University of Notre Dame

Political Theory of Homer's Iliad

Course Number: POLS 13181 – 1
Instructor: Sotirios Barber

Homer’s Iliad has fascinated readers for the better part of three millennia. No book except the Bible has attracted more scholarly attention. Our aim this fall will be to read this classic with the care that it deserves. As we do so we shall confront a view of the world and humankind whose differences and similarities with our own will involve us in many puzzles. As we wrestle with these puzzles we will fall into friendly disagreements, discovering in the process that a great virtue of the Iliad lies in the debates it provokes. These debates, properly conducted, require clarity of thought and expression on our part, along with respect for evidence, textual and otherwise, and a willingness to suspend judgment until all sides receive their due. These virtues, like virtues generally, are improved with exercise, and our exercises will take the form of active class discussion, assigned oral reports, five short papers on problems as they arise in the readings, and a term paper of 15-20 pages on a topic selected by the student and approved by the instructor. Course grades will be based on class participation (discussion, oral reports), the term paper, and on-time completion of all assignments. Class attendance is mandatory; all absences must be officially excused. Term papers are due no later than the last day of class. No final exam. Course texts are: Richmond Lattimore, The Iliad of Homer and Diana Hacker, A Pocket Style Manual.