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COURSE NAME: "Wine and the Culture of Drinking in Classical Antiquity"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Summer Session I 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Benedetta Bessi
EMAIL: bbessi@johncabot.edu
HOURS: MTWTH 11:10-1:00 PM

Using primary ancient sources (literary texts, artistic representations, and archaeological finds), this course will examine the role of wine drinking in ancient societies. Where and when did viticulture and wine making originate? Where did the custom of the reclining banquet come from, and what social implications did it carry? How was wine served and how was its consumption regulated? What type of entertainment was offered at these banquets? Our primary focus will be Greece and Rome, but important parallels or corollary practices in neighboring and modern cultures will also be considered.
The course will be organized in the form of lectures and class discussion.  Among the topics covered there will be: 

 The origins of viticulture and its introduction in the Mediterranean

 Wine and wine drinking in the Aegean societies and in the Homeric poems

The Oriental reclining banquet and its introduction in Greece (symposium)

 The symposium and Archaic society (private and public banquet

The symposium and entertainment (love, games, music, poetry)

The symposium as a journey in alterity (Greek vs. Barbarian, Male vs. Female, Life vs. Death)

The symposium and philosophy (Plato, Xenophon)

Wine and wine drinking as a religious experience (Dionysus and the religion of wine)

Wine and wine drinking in the Etruscan world (possible museum visit to Villa Giulia)

Wine and wine drinking in Roman culture (selection of readings from Horace, Martial, Petronius etc.)

 The economy of wine in the Roman world (wine production and trade)

Wine in other Mediterranean contexts (Judaism, Christianity, Islam)


 The overall goal of the course is to explore the importance of wine and wine drinking as a social shaping factor, a religious experience as well as an inspirational source for the poets and the intellectuals. A side goal will also be a comparison between ancient and modern social practices in order to engage the students in a critical reflection on wine drinking in present day societies and cultures.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The Aesthetic of the Greek Banquet F. Lissarague Princeton University Press 9780691604053  The book is also available as an Ebook.
The Roman Banquet: Images of Conviviality K. Dunbabin CUP 978-0521127301 No E-book available.
Sympotica: A Symposium on the Symposion O. MurrayOxford University Press 978-0198150046  No ebook available

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The Symposion: Drinking Greek Style O. Murray Oxford University Press9780198814627  This book could be useful for your research project
in class midterm The exam will consist in a combination of short answer questions and essay questions25%
research paper 1500 word research paper on a topic selected by the student to reflect her/his personal interests and academic background.15%
final exam The exam will consist in short answer questions and a final self reflection essay on the overall learning experience of the course and the the impact this material has made on the undestanding of the history of wine and the culture of drinking past and present. 305
in class presentation Each student will offer an oral report of about 20 minutes presenting the research conducted to complete her/his research paper. 15%
attendance and partecipation Full points assigned only to those students who, in addition to a regular attendance, participate actively to the course by coming prepared for class, engaging in discussions and contributing to the creation of a favourable learning and teaching environment. 15%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

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