The Heroides
Plato, The Republic
Sophocles, Antigone
Virgil, The Aeneid