CLAS 520B (H01) - Classical Society, Politics and Ethics: Happiness and Ancient Views of the Good Life

Hon/Ancient Views of Good Life

Durham   Liberal Arts :: Classics
Course Delivery Method: Scheduled meeting time, Online (no campus visits), EUNH
Credits: 4.0
Term: Summer 2021 - Summer Session II (05/24/2021 - 07/30/2021)
Grade Mode: Letter Grading
Class Size:   20  
CRN: 70976
How did the Greeks and Romans define happiness and was happiness considered an essential component of the "good life"? How do ancient concepts of the "good life" influence later views of human flourishing and how do specific historical circumstances alter utopian visions of a life well lived? This course traces the concept of the "good life" from ancient Greece to today and challenges students to create their own vision of a "good life".
Only the following students: Honors Program
Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc), Honors course
Instructors: Paul Robertson

Times & Locations

Start Date End Date Days Time Location
5/24/2021 7/30/2021 MWF 5:10pm - 6:00pm ONLINE
Additional Course Details: 

Summer 2021 will focus on three specific themes around happiness and the good life:

  1. Heroism & Fame – Epic of Gilgamesh and The Iliad
    Can life’s meaning be found in conquering one’s enemies, questing for greatness, and leaving behind a lasting legacy?
  2. Morality & Serenity – Stoicism and Epicureanism
    How do we best achieve a life of morality, virtue, peace, and calm, surrounded by loving friends and noble pursuits?
  3. Pain & Pleasure – Cynicism and Religious Asceticism
    Is life actually about the pursuit of animalistic pleasure? Or is life about overcoming pleasure and pain entirely?

Each theme will contain a component from different ancient cultures in the classical tradition (Babylon, Greece, Rome, Judaism/Christianity), exploring similarities across time and culture as well as differences. As students of ancient thought, we will also give attention to the ways in which the authors and issues we study continue to be relevant today. Each theme will be the subject of its own section of the course, with its own exam. Each theme/section will also have an individual assignment, where students will synthesize, assess, and apply these ancient theories to their own lives today.