Course Syllabus

Course Description and Objectives

Love means different things to different people. The Greeks had at least four words for it, denoting different kinds of love, while some Romans differentiated between two or three kinds of kisses. There were stereotypes about love and sex, gods and goddesses to preside over their various aspects, laws and customs about how to love acceptably, and of course stories of those who violated those precepts. This course will sample widely from across the centuries, across the Mediterranean, and across many genres to recognize many voices advancing very different perspectives.

This course will provide a survey of diverse ancient perspectives on many kinds of love, ranging from the intensely sexual to the broadly philanthropic. By tracing out the theme of love, we shall also encounter many genres and periods of Greek and Roman literature. Further, we shall become more familiar with the resources and writing practices of modern classical scholarship.

This course provides five credits at the 400 level. Expect a considerable amount of reading, active class discussions, and writing and presentation of research.

On Keeping an Open Mind

This course investigates matters that can number among the most intimate experiences and opinions, and yet at the same time among the most public. We examine love and its frequent companion, sex, among the diverse cultures of the ancient Greek and Roman (and Hellenized Phoenician) peoples, who themselves, far from presenting a monolithic moral mindset, held diverse views on these topics. Some topics, such as pederasty, that might have seemed perfectly normal to some fifth-century Athenians, are today illegal and morally damnable, and might well have been so to contemporary Greeks in other cities or to some Romans later. Nevertheless, the inexorable progress of time has swept these many different, sometimes conflicting, ideas into the tradition of surviving literature from antiquity, and it is to that tradition, built upon a wildly diverse commixture of ideas, that we today have recourse as we study the roots of western civilization.

Course Times and Places

This course meets every Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 2:10 PM in Bond Hall 108. The first class meeting is on Tuesday, January 8; the last on Tuesday, March 12. During the winter quarter, no holidays fall on a Tuesday or Thursday, but there is no class on Thursday, March 14, since I shall be delivering a paper at a conference on medical history that day. Since you submit the final examination by Canvas during finals week, there will be no need for a class meeting during the final examination season.


Miller Krause ( )
Office: Miller Hall 122D
Office Hours:

  • Tuesday and Thursday: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
  • Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: 2:30 PM – 3:00 PM


Many of the readings will be online, since they are freely available. Nevertheless, one book (Games of Venus) will be absolutely necessary for you to buy, since it contains an excellent selection of a broad range of Greek and Latin poetry in very legible translation, and two other books offer much more user-friendly translations than anything available online.

I have asked the bookstore to make available the following, which I've given in the standard TAPA bibliographic format with ISBN and the bookstore's price as of November 12:

  • Bing, P. and Cohen, R. Games of Venus: An Anthology of Greek and Roman Erotic Verse from Sappho to Ovid. New York: Routledge. ISBN: 978-0415902618. $41.
  • Reeve, C. 2006. Plato on Love: Lysis, Symposium, Phaedrus, Alcibiades, with Selections from Republic and Laws. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett. ISBN: 978-0872207882. $15.
  • Whitmarsh, T. Achilles Tatius: Leucippe and Clitophon. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics. ISBN: 978-0199555475. $13.

If you're looking for new books, the bookstore's prices are better than Amazon or BN; if you want used books, check AbeBooks.

All the readings for this course are in English. I'd be glad to accommodate anyone who would like to read them in Greek or Latin (especially Achilles Tatius): I would be glad to set up extra reading groups for those who want to practice their Latin or Greek skills on any of the texts.

University Services for Students

I am more than happy to make accommodations for students with disabilities or other special needs. So that the Disability Access Center (DAC, formerly DRS) can ensure that your needs are being met appropriately, all requests for accommodation must be made through the MyDAC system every quarter: accommodations do not automatically roll-over into future quarters. New students should enroll with DAC to receive accommodations. Accommodations are not retroactive, so you should obtain them as soon as possible.

Phone: (360) 650-3083

The Student Health Center not only provides primary care services but handles documentation of medical issues and medical leaves of absence for you, making your life easier.

Phone: (360) 650-3400

In the case of a family or personal crisis or emergency, please contact the Office of Student Life. During a personal or family crisis, the office of the Office of Student Life can coordinate non-medical leaves of absence for you, making your life easier.

Phone: (360) 650-3450

Academic Honesty

Don't commit academic dishonesty. See the University's website on Academic Honesty and explore the University's Integrity website.


Grading Scale

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Course Requirements

Attendance and Participation (15%)

You should come to class. Your reading and your intelligent discussion of what you have read constitutes the backbone of this course.

Article and Book Reviews (15%)

From the course bibliography, pick an article, another article or chapter from an edited book, and a monograph. Review each of them. Detailed instructions are provided in each of the three assignment pages:

  1. Article Review
  2. Article or Book Chapter Review
  3. Monograph Review

Your report does not need to be long: you should be able to wrap it up in under 250 words. For examples of professional scholars' reviews, check out the repository of classical book reviews at Bryn Mawr:

Research Paper (30%)

Academia expects that you develop your interests into research questions, and those questions into arguments that you both situate within the field of current scholarship and prove by reference to primary source materials.

Research differentiates a college course from a book club. In a book club, you spend perhaps a few hours reading a primary source that you discuss with friends who also have spent a negligible amount of time reading the same primary source: from this you get only a superficial exposure to what might (or might not) be a much deeper subject. Reading peer-reviewed secondary sources, which cite and build upon earlier research, gives you quick access to thousands of hours spent by many experts deeply versed in the subject. This is why universities allocate major funds to create and sustain libraries and access to online academic resources: without secondary scholarship, college would be a shallow experience.

Your paper does not need to be long—five pages is the minimum, and seven the maximum. This reflects the usual length of conference papers for professional academic conferences at which scholars first present research to gauge the opinions of their peers before working the research up into a journal article or book chapter. Like most conferences, this class will give you a hard limit of fifteen minutes for your presentation, and that translates into a five to seven page paper. You do need at least five sources cited in the body (and thus also appearing in the bibliography) of your rough and final drafts.

Steps to the paper:

  1. Research. The article and book review discussions will help with that.
  2. Abstract. The abstract presents your thesis and compares it to current scholarship on the issue. This tells me what you plan to do with your paper and whether you have done enough initial research to know what steps to take next.
  3. Rough Draft. I shall go through your rough draft with a fine-toothed comb. I still do this, at the same level of attention to detail, for friends from grad school. Canvas will also assign peer reviews so that you get feedback from others in the class.
  4. Presentation. Stand in front of the class and read what you have by this point, which will probably be a revised version of your first draft. Your peers will give feedback and ask questions after your presentation. Use that to your advantage: figure out what else you can edit.
  5. Final Draft. Submit your polished, final draft by the end of exam week.

Occasional Quizzes (20%)

Essay-based quizzes are scheduled throughout the quarter. Some will be more scholarly in character, while others may take the form of declamatory exercises.

Final Examination (20%)

The final examination will be essay-based; you will submit it on Canvas during the final examination week.

Tentative Schedule

Below you will find a tentative schedule of the course.

This syllabus is subject to change. Changes, if any, will be announced in class. Students will be held responsible for all changes.

Canvas provides feeds to which you can subscribe, to keep all your course info in your favorite calendar program like Apple's Calendar or Microsoft Outlook. For details, see the Canvas Guide on subscribing to the Calendar Feed.

Course Summary:

Date Details