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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "CL/RL 288"
COURSE NAME: "Religion in the Graeco-Roman World"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2019
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Benedetta Bessi
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 1:30-2:45 PM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES:
OFFICE HOURS:

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
This course is a survey of the elements of traditional religion in the Graeco-Roman world. It is designed to introduce students to the tenets, beliefs, and spiritual practices of classical antiquity and to familiarize them with the social, cultural and political background surrounding ancient religion. Among the topics covered are the range of religious expressions in Greece and Rome, including the approach to the divine, ritual practices, and the organization of time and space. While the first part of the course is dedicated to Greece, in the second half we will concentrate on Roman religion both as a phenomenon in and of itself and as a factor integrated in the socio-political organization of the empire.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

The first part of the semester is dedicated to the Greek world and includes the discussion of Greek ritual space behavior, the relationship between myth and cult, the nature of deities (gods and heroes) as well as the role of religion within the community, the family and the individual life. Specific case studies investigated and presented by the students are: the cult of Apollo at Delphi, the cult of Athena at Athens, the cult of Zeus at Olympia, the cult of Demeter at Eleusis, the cult of Dionysos and the origins of theatre, the cult of Asklepios and the birth of medicine and  the Orphic-Pythagorean religion.

The second part of the semester will investigate the Roman world and in addition to a comparison/contrast approach with its counterpart to better understand the peculiarities of both religious phenomenons, we'll cover aspects connected to the Roman ritual, the organization of religious time (calendar) and the role of priests and priestesses in Roman society and politics. For this section, selected topics include the cult of the Capitoline Triad, the cult of Vesta and the Vestal Virgins, the cult of Saturn and Saturnalia, the cult of the Magna Mater, the cult of the Egyptian goddess Isis, the cult of the Persian god Mithras.

At the end of the class, we will also introduce the rise of Christianity and its role in bringing to an end the polytheistic religion the ancient world had been familiar with for thousand years.



LEARNING OUTCOMES:
 By the end of this course, students will be able:
-to identify and describe the main Greek and Roman deities, their cults and sanctuaries.
-to discuss the most relevant aspects of ancient politheism as manifested in the Greek and Roman antiquity.
-to frame ancient religious behaviours and beliefs within the social, cultural and political background of the Graeco-Roman world.
- to compare and contrast ancient politheistic traditions with modern monotheistic religions.

Other transferable skills include:
-analytical and critical skills
- oral communication and public speaking
- bibliographic research skills
- academic writing skills

TEXTBOOK:
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Ancient Greek ReligionJ.D. Mikalson Wiley Blackwell 978-1405181778  
An Introduction to ROman Religion J. ScheidIndiana University Press9780253216601  
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
in class presentation group or individual presentation in class15%
midterm paper1500 word essay with Chicago notes and bibliography20%
Final exam open questions and final cumulative essay30%
Attendance and participation  15%
in class quizzes 20%

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
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.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:
This course is a survey of the elements of traditional religion in the Graeco-Roman world. It is designed to introduce students to the tenets, beliefs, and spiritual practices of classical antiquity and to familiarize them with the social, cultural and political background surrounding ancient religion. Among the topics covered are the range of religious expressions in Greece and Rome, including the approach to the divine, ritual practices, and the organization of time and space. While the first part of the course is dedicated to Greece, in the second half we will concentrate on Roman religion both as a phenomenon in and of itself and as a factor integrated in the socio-political organization of the empire.
ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE

WEEK 1 
Introduction of course and course material. 

 Intro. Identifying Ancient Religion
Ritual Space and the Space of Ritual in ancient Greece
Mikalson ch. 1


WEEK 2
Greek religion and mythology
Mikalson ch. 3

Greek cultual practices
Mikalson ch. 4

WEEK 3
Religion in the Greek family
Mikalson ch. 5

Role play on the previous material. 

WEEK 4
 Religion in the Greek city state
Mikalson ch. 6

Religion and the individual
Mikalson ch. 7

 


 WEEK 5  
The cult of Athena at Athens 

The cult of Apollo at Delphi

WEEK 6
The cult of Demeter et Kore at Eleusis


The cult of Zeus at Olympia


WEEK 7
Oct 9
Midterm review

Oct 11 Midterm paper presentation

WEEK 8
Problems and definitions of Roman religion
Scheid ch. 1-2 


Roman rituals
Scheid ch. 3

WEEK 9
The division of time and space
Scheid ch. 4-5


 The Actors of Roman religion I: priests and priestessess
Scheid ch. 6-7

WEEK 10
The Actors of Roman religion II: the gods
Scheid ch. 8  

Nov 1 NO CLASS


WEEK 11
 Interpretations of Roman religion
Scheid ch. 9 


The cult of Jupiter Optimus Maximus and the Capitoline Games
The cult of Vesta and the Vestal Virgins 


WEEK 12
The cult of  Saturn and the Saturnalia

Nov 15 The cult of Isis


WEEK 13
The cult of Mithras

Roman religion in the Provinces: the case of North Africa

B. Shaw, Cult and Belief in Punic and Roman North Africa (available online)


WEEK 14
 
The rise and triumph of Christianity
Selected readings

Wrap up session and final review