Race, Identity and Representation in Guianas 2010
Travel Dates: April 25-May 20
Instructors: Frank S. Russell, Peter S. Fosl
Number of Students Enrolled: tba
Location: Greece

Course Description

In wandering through Greece in the second century CE, Pausanias came to a small settlement which he hesitated to call a polis, since it encompassed 'no government offices or gymnasium, no theater or agora or fountain-house' (Paus. 10.4.1). Yet, as Pausanias knew, a polis was more than the sum of such parts. Through visiting relevant sites and texts, we will attempt to establish a more specific and relevant description of the conceptual and physical development of the polis.

From the sites we will obtain a sense of the physical composition and design of the polis, and the significance of its change over time. Of concern are the location and architectural embodiment of civic cult, burials, public buildings, logistic infrastructure, commercial and industrial areas, and recreational facilities. Professor Russell will lecture on these dimensions of the course. Along the way, we will read texts of ancient literature and philosophy to illuminate the changing ideas of the subject/citizen, the law, individuals, and the relationship of the divine to the political. Professor Fosl will lead the course through this terrain. Our attempt will be to synthesize these different elements into a more thorough and comprehensive grasp of the polis. A common theme of the journey will be scrutiny of the question of what constitutes the good life and the distinctive manner in which the polis attempted to realize it.

Why a travel course?

One of the greatest challenges in teaching the rich legacy of the ancients is communicating the relevance of a world so distant in time and space. The most effective way to bridge this distance is personal contact with the material elements of that world. It is far more meaningful to discuss Socrates' belief that the laws of the polis trump the fate of the individual when the words of the discussants echo from the very walls that enclosed the philosopher as he sat, talking with his friends, awaiting his final draught. The impact of devotion to a civic ideal is more keenly felt when one reads Herodotus' account of the final stand of the Spartans on the very knoll where their broken bones still lie, obedient to the Rhetra. Such experiences continue to haunt the mind and soul long after we strangers have returned from Lacedaemon, and communicate meaning far more effectively than the dry dust of chalk.

Our approach, then, will be more than interdisciplinary. It will be inter-textual in the broadest sense. Our texts will be not only the translated writings of the ancients and the lectures and handouts of professors. They will be the very stones, geometries, and lived-in spaces of the poleis. Teaching and learning in such a way produces an inter-disciplinary and inter-textual experience much deeper and more sophisticated than that of the classroom.


Steinberger, P.J. Readings in Classical Greek Political Thought. Hackett, 2000.

Handouts, including readings and site plans

Evaluation Criteria

Participation 20%
Journal 20%
Museum and site assignments 20%
Essay 40%

Take some site that we've addressed and describe how the architectural features are indicative of the type of polis it is. Show how these ideas are reflected in the literature and philosophy. What vision of the good life is expressed in the ancient sites we visited and the literature related to them?

Schedule of Topics and Events

25 F Een route Depart Cincinnati, Air France 8701, for Paris
26 Sat Athens Arrival at Athens airport, 2 pm (1400)
27 Sun Athens Greek Easter (everything closed): rest and orientation
Read: Plato Republic (pp. 229-246)
28 M Santorini City bus to airport, flight to Santorini, taxis to hotel
29 T Santorini a.m.: Cycladic city: Akrotiri; museum (esp. frescoes), by local bus
Read: Plato, Critias (Atlantis myth)
30 W Santorini a.m.: Hellenistic polis: Archaia Thira
Read: Aristotle Politics excerpt (pp. 377-384)
1 Th Santorini National holiday (all sites closed)
Archaic symposium: Solon, Theognis (pp. 14-16)
2 F Athens Taxi to airport, flight to Athens, city bus to hotel
p.m.: Mt. Lykavettos: overview of Athens
3 Sat Athens a.m.: Athenian agora, pnyx: round II of the trial of Socrates (in situ!)
Read: Plato, Apology and Crito (pp. 147-66); Pericles “Funeral Oration,” plague, and last speech (39-47)
p.m.: Athenian acropolis and acropolis museum
4 Sun Nauplio Chartered bus to Nauplio via Roman Corinth (site and museum)
Read: Selections from Paul’s letters to the Ephesians, Corinthians
5 M Nauplio a.m.: Tiryns, Mycenae (sites)
p.m.: Optional hike up the Palamidi
Rread: Homer excerpts (pp. 4-9); Aeschylus Agamemnon selection
6 T Sparta a.m.: Nauplio museum (esp. Dendra panoply)
Epidauros (site and museum)
Read: selection from Sophocles Antigone (handout)
p.m.: Bus to Sparta; late afternoon at the Spartan acropolis
Read: Tyrtaeus 2, 4 (p. 13), Aristotle Politics (pp. 384-393)
7 W Pilos Dawn: sanctuary of Artemis Orthia
Read: Alcman (in situ)
a.m.: Mistra (site)
Read: Augustine City of God 1,2,3,4, and 14
p.m.: Drive to Pilos
8 Th Olympia a.m.: Palace of Nestor
Read: inscription (Ventris & Chadwick, photocopy)
Drive to Olympia
p.m.: Olympia [site and pedimental sculpture (if museum wing open)]
Read: Nietzsche, Apollonian and Dionysian characters from The Birth of Tragedy (handout).
9 F Delphi a.m.: Drive to Delphi
p.m.: Sanctuary of Delphi
Read: Homeric Hymn to Apollo (photocopy); Thomas Mann, from Death in Venice
10 Sat Kastraki (history)
Athens (philosophy)
a.m.: Delphi museum in the morning (history and philosophy?)
p.m.: History group drives by chartered bus to Kastraki, philosophy group drives by Public inter-city bus to Athens
11 Sun Litochoro a.m.: Meteora monasteries (history group)
Read: Augustine City of God excerpts
a.m.: Philosophy group (Fosl) departs 6.50 a.m. for Paris
p.m.: Drive to Litochoro
12 M Litochoro Optional climb up Mt. Olympus
13 T Litochoro a.m.: Dion (late morning), site and museum
p.m.: Vergina and Pella (sites, tomb, and museums)
Read: Isocrates, Letter to Philip (photocopy), Aristotle Politics (pp. 410-417)
14 W Kavala a.m.: Bus to Thessaloniki, Archeological Museum
p.m.: Bus to Kavala
15 Th Kavala Excursion to Thasos by ferry
16 F Volos a.m.: Drive to Volos
17 Sat Athens a.m.: Demetrias (site and museum)
Read: Plutarch, excerpts from the Life of Flamininus (photocopy)
p.m.: Drive to Athens, with short stop at Thermopylae
Read: Herodotus excerpt (photocopy)
18 Sun Athens Free day
19 M Athens Excursion to Aegina: subway to Piraeus, ferry to island
Symposium under the pines at the Temple of Aphaia
Read: Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics excerpts (pp. 361-377)
20 T Lexington Depart 6.50 am Air France 2433 for Paris, thence home