University of Notre Dame

Words of the Ancient Romans

Course Number: CLAS 10022

This course introduces students to the literary culture of ancient Rome, from the boisterous comedy of Plautus in the second century BCE to the Confessions of St. Augustine in the fourth century CE. Along the way we will examine Cicero’s work as a defense lawyer and a politician, Vergil’s magisterial epic of foundation and loss in his Aeneid, erotic poetry of Catullus and Ovid, and the surreal worlds of the Roman novel. Some history will accompany the works for context, but the course primarily asks students to explore some of the literary works of the world in which so many of our own institutions — from the church to the courts — took shape. We will explore some of the ways that Roman literature describes and offers solutions to unchanging human dilemmas of the heart and mind.