Violence and the Ancient City
General Catalog Course Title:
Topics in Classics
Terms Offered:
Fall 2016
Spring 2016
Spring 2012

The ancient world was a violent place. But what precisely does that mean? Does it mean that one would have had a better chance of being mugged in broad daylight? Or that one had a higher chance of being caught up in an out of control riot? How many people would one see bearing welts and scars from a magistrates' whips and rods? What do we mean by "violence" anyway, and how does it differ from "domination" or "social control"? Need it always mean direct harm to the physical person? Need this harm always be intentional and illegitimate? If we are correct in thinking that the ancient city was divided between the "haves" and "have-nots", would it then be correct to say that there was something like "structural" violence in the ancient world? What could we learn from such a designation? In this course we will explore these issues through a variety of primary and secondary texts from antiquity (writ large) that focus on the mundane and the spectacular moment of violence in areas where large numbers of frequently different and argumentatitve people chose to make their homes. Readings will range from inscriptions and papyri to poetry and historiography, from classical Athens to the Church Fathers, martyr texts, and late antique literature. Secondary scholarship and theoretical perspectives will be a key part of this course as well.

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.