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Semester 1

Stoic Philosophy at Rome (CLTR10026)


Classical Literature in Translation





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Visiting students must have taken at least 3 courses in Classics related subject matter (at least 2 of which should be in Classical Literature) at grade B or above for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum academic entry requirements does NOT guarantee admission. **Please note that 3rd year Classics courses are very popular and have strict visiting student quotas, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.** These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces. Please note that this course may incur additional costs for course texts.

Course Summary

The philosophy of the Stoics had an immense impact on the intellectual life of Rome. This course aims to introduce students to a wide range of textual evidence for the cultural place and importance of Stoicism by closely reading a broad selection of both philosophical and literary texts.

Course Description

In the late Roman Republic and the first century of Imperial Rome, the Stoic philosophical school (founded by Zeno of Citium in c. 300 BCE) was a dominant intellectual movement of notable influence on contemporary literature, philosophical and otherwise. This course aims to trace both how Stoicism, as a systematic philosophy, is developed in this period and how this philosophical system influenced the literary culture of Rome. Approximately two-thirds of the course will focus on the primary evidence of philosophical texts. A selection of the dialogues of Cicero (e.g. Academica, De finibus, De natura deorum, De officiis and De fato), Seneca's letters and treatises (e.g. De beneficiis, De otio, and De brevitate vitae), Epictetus, and the fragments of lesser-known, but influential, Stoics (e.g. Musonius Rufus and Cornutus) will be studied. This will provide a thorough introduction to Stoic philosophical doctrine, practice, and its distinctive features in this period. With this immersion into how Stoicism is adapted and developed, we will be in an excellent position to enquire into how this philosophy made its influence felt on the wider literary culture. Texts from the wide array of Stoic-influenced authors (e.g. Horace, Juvenal, Persius, and Lucan) will be considered and analysed for the influence of Stoic philosophical debate and what this impact means for Latin literary culture and practice. Ultimately, students should gain an understanding of not only an influential philosophical school but also of how this Greek philosophical system becomes embedded in the wider culture of Rome.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 40%, Coursework 60%, Practical Exam 0%

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