CLAS 312 - Animal Encounters: The Real and Fantastic Creatures of Antiquity

Animals were central to the ancient world, and present everywhere. The literature of antiquity is filled with animal allegories, and stories of emotional attachment among humans and animals. Other voices argue its opposite: that animals exist for the use of humans, and that they do not possess an intellect compatible with our own. These two relationships, utilitarian and affectionate, give rise to many of the questions we will address in this course as we consider ancient behavior toward animals in these literary presentations and then compare that behavior with our own modern thinking on such topics as: Do animals differ from humans intellectually? Were animals created for the use of humans? Do we have an obligation to protect animals? Should animals be used for food, sport, or sacrifice? Can animals be our friends? These are all questions that formed the ancient ethical debates about animals and informed behavior toward them. Arguments cover the full gamut, from ideas that humans owe animals nothing to imputing rational sentience to them. Beyond the debates about animals that survive in extant literature, in this course we also examine animals in material culture, e.g., animals in art or carved on monuments. In addition, we will consider a variety of modern ideas about animals by reading a children's book about animals (list will be provided) as a way of developing a comparative framework for interpreting the literature about animals in antiquity. These readings will form the basis of student presentations. CLAS 312 is a General Education Tier 2 Humanities course.

Grade Basis
Regular Grades
Course Attributes
General Ed-Tiers (Before 2022)
Writing Emphasis