Pavlos Sfyroeras
Office
Twilight Hall 210
Tel
(802) 443-2530
Email
psfyroer@middlebury.edu

Primarily a Hellenist, I teach courses intended to introduce students to the authors of a period such as the 5th century BC or to a genre such as comedy or the novel. A central concern of mine is the interface of ancient literature and religion. Consequently, I often venture into the manifestations of the sacred in Greek culture and offer seminars on Greek religion in general or on a specialized topic such as rites of passage. I also enjoy teaching all levels of Greek and Latin; my favorite authors for the more advanced levels include Homer, Pindar, Aristophanes, Thucydides, and Plato on the Greek side, Plautus, Tacitus, and Apuleius on the Latin. In all my teaching, whether in the original languages or in English, I seek to bring students into contact with great minds that, while operating under different circumstances and with different categories from our own, have shaped profoundly the way we think. This combination of the familiar and the foreign is, I believe, a crucial component of a liberal education.

Courses Taught

Course Description

The Golden Age of Athens: History and Literature
In this course we will trace the unprecedented intellectual innovation that begins with Greece’s triumph over the Persian invasions in 490 and 480-479 BC, continues through the emergence of radical democracy and imperialism at Athens, and culminates in the Peloponnesian War and Athens’ defeat in 404 BC by her former ally, Sparta. Through intensive study of selected works of historiography (Herodotus, Thucydides), tragedy (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides), comedy (Aristophanes), and philosophy (Plato), we will explore the central concerns of 5th-century Athenians: freedom and power, knowledge and virtue, law and nature, and the place of the divine in the human world. 3 hr. lect., 1 hr. disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2021

Requirements

EUR, HIS, LIT

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Course Description

Greek and Roman Comedy
A survey of the comic playwrights of Greece (Aristophanes and Menander) and Rome (Plautus and Terence) in light of their ancient social, political, and religious contexts as well as modern theoretical approaches to laughter (including psychoanalysis and structural anthropology). We will trace enduring aspects of the comic tradition that can be found in both Greece and Rome and also look forward to Renaissance and modern comedy. These include: the nature of the comic hero; the patterns of comic plots; the dependence of comedy on language; the comic poet's concern with questions of freedom and slavery, desire and repression. 3 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Greek Religion
In this course we will examine the religious experience of the Greeks in all its complexity and variety. Drawing on literary sources (e.g. Homer, Hesiod, tragedy, and comedy, among others) and archaeological evidence, we will study the Greek views of the gods as these emerge from both mythical narratives and cult practice. We will explore the Greek ideas of personal salvation, but also the importance of religious festivals for the community of the polis. Finally, while looking at ancient philosophical critiques of the traditional gods, we will trace the transition to Christianity and we will compare the sacred in Greek culture with the place of religion in our own society. 3 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020

Requirements

EUR, HIS, PHL

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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, 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, Spring 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, Spring 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

Ancient Women on Stage: Tragic and Comic
As soon as theater was born in Ancient Greece around 500 BCE, it embarked on a radical examination of social institutions and cultural values. By adapting myths and rituals for the stage, tragic and comic playwrights invited their audiences to reflect critically on their own communities. In this seminar we will meet some of the women they put on stage to challenge traditional gender roles and push the boundaries of acceptable thought and behavior. Employing modern theoretical approaches and close reading, we will study tragedies by Sophocles (Antigone) and Euripides (Medea, Hecuba, Helen) and comedies by Aristophanes (Lysistrata, Assemblywomen) to explore what the prominence of female characters means for Athenian society but also for the art of theater.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Sophocles and Athens
What can we learn from Sophocles, the tragic playwright whose life spans the Athenian 5th century BCE? Why do his tragedies—composed against the background of Athens’ incredible achievements, its radical democracy, but also its ever more aggressive foreign policy—reflect so poignantly on the human condition? In this seminar we will trace Sophocles’ effort to probe the mysteries of the soul, both of the individual and of the community, and to confront the riddle of human existence. In addition to studying his seven surviving plays in their historical context, we will also consider their profound impact on later thought and art, including opera and film. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

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 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 2022

Requirements

LNG

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Course Description

Readings in Greek Literature I
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

Fall 2019, Fall 2021

Requirements

LIT, 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 2020

Requirements

LIT, LNG

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Course Description

Advanced Readings in Greek Literature: Homer's /Iliad/
Readings in major authors. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Winter 2019

Requirements

LNG, WTR

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Course Description

Independent Essay Project
(Approval Required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

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Course Description

Senior Comprehensive Exam
Intended for majors in literary studies preparing for the written section of the senior comprehensive examinations.

Terms Taught

Winter 2020, Winter 2021

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Course Description

Independent Reading Course
Intended for majors in literary studies preparing for the senior comprehensive examinations. At the conclusion of this course, students will take a one-hour oral examination (part of the senior comprehensive examination) in a specialization of their choice. (Approval Required) (Staff)

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

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Course Description

Senior Colloquium in Literary Studies
Although it is required of all Literary Studies seniors, this course is intended for students working in any discipline who seek a close encounter with some of the greatest achievements of the literary imagination. In addition to being understood as distinctive artistic and philosophical accomplishments, the major works which constitute the reading list will also be seen as engaged in a vital, overarching cultural conversation across temporal and geographical boundaries that might otherwise seem insurmountable. The texts for this semester include Homer’s Odyssey, Aeschylus’ Oresteia, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Dostoevsky’ Crime and Punishment, Pirandello’ Six Characters in Search of an Author, and Borges’ Ficciones. (Open to non-majors with the approval of the instructor.) 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

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Course Description

Senior Honors Essay
(Approval Required)

Terms Taught

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

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Areas of Interest

My research focuses on the epic, choral, and dramatic poets of archaic and classical Greece; like my teaching, it tends to explore the mythic and ritual dimensions of literature. In addition to several articles on Aristophanes, Pindar, Bacchylides, Euripides, and Homer, my monograph The Feast of Poetry: Sacrifice and Performance in Aristophanic Comedy is forthcoming from Harvard University Press.I am currently working on two book-length projects, tentatively entitled “Aristophanes Sophos: Comedy and Philosophy in the Late 5th Century” and “Pindar’s Epichoric Mythmaking.”

Publications

PAVLOS SFYROERAS
Select Publications
• “Sacrificial Feasts and Euripides’ Cyclops: Between Comedy and Tragedy?”, in A.P.
Antonopoulos, M.M. Christopoulos, G.W.M. Harrison (eds.), Reconstructing
Satyr Drama. MythosEikonPoiesis (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021) 361-373.
• “Wings or Armour? Costume, Metaphor, and the Limits of Utopia in Aristophanes’
Birds,” Illinois Classical Studies 45.2 (2020) 310-332.
• “Laughter and Collective Trauma in Aristophanic Comedy”, in E. Hall and P. Swallow
(eds.), Aristophanic Humour: Theory and Practice (London and New York:
Bloomsbury, 2020), pp. 69-78, 224-226.
• “The Music of Sacrifice: Between Mortals and Immortals,” Greek and Roman Musical
Studies 8.1 (2020) 97-110.
• “Pindar at Colonus: A Sophoclean Response to Pindar’s Olympians 2 and 3,” in R.
Andujar, T.R.P. Coward, T.A. Hadjimichael (eds.), Paths of Song: The Lyric
Dimension of Greek Tragedy. Trends in Classics 58 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018),
pp. 65-86.
• “Like Purple on Ivory: A Homeric Simile in Statius’ Achilleid,” in A. Augoustakis
(ed.), Flavian Poetry and its Greek Past. Mnemosyne Supplement 366. (Brill:
Leiden, 2014), pp. 235-248.
• “The Battle of Marathon: Poetry, Ideology, Politics,” in K. Buraselis and E. Koulakiotis
(eds.), Marathon: The Day After (Athens, 2013) 75-94.
• “Eirēnē Philheortos and Dionysiac Poetics in Aristophanic Comedy” in N. Birgalias, K.
Buraselis, P. Cartledge (eds.), War, Peace, and Panhellenic Games: in Memory of
Pierre Carlier (Athens, 2013), pp. 651-667.
• “The Comic Poetics of Apollo in Aristophanes’ Knights,” in L. Athanassaki, R.P.
Martin, J.F. Miller (eds.), Apolline Politics and Poetics. Proceedings of a
Conference at the European Cultural Center of Delphi, July 4-11, 2003 (Athens,
2009) 501-519.
• “The Scepter and Achilles’ Oath in Iliad 1.233-246,” in E. Karamalengou (ed.),
Antiphilêsis. Studies on Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Literature and
Culture in Honour of J. Th. Papademetriou (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag,
2009) 48-56.
• “Pothos Euripidou: Reading the Andromeda in Aristophanes’ Frogs.” American
Journal of Philology 129 (2008) 299-317.• “From Sacrifice to Feast: A Ritual Pattern in the Comedy of Aristophanes,” in D.L.
Cairns (ed.), Law, Rhetoric and Comedy in Classical Athens. Essays in Honor of
Douglas M. MacDowell (Duckworth/Classical Press of Wales, 2004) 251-268.
• “Olive Trees, North Wind, and Time: A Symbol in Pindar, Olympian 3,” Mouseion,
Series III, 3 (2003) 313-324.
• “Silence and Comic Language in Aristophanes,” in S. Jäkel and A. Timonen (eds.), The
Language of Silence, vol. 1. Annales Universitatis Turkuensis 246 (Turku, 2001)
50-70.
• “What Wealth Has to Do With Dionysus: From Economy to Poetics in Aristophanes’
Plutus.” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 36/3 (1995, published 1996) 231-
261.
• “The Youth, the King, and the Fairy: Bacchylides 17 and the Ballad of the Swimmer.”
Archaiognosia 8 (1993-94, published 1995) 277-302.
• “The Ironies of Salvation: The Aigeus Scene in Euripides’ Medea.” The Classical
Journal 90 (1994-95) 125-42.
• “Fireless Sacrifices: Pindar’s Olympian 7 and the Panathenaic Festival.” American
Journal of Philology 114 (1993) 1-26 (reprinted in G. Nagy (ed.), Greek
Literature, vol. 3 [New York, 2001]).