Christopher Star

Professor of Classics

 work(802) 443-5910
 Tuesdays 2:00-3:00, Wednesdays 11:00-1:00 and by appointment
 Twilight Hall 214

I received degrees in Classics from Bates College (BA), the University of Cambridge (MPhil) and the University of Chicago (PhD). I also studied at the Humboldt University in Berlin. My teaching and research focus on the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire. Specifically, my interests lie in considering how the Romans came to grips with the transition from freedom to autocracy, how this transition shaped their concept of the self, and how their ideas continue to inform modern debates. My first book, The Empire of the Self, looks at the relationship between two of the emperor Nero’s advisors, the Stoic philosopher and dramatist Lucius Annaeus Seneca, and Petronius, the author of the proto-novel the Satyricon.

I have also written Seneca, an introduction to his life, works and legacy, the first of its kind in English in several years. My current research focuses on apocalyptic and eschatological thought in the ancient Mediterranean world. In addition to other projects, I am at work on a book, Golden Age and Apocalypse: The Ends of the World in Greek and Roman Thought.

You can listen to a recent interview I gave to VPR on Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, and her newly renovated statue atop the Vermont State House.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

CLAS 0143 - Rise & Fall of Roman Republic      

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Republic
This course is an introduction to the literature, politics, culture and history of the Roman Republic (c.509-31BCE) - a period which saw Rome grow from a small city on the Tiber to the supreme power in the Mediterranean, and also saw the development of Latin literature. Our readings cover a broad variety of literary genres and authors: comedy (Plautus and Terence), lyric (Catullus), epic (Ennius), political speeches and letters (Cicero), history (Caesar, Sallust, Polybius), and didactic philosophy (Lucretius). As we read we will be careful to investigate how these texts present different and often conflicting ideas of what it means to be Roman, as well as how different ideologies of Rome compete throughout each work. 3 hrs. lect. 1hr. disc. EUR HIS LIT

Fall 2014, Spring 2018

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CLAS 0144 - Literature of the Roman Empire      

Literature of the Roman Empire
In this course we will investigate the literature, culture, and history of the Roman Empire, focusing on how Romans sought, often at the cost of their own lives, to define the role and powers of the emperor and their place as subjects to this new, autocratic power. Texts we will read include: epic (Lucan), tragedy (Seneca), history (Tacitus), biography (Suetonius), prose fiction (Petronius), as well as early Christian literature. As we read we will seek to answer questions about the nature of freedom and empire, what is gained and lost by replacing a republican with an autocratic political system, and whether literature in this period can offer an accurate reflection of reality, function as an instrument of change and protest, or of fearful praise and flattery. 3 hrs lect. 1 hr. disc. CW EUR HIS LIT

Spring 2017

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CLAS 0276 / PHIL 0276 - Roman Philosophy      

Roman Philosophy
In this course we will seek to answer the question of what is Roman philosophy - philosophia togata. Is it simply Greek philosophy in Roman dress? Or, while based in its Greek origins, does it grow to have a distinctive and rigorous character of its own, designed and developed to focus on uniquely "Roman" questions and problems, in particular, ethical, social, and political questions? We will investigate how some of the main schools of Hellenistic Greek thought came to be developed in Latin: Epicureanism (Lucretius), Academic Skepticism (Cicero), and Stoicism (Seneca). As we read we will investigate how each school offers different answers to crucial questions such as what is the goal of life? What is the highest good? Should one take part in politics or not? What is the nature of the soul? What is the nature of Nature itself? Is there an afterlife? Can we ever have a certain answer to any of these questions? 3 hrs. lect. EUR PHL

Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

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CLAS 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
(Approval required)

Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

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CLAS 0505 - Ind Senior Project      

(Approval Required)

Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

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CLAS 0700 - Sr Essay Classics/Cy      

Senior Essay for Classics/Classical Studies Majors
(Approval required)

Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

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FYSE 1301 - Rome on Stage and Screen      

Ancient Rome on the Stage and Screen
In this seminar we will investigate the long history of Roman drama, from the ancient world to Shakespeare’s plays and contemporary films. As we explore the representation and reception of ancient Rome, we will address the following questions: What is the relationship between drama and history? To what political purposes can drama and film be used? How does the representation of characters change over time? How are women portrayed? Why does Rome continue to influence the modern world? Texts will include Octavia and the Satyricon; Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra; films will include Quo Vadis? and I, Claudius. CW EUR LIT

Fall 2017

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GREK 0201 - Intermediate Greek: Prose      

Intermediate Greek: Attic Prose-Lysias & Plato *
Readings in major authors. 3 hrs. lect.

Fall 2014, Fall 2016

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GREK 0402 - Adv Readings Greek Literature      

Advanced Readings in Greek Literature II: Greek Cosmology–Hesiod and Plato
Readings in major authors. 3 hrs. lect.

Spring 2017

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LATN 0101 - Beginning Latin      

Beginning Latin I
The course offers an intensive introduction to the Latin language that prepares students to read the major authors of ancient Roman literature. In addition to their systematic study of grammar and syntax, students translate excerpts from Vergil, Seneca and the Vulgate Bible. This course is designed for students who have had no previous experience with Latin, as well as those who have had some Latin but want to review the fundamentals of grammar. LNG WTR

Winter 2017

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LATN 0102 - Beginning Latin II      

Beginning Latin II
This course is a continuation of the introductory winter term course (LATN 0101). After completing the fundamentals of Latin grammar, students translate selections from authors such as Cicero and Ovid. 3 hrs. lect. LNG

Spring 2015

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LATN 0202 - Intermediate Latin: Poetry      

Intermediate Latin: Poetry
Readings in major authors. 3 hrs. lect. EUR LNG

Spring 2014, Spring 2018

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Eve Adler Department of Classics

Twilight Hall
50 Franklin Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753

fax 802-443-2077