North Bay, ON

Classics 3305E 
Ancient Thought: From Myth to Argument

This course examines the most ancient origins of our Western way of life. It attempts to answer fundamental questions about the earliest development of civic, social, economic and religious communities.   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? 

Human conceptions of ritual, duty, faith, wisdom and hope were first formulated in the mythology of the Ancient Near East.  Creation myths, flood myths, the myth of the hero and the mysteries of death and the afterlife all demonstrate clear relationships to later Greek and Roman mythology and to the Old and New Testaments. 

The course includes a history component sufficient to provide a context for the study of ancient religion, mythology and literature.  All texts will be studied in English translation.  No prerequisite.  Three hours of lecture per week.  (6 Cr) 

Now cross listed with Religious Studies.

Professor:  Ursula Stange     Office:  H124      x 4309

Texts:   Dunstan, William,  The Ancient Near East

            Pritchard, James B., (ed), The Ancient Near East: 
            Vol. I, An Anthology of Texts and Pictures

            Jackson, Danny,   The Epic of Gilgamesh (a verse rendition)

            The Old Testament (preferably the King James version)

Additional reading on the Internet will also be required from time to time.  Please make sure that you have an account and are able to find your way around the Internet.   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.


Outline of Lectures                                                              September 2002

1.     Introduction to Classics 3305 -- The Uses of Mythology        Sept 10
2.     Digging up the Past                                                             Sept 17
3.     Background to Ancient History                                            Sept 24
4.     Early Mesopotamia:  Sumer                                                 Oct 1
5.     Sumer cont'd                                                                       Oct 8
6.     Later Mesopotamia:  Babylon and Assyria                            Oct 15
7.     The Bible and the Ancient Near East                                   Oct 22
8.     Egypt                                                                                  Oct 29
9.     The Hittites                                                                         Nov 5
10.    Israel -- Hebrew Monotheism                                              Nov 12
11.    Persia Zoroastrianism                                                       Nov 19
12.    Midterm    //  Art of the Ancient Near East                          Nov 26

Christmas Break

13.    Comparative Mythology:  Types of Myth                                Jan 7
14.    Creation                                                                               Jan 14
15.    The Flood                                                                             Jan 21
16.    The Birth of the Hero                                                           Jan 28
17     Death and the Afterlife                                                          Feb 4
18.    Student Presentations                                                            Feb 11

Study Week                                                                             Feb 17-21
19      Gilgamesh                                                                           Feb 25
20      Gilgamesh                                                                           Mar 4
21.     Student Presentations (Essays due)                                      Mar 11
22.     Job and Wisdom Literature                                                  Mar 18
23.     Student Presentations (or India and China)                            Mar 25
24.     Mythology in the Modern World (Conclusions and review)    April 1

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