Backgrounds to English Literature
Brother Anthony
Spring Semester 1999 Tues. Thurs. 12:00

This course is intended to help students discover Greek and Roman philosophy, history, mythology, art, and literature, and the Bible, so that they can appreciate them and also understand the ways in which these combine to form the background to Western culture.

Lectures and discussions will be in English. There will usually be a lecture on Tuesday; Thursday's class will often take the form of small-group discussions when students will present the results of their reading and research.

The main text book will be Brother Anthony's Classical and Biblical Backgrounds to Western Literature (Sogang University Press). Additional reading materials will be available in a separate xeroxed volume, Edith Hamilton's Mythology will also be useful, and an English Bible.

Week 1
Week 2 Illiad
Week 3 Odyssey and Myths
Week 4 Drama : The Oresteia, Oedipus, Antigone
Week 5 History of Athens (no class Thursday)
Week 6 Philosophers before Socrates
Week 7 Socrates, Plato, Aristotle
Week 8 Mid-term Exams
Week 9 History of the Roman Empire
Week 10 Roman writers : Virgil, Ovid
Week 11 The Old Testament
Week 12 The Old Testament
Week 13 The Gospels and Paul
Week 14 The early Church
Week 15 Christian writers (Final Exams begin Thursday)

Class preparation and discussion topics

 Week 2: Illiad: Book xxiv; Norton pages 88 - 92 (middle); 102 - 108 (top)
Topic for discussion What are the characteristic features of the gods in the first passage? In what sense are Priam and Achilles 'heroic'?

Week 3: Odyssey: Book ix, xxiii; Norton pages 132 -143; 163-167; 177-186.
Topic for discussion What is your response to the kind of adventures Odysseus undergoes? Is Odysseus heroic or comic or both? How do you interpret the way the reunited couple react at the end? (Thurs) Greek myths, gods, famous stories (Hamilton 'Lovers' Tales') Topic for discussion: What picture do these stories give of the gods and of human life?

Week 4: Drama: Anthony pages 37-41, 155-7. Norton: Oresteia.
Read the story of Oedipus and of Antigone in Hamilton.
Topic for discussion: How 'dramatic' are these plays? What is a 'tragedy'? What motivates the main characters? What message do the plays give? What picture do they give of the gods and of human life?

Week 5: Athens: Anthony pages 24-31, 41-45, 48-9.
Topic for discussion: What were the main steps in the development of Athenian democracy? Was it a good system, a limited one, a bad one? Compare Athens with Sparta: where would you rather have lived? Why? In what ways if any might today's Korean society learn from Athens?

Week 6: (Philosophy before Socrates) Anthony pages 32-37, 152-154.
Topic for discussion: What developments of the notion of god, cosmos, man do you find? How did philosophy develop toward science and theory?

Week 7: (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle) Anthony pages 36-58, 158-63. Norton pages 494-510
Topics for research and discussion: What were Socrates main concerns? What are the main ideas in the Phaedo, Symposium, Republic? In what main ways did Aristotle differ from Plato?

Research for first Scrapbook: Stonehenge, Babylon, Egyptian art, cuneiform writing, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Hebrew and Greek alphabets. Statues of the major gods, paintings inspired by Greek myths, statues of personifications...Greek theaters and drama; Greek sculpture before 480 BC, the Parthenon and its sculptures, other temples, a Grecian Urn, the "Venus de Milo". A map of ancient Athens. Busts of the great Greek philosophers and writers....

Week 8: Mid-term Exams
First Report: What are some of the main themes found in the works of Greek literature and philosophy we have seen? What attitude to life? To the gods? Which work have you found most worth reading? Why?

Week 9 -10 (Rome) Anthony pages 82-98, 164-172.
Topic for research & discussion How does Cicero's text on pages 164-6 challenge today's society? What do you think about his ideas? What are the main ideas of Stoicism, Cynicism, and Epicureanism?

Week 11 - 12: (Old Testament) Anthony pages 16-19, 51-55, 99-121 and 173-8.

Weeks 12 - 13: (New Testament) Read pages 122-131, 132-139, 180- 7.
Topic for discussion: What is meant by the words Apocalypse, eschaton, kerygma, ekklesia, anastasis, agape, koinonia? What did New Testament writers understand by Agape?

Week 14 - 15 (The Early Church) Read pages 140-9
Topic for discussion: How and why did Christianity become the official religion of the later Roman Empire? How was it changed in the process? Was it still true to the teaching of Jesus? Why were Augustine and Boethius so important?

Research for second Scrapbook: Rome: the Forum, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Senate House, the Capitol... Mt Sinai, Jerusalem in Old Testament times, the Temple, nomadic life in the Middle East, a Jewish synagogue, the Hebrew Bible, modern Judaism, the Holocaust... The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (and site of Calvary, in Jerusalem), the Mount of Olives, River Jordan... The great basilicas in Rome, the tomb of St Peter, the Catacombs, early Christian art, the first monasteries, the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament...

Second Report