Marc Witkin
Office
Twilight Hall 213
Tel
(802) 443-5664
Email
witkin@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Fall 2022: Tues/Thurs 10-12 or, by appointment

Courses Taught

Course Description

Greek and Roman Epic Poetry
Would Achilles and Hector have risked their lives and sacred honor had they understood human life and the Olympian gods as Homer portrays them in the Iliad? Why do those gods decide to withdraw from men altogether following the Trojan War, and why is Odysseus the man Athena chooses to help her carry out that project? And why, according to the Roman poet Vergil, do these gods command Aeneas, a defeated Trojan, to found an Italian town that will ultimately conquer the Greek cities that conquered Troy, replacing the Greek polis with a universal empire that will end all wars of human freedom? Through close study of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and Vergil's Aeneid, we explore how the epic tradition helped shape Greece and Rome, and define their contributions to European civilization. 3 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

Requirements

CMP, EUR, LIT, PHL

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Course Description

Greek Philosophy: The Problem of Socrates
Why did Socrates “call philosophy down from the heavens, set her in the cities of men and also their homes, and compel her to ask questions about life and morals and things good and evil”? Why was philosophy indifferent to man, then considered dangerous to men when it did pay attention? How was philosophy ultimately transformed by Plato and Aristotle as a consequence of the examination of human knowledge that Socrates made intrinsic to philosophy? In this course we will consider the central questions of ancient Greek philosophy from the pre-Socratics through Plato and Aristotle by focusing on what Nietzsche called "the Problem of Socrates": why Socrates abandoned "pre-Socratic" natural science in order to examine the opinions of his fellow Athenians, and why they put him to death for corruption and impiety. Texts will include selected fragments of the pre-Socratics and sophists, works of Aristophanes, Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle , and Nietzsche. 3 hrs. lect disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020

Requirements

EUR, LIT, 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 2021, Spring 2022

Requirements

EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Independent Study
(Approval required)

Terms Taught

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

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Course Description

(Approval Required)

Terms Taught

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

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Course Description

Euripides and Athens
Was the tragic genius of Euripides (480?-406 BC) corrupted by the atheistic rationalism of the sophists and the philosophy of Socrates (470-399 BC), as their Athenian contemporary, the comic poet Aristophanes, alleged? Nietzsche makes that view the basis of his attack on Socrates in The Birth of Tragedy (1872). Or, was Euripides in fact "the most tragic of the poets," as Aristotle argued in his Poetics, written during the half century after Euripides' death in 406 BC? In this course we discuss twelve of Euripides' extant plays in the context of 5th c. BC Greek political and intellectual history, with the help of Thucydides, Aristophanes, Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, and some modern critics. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020, Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Greek Tragedy and Athenian Democracy
In this survey of selected dramas by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, we explore tragedy’s relation to political freedom and empire in fifth century B.C. Athens. The Athenian tragic poets used traditional Greek myths, especially Homer’s depiction of the Trojan War, paradoxically: to question the morality and wisdom of contemporary Athenian imperialism; to expose the conflict between the individual’s civic and familial obligations; to highlight the tension between men’s presumptive self-government and their belief in the active power of gods. We ask how the tragedians managed to raise publicly, in the solemn religious setting of Athens’ dramatic festivals, the kind of questions for which the people of Athens later put the philosopher Socrates to death on charges of corruption and impiety. The course culminates in a reading of Aristotle's study of tragedy, the Poetics. 3 hrs. sem

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Beginning Greek I
This course is a rapid and intensive introduction to classical Greek for beginners. The aim of the course is to prepare students to read the major authors of Greek literature. In addition to a systematic study of grammar and syntax, we will also read excerpts from a variety of ancient authors.

Terms Taught

Winter 2020, Winter 2022

Requirements

LNG, WTR

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Course Description

Beginning Greek II
This course completes the introductory course offered in Winter Term and will conclude with a reading of Plato's dialogue, Ion. 6 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020

Requirements

LNG

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Course Description

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

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

EUR, LNG

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Course Description

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

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

EUR, LNG

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Course Description

Readings in Greek Literature II
Readings in major authors. Students should have had some formal study of Greek 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 2022

Requirements

LIT, LNG

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Course Description

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

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

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