Syllabus    2007 / 2008

Classics 3305 
Ancient Thought: From Myth to Argument

This course examines the most ancient origins of our Western way of life. It seeks out the earliest answers to the most fundamental questions about the development of civic, social, economic and religious communities. Who are we?  Where do we come from?  What does it mean to live a good life? How much personal freedom is worth trading for communal protection? What is the right relationship of an individual to the family? To the community? To the state? To God?  

In looking at those answers, we will take up the earliest threads of the fabric of Western civilization. Creation myths, flood myths, the myth of the hero, wisdom literature and the mysteries of death and the afterlife will be traced from their roots in the Ancient Near East to their later formulations in the Old Testament and Greek mythology. 

The course includes a history component sufficient to provide a context for the study of ancient religion, mythology, literature and art.  All texts will be studied in English translation.

* Three hours of lecture per week.

* No prerequisite

* Cross listed with Religious Studies

Professor:         Ursula Stange      Ofc:  H302             Ext: 4309

Class Web Page

Personal Web Page 

Texts:    The Epic of Gilgamesh, verse rendition by Danny P. Jackson 

              The Old Testament  (Preferably King James or Revised Standard)



I have decided not to use a textbook this year.  Instead, a variety of readings will be required.  These will be provided in class, put on reserve in the library or linked to on the internet.   Please make sure that you have an account and are able to find your way around.   If this is going to be difficult for you, you better get started with familiarizing yourself.  If this is going to be an insurmountable problem for you, please come and see me.



September 2007           Outline of Lectures                                                                                         


1.           Sept 6                Introduction to Classics 3305                                                                 

2.           Sept 13              Digging up the Past                                                                                            

3.           Sept20               Background to Ancient History                                                

4.           Sept 27              Early Mesopotamia:  Sumer                                                                   

5.           Oct 4                 Religious and Intellectual Outlook in Sumer        


                                          Study Week


6.           Oct 18               Later Mesopotamia:  Babylon and Assyria                                         

7.           Oct 25               Egypt                                                                                                           

8.           Nov 1                Israel – Hebrew Monotheism                                                                 

9.           Nov 8                India and China                                                                                       

10.         Nov 15              Persia – Zoroastrianism                                                              

11.         Nov 22              The Bible and the Ancient Near East                                                    

12.         Nov 29              Midterm                                                         


                                          Christmas Break


13.         Jan 10                Comparative Mythology:  Types of Myth                                           

14.         Jan 17                Creation                                                                                                    

15.         Jan 24                The Flood                                                                                                 

16.         Jan 31                The Birth of the Hero                                                                               

17          Feb 7                 Death and the Afterlife                                                               

18.         Feb 14               Gilgamesh                                                                                  


                                        Study Week                                                                                                          


19          Feb 28               Gilgamesh

20          Mar 6                 Job and Wisdom Literature                                                                                  

21.         Mar 13               Student Presentations                                                                             

22.         Mar 20               Student Presentations                                                                 

23.         Mar 27               The Ancient World in the Modern World                                           

24.         Apr 3                  Final Exam (in class)    




August 26, 2007

Marking Scheme / Assignments
Links to the Ancient Near East
Ursula Stange's Homepage
Nipissing University

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Last Updated: August 31, 2007