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C LIT 360 B: Topics in Ancient and Medieval Literature

Meeting Time: 
MWF 9:30am - 10:20am
SMI 115
Joint Sections: 
CLAS 435 A
Catherine M Connors

Syllabus Description:

Clas 435/C Lit 360 B:
The Ancient Greek and Roman Novel 

I am looking forward to working with everyone in Winter term. In accordance with UW policy class will be offered on zoom for the first week.

Join us here:  URL

If you are registered for the course you should be able to see course materials (some still under construction) on the Modules section of the canvas page. 

Ancient Greek Mosaic. Woman on the left glancing toward man on the right.
 VLPA; optional W credit available. 
Please note that this course is cross-listed as Clas 435: The Ancient Novel and C Lit 360 B: Topics in Ancient and Medieval Literature
Clas 435 will be 3 credits

C LIT 360 B will be 5 credits. Those who register for C Lit 360 B will receive 5 credits and be assigned two credits worth of extra reading and writing (no extra required class meetings or textbooks). 

There are only a few seats initially set aside for Comp Lit 360. If more students than that want the 5 credits, please contact the instructor at to obtain an add code.  

Instructor: Catherine Connors, Classics, Denny 262 B

The earliest prose fiction in the European tradition, these accessible and engaging 2000-year-old novels tell exciting stories of young love and adventure in a cosmopolitan and unpredictable world. Reading and discussing them offers unexpected and intimate perspectives on ancient Greek and Roman experiences of desire, resilience and religious belief. 
Along the way, assignments will focus on using and strengthening skills in close reading, research, presentation and writing that will serve you well wherever you go from here. Questions to be considered will include how the novels represent society: do they replicate or undermine the beliefs that structure Greek and Roman systems of class and gender inequity? The characters in the novels move through worlds of many different cultures: how do the novels capture the experience of diversity in the Greek and Roman worlds? How do the novels investigate the process of communication across cultural divides? To what extent could the ancient novels invite their ancient audiences to reflect upon or critique the structures of power that they inhabited?

Required Texts (available at the University Bookstore)

Greek Fiction: Callirhoe, Daphnis and Chloe, Letters of Chion Ed. Helen Morales;

Achilles Tatius, Leucippe and Clitophon, trans. Tim Whitmarsh

Apuleius: The Golden Ass, trans. S. Ruden

Petronius: The Satyricon, trans. S. Ruden

Overview of the novels
Apuleius, The Golden Ass Set in the 100’s CE (AD). A man from Corinth gets a little too curious about witchcraft and for his trouble is turned into a donkey. He sees the seamy underbelly of life in Greece under Roman rule, and is eventually redeemed and transformed back into a man. What exactly did he learn? Raises interesting questions about the range of religious experiences in Greek and Roman life and provides an unusually detailed look at the lives of the lowest socio-economic classes.

Petronius, The Satyricon A racy parody of the love and travel themes of the ancient novels. Full of fascinating and strange details about life in Rome, the relationship between past and present, art and life, those in power and those who must submit to them. Is Petronius commenting on the decadence of the emperor Nero’s court?

Longus, Daphnis and Chloe. This boy meets girl story takes place on the island of Lesbos, (home to the Greek lyric poet Sappho, whose verses on love are some of the most powerful in the European tradition). Longus explores the themes of city and country, art and nature, eroticism and gender, in a lushly imagined rural setting. But the city is never totally out of the picture: is Longus’ novel an escapist fantasy, or a prescription for the proper approach to civic life? A lyrical celebration of love, with an awareness of its costs.

Achilles Tatius, Leukippe and Clitophon This boy meets girl story presents itself as a fictional exploration of big questions the Greek philosopher Plato liked to ask about love and knowledge. Does Achilles’s story of love (and pirates) challenge Plato’s approaches to love, marriage, and identity?

Catalog Description: 
Explores topics in literature and cultures of the ancient and medieval worlds across national and regional cultures, such as particular movements, authors, genres, themes, or problems.
Department Requirements Met: 
Literature Core
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 12, 2021 - 10:22pm