Christopher Star
Office
Twilight Hall 214
Tel
(802) 443-5910
Email
cstar@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Fall 2022: T 1:30-2:30, W 11:30-1:30, and by appointment

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. My long-standing 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 eschatology and accounts of global catastrophe. I have published Apocalypse and Golden Age: The End of the World in Greek and Roman Thought. I am also working with the inaugural Humanities Research Seminar on the topic, “Crisis, Catastrophe, and Recovery.” Supported by a grant from midd.data, I am developing a digital project that documents and analyzes the history and uses of the word “apocalypse” from ancient Greece to contemporary media.

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

Courses Taught

Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020, Fall 2022

Requirements

EUR, HIS, LIT

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, EUR, HIS, LIT

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

EUR, PHL

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Course Description

Apocalypse When? Reason and Revelation in the Ancient World
Apocalypse: why does this word, originally meaning “revelation,” hold such power today? In this class we will investigate the origins of apocalyptic and eschatological thought in order to understand Greek, Roman, Jewish, and Christian ideas about the end of the world in their historical context and to see how they shape contemporary visions of the end. We will read and discuss a wide range of texts, including Hesiod, Plato, Lucretius, Cicero, Seneca, and Daniel and Revelation from the Bible. The ways in which globalization and political leaders have shaped apocalyptic thought from ancient times to today will be an area of particular focus. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Spring 2021

Requirements

CMP, EUR, PHL

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Course Description

Seminar in Classical Lit: Medea: 2,500 Years of a Tragic Heroine
From Euripides’s play to the contemporary films of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Lars von Trier, Medea’s story has been retold for two and a half millennia. In this course we will investigate some of the avatars of Medea, from drama (Euripides and Seneca), to epic (Apollonius and Ovid), to philosophical discussions of her plight (Epictetus). We will also consider her role in early modern drama (Macbeth) and modern film. What does Medea represent? The overwhelming power of love and madness? The triumph of barbarism over civilization? A critique of cultural superiority and enlightenment? How can we explain her continued presence through the centuries? 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020

Requirements

EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Independent Study
(Approval required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Winter 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

(Approval Required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Winter 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

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

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Winter 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Intermediate Greek
Readings in majors authors. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019

Requirements

EUR, LNG

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Course Description

Introduction to College Latin
This course is designed for students with one to four years of high school Latin who are interested in continuing their study of the language. The course combines review of grammar and practice in translation; the aim is to improve reading skills and understanding of the language. Students may expect to join a 0200- or 0300-level Latin course the following spring. We will use both a textbook and readings from authors such as Cicero and Livy. (Prerequisites: Students should have had some formal study of Latin and should consult with the instructor during orientation week or the first week of classes to determine whether or not the class is at the appropriate level.) 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2019

Requirements

EUR, LNG

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Course Description

Intermediate Latin: Poetry
Readings in major authors. Students should have had some formal study of Latin and should consult with the instructor during the first week of classes to determine whether or not the class is at the appropriate level. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020

Requirements

EUR, LNG

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Course Description

Readings in Latin Literature II: Vergil’s Aeneid*
Readings in major authors. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

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Course Description

Advanced Readings in Latin III
Readings in major authors. Students should have had some formal study of Latin and should consult with the instructor during the first week of classes to determine whether or not the class is at the appropriate level. 3 hrs lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020, Fall 2022

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