Colgate University

First-Year Course Offerings — Fall 2022

CORE 151   Legacies of the Ancient World
RestrictionsNo 2024 2023
Core AreaLegacies of Ancient World

Fall 2022 Theme: NATURE - In this section, our readings focus on questions about the natural order and diverse approaches to it in some of the literatures of the ancient world. In particular, we study the emergence of an explicit concept of nature in ancient Greek literature (Greek physis, translated into Latin as natura), its revolutionary transformations in antiquity, and its legacy in the modern world; but we'll also explore other traditions as exemplified by the Hebrew Bible, the Tao Te Ching, and other texts. Some of the questions we consider are: What is “nature”? Is it compatible with the divine? How are numbers related to “nature”? What is the relationship between human “nature” and “nature” as a whole, and between culture and “nature”? Finally, are any of the legacies of the ancient conceptions of nature worth embracing?

Catalog description:
Explores ancient texts that articulate perennial issues, such as the nature of the human and the divine; virtue and the good life; the true, the just, and the beautiful; the difference between subjective opinion and objective knowledge. These texts exemplify basic modes of speech, literary forms, and patterns of thinking that establish the terminology of academic and intellectual discourse and critical thought across many different societies: epic, rhetoric, tragedy, poetry, epistemology, science, democracy, rationality, the soul, spirit, law, grace. Such terms have shaped the patterns of life, norms, and prejudices that human communities have continually challenged, criticized, and refashioned throughout history. To highlight both the dialogue and conflicts between the texts and the traditions they embody, this course, taught by a multidisciplinary staff and in an interdisciplinary manner, focuses on both the historical contexts of these texts and the ongoing retellings and reinterpretations of them through time. The course includes texts from the ancient Mediterranean world that have given rise to some of the philosophical, political, religious, and artistic traditions associated with “The West,” emphasizing that Western traditions were not formed in a vacuum but developed in dialogue and conflict with other traditions. Common to all sections of this component are classic works such as Homer, the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, Plato, and a Roman text. Complementary texts or visual materials from the ancient period, in and beyond the Western world, and/or response texts from the medieval or contemporary periods are added by faculty in individual sections.