Proposal for Creating New Experiential Learning Courses in CLA

Professor: Dr. Janice Siegel (Dean's Appointment, Intellectual Heritage and cooperating faculty in the Department of Greek, Hebrew and Roman Classics and the Honors Program)
214 Anderson
204-1770 or 204-7893

Proposed Course for Spring 2001:
GHR CLASSICS  260 (Honors)

Topics in Classical Culture:
The Ancient Greek Cultural Nexus: Art, Archaeology, Literature and Topography

(proposed class limit: 15 students)

This course will examine the curious intersection of Greek myth, history, science, religion, and literature that created such a  unique and impressive ancient culture. To gain insight into the Greek way of thought, we will read excerpts from the great mythographers Homer, Apollodorus, Pausanias, Bacchylides, Ovid, and the Homeric Hymns; entire plays by fifth century tragedians and comic poets; and whole chapters of history by Herodotus, Thucydides, and others. We will introduce ourselves to the Oracle of Delphi, the Olympic Games, the monumental sculpture and Bronze Age tombs of Mycenae (home of Homer's Agamemnon), Athens' Panathenaic Procession (honoring Athena), the Eleusinian Mysteries (honoring Demeter), the great institution of theater, and even healing cults, all of which we know from literary, artistic, and archaeological pieces of the puzzle that is ancient Greece.

Approach to Teaching: In addition to primary texts (in translation) and select secondary material (see attached syllabus), we will do a considerable amount of virtual touring of sites and museums via the internet in class. My own vast collection of webpages on ancient Greece will act as a starting point, but I will depend on my students to find more and better sites available for our enrichment. Based on the experience I have had this past semester in a similar course, I can expect a gaggle of students filled with the wonder of it all: much excitement, active participation, the joy of discovery and, once they know enough, the joy of making connections between themes in mythology, history, literature, and material culture.

Experiential Component: Given the background that my students will acquire in Greek drama, the theater troupe Aquila's annual spring production and workshops will offer a marvelous opportunity for students to see Greek drama performed well (this year my students all saw their excellent production of Oedipus). Local excursions can include trips to various museums with superior collections of ancient Greek art such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Princeton Art Museum, the Walters Gallery in Baltimore, and of course, the University of Pennsylvania's Greek Gallery. I took two groups of students there this semester, and although they came with different backgrounds (one was an IH class, one a Classics Special Topics Class on Religious Institutions in Ancient Greece), each group found something of interest: it was particularly heartening to see a student point excitedly to a vase we had seen in a book on Greek art and provide the background myth for the tale (it happened to have been Heracles and the Nemean Lion). An IH student immediately recognized the museum's display concerning the Street of Tombs in the Keramikos in Athens (where Pericles delivered his famous Funeral oration, required reading for all Temple University students) because he had seen pictures of the real thing on my own webpages. And nothing beats the real thing. Which leads me to the real experiential component of this course: a Spring Break Class Trip to Greece!

Spring Break Trip: After studying this material in a classroom in Philadelphia, we will go experience the reality of these places in Greece. We will begin our tour in Athens, where we will discuss classical drama while sitting in the Theater of Dionysus on the south slope of the Acropolis, where the Oresteia won first prize in the Greater Dionysia in 458 B.C. We will follow the Sacred Way through the nearby Keramikos and Agora right up the steep slope of the Acropolis, where we will see Pericles' "imperishable monuments": the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheum. We will then gather atop the Areopagus (mythic site of the first law court) to read aloud passages from Aeschylus' Oresteia, especially from the Eumenides, in which the torch of justice is passed from the gods to mortal men. And where better for students to hone their rhetorical skills than in the Pnyx, meeting place of the Athenian Assembly? Although digging season begins in the summer and few archaeologists will be on hand during Spring Break, I will depend on my other contacts in Athens for special visits; for example, on my last visit to Athens with students, the American School (I am an alumna) kindly gave us the courtesy of a guided tour through their Conservators' Workshop, site of world-renowned vase reconstructions, in the heart of the Agora Excavations in downtown Athens. I am also grateful for the pledge of support from Dr. Kyriakos Kontopoulos (Sociology Department).

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Theater of Dionysus Erechtheum Acropolis Parthenon Areopagus


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A trip north to Delphi will reveal the treacherous topography of ancient Greece, and bring new understanding to many of the historical, literary and political realities of that land (including how and why so many city-states in one small land mass the size of Alabama could be so segregated from each other and develop such individual cultures). Although the Oracle was officially put out of business by Emperor Theodosius in the fourth century A.D. as part of his plan to eradicate all things pagan, even today a great unnameable magnificence still inspires awe in all who visit. Perched upon the cliffs of Parnassos, we shall look down on the site from above and see why the Greeks thought of Delphi as the "navel of the earth" (omphalos) and why it was once full-to-bursting with votive offerings given by grateful city-states in thanks to the god Apollo for auspicious political oracles. Required reading in Pausanias, Apollodorus, Homer, the Homeric Hymn to Apollo and Pindar (who wrote his odes in the Temple of Apollo which occupies the central area of the sacred temenos) will allow students to prepare on-site reports. One lucky student will relate the foundation myth of the Pythian Games - how Apollo slew the dreaded Python - while standing in front of the mythical site of the monster's den. Another will recite Orestes' speech from Aeschylus' Libation Bearers in which he provides a greatly exaggerated report of his own death - a chariot-racing accident in the stadium at Delphi - as a prelude to the running of our own footrace in that very stadium!

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Theater Omphalos Temple of Apollo Stadium Python's Den

And then it is on to the Argolid, home of, among other things, the Palace of Agamemnon, initial setting of Aeschylus' trilogy. Students will enter the Royal House of Mycenae through the monumental Lion Gate, whose lion relief connects this place with the palace described by Aeschylus (the significance of the literary lion-motif will be carefully explored in class), just as Agamemnon did on that fateful day he returned from the Trojan War. Students will explore the remains of rooms that once echoed with the screams of Clytemnestra (as they will read). Of course, students will have already visited the National Archaeological Museum in Athens and seen the roomful of Mycenean treasures found by Heinrich Schliemann in the late 1800's. There is little to compare with the thrill of visiting and touching the patches of earth that gave forth these treasures.

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Lion Gate Palace
Aerial View of
Treasury of Atreus
Tomb of

Side trips from Athens will include archaeological sites which all figure prominently in the religious, literary, and political history of classical Greece, and which the students will be familiar with from their readings: Eleusis (home of the cult of Demeter), Tiryns (home of Heracles), Sounion (from whose promontory King Aegeus is said to have suicidally plunged, giving his name to the Aegean Sea), Nauplion (the harbor that welcomes Menelaus home from the war in Euripides’ Orestes and site of a Medieval fortress we will climb to), and Epidavros (because of that fantabulous fourth century theater, the remains of the Cult of Asklepios, and the museum full of votive body parts offered in thanks to the God of Healing).

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Eleusis Tiryns Sounion Nauplion Epidavros

The Honors Program and the GHR Classics Department are proud to lead the way in forging a new tradition at Temple University: the availability of courses with a travel component. Once the success of this venture becomes apparent, the GHR Classics Department looks forward to creating similar courses to enhance the current curriculum of non-experiential Ancient City courses (e.g., Spring 2001: Augustan Rome), and the Honors Program is committed to sponsoring a collaborative effort between Justin Vitiello (Department of French, German, Italian and Slavic Department) and myself, a joint student-trip to Sicily (Magna Graecia) and Greece as partial fulfillment of the requirements for a course we will design. A spot has already been cleared through the Honors Program for me to teach a Special Topics Course for Classics in Spring 2001. Until this grant opportunity arose, I was scheduled to teach the same course I am teaching now, Religious Foundations of Athenian Institutions (a much more restricted view of the ancient world). Both the Honors Program and the GHR Classics Department (and my students!) would rather that I make this experiential program  - our dream course - a reality, and with the help of your grant, I will have the time and resources to create a superior syllabus (including pre-visiting the museums I plan to take students to), review, collate and web-format notes and slides from previous trips to Greece in order to make them accessible to my students via the internet, plan an action-packed trip with a travel agency recommended by experienced colleagues, and iron out the necessary and inevitable details with the university. In consultation with the Chair of GHR Classics, I have determined that this course admirably fulfills their competency expectations for students such as analytical thinking, critical writing, oral presentation, peer interaction and computer skills. The full statement of Competencies for GHR Classics is on file in the CLA Dean's Office.

All photographs on this page and on this website are copyrighted by Janice Siegel and may not be reproduced or copied onto other websites without permission.

Back to Dr. J's Home Page


A Very Preliminary Syllabus for GHR CLASSICS  260 (Honors)
Topics in Classical Culture:
The Ancient Greek Cultural Nexus: Art, Archaeology, Literature and Topography
proposed course for Spring 2001

Dr. Janice Siegel
Anderson 214

Required Texts

excerpts from Homer's Iliad and Odyssey (appropriate passages will be culled for specific portions of the syllabus)
Hesiod's Theogony
Morford and Lenardon's Greek Mythology textbook
Aeschylus' Oresteia
excerpts from Pausanias' Descriptions of Greece, Vols I and II (tr. Peter Levi, NY: Penguin, 1975)
excerpts from Apollodorus' Library of Greek Mythology (tr. Keith Aldrich, Lawrence: Coronoda Press, 1975)
Homeric Hymns
(tr. Susan Shelmerdine, Focus Publishers)
Euripides' Ion
other assorted plays to be determined
The Ancient City, by Peter Connolly
Princeton Encyclopedia of Sites
Thucydides' Peloponnesian Wars
Herodotus' Histories

Topographical Sub-Sections of the Course Syllabus
reading list (paper and internet assignments) to be supplemented, but I list my own for now


Required Reading

The Ancient City (Peter Connolly) on Athens
Morford and Lenardon pp 204-205; 221-225
appropriate passages from Pausanias and Apollodorus
Bacchylides' Ode on Theseus and his exploits
Homeric Hymn to Dionysus
Appropriate excerpts from the Histories of Thucydides and Herodotus

My Study Guides

Dr. J's Illustrated Propylaia
Dr. J's Illustrated Parthenon
Dr. J's Illustrated Temple of Athena Nike
Dr. J's Illustrated Erectheum
Dr. J's Illustrated Agora
Dr. J's Illustrated South Slope
Dr. J's Illustrated Temple of Olympian Zeus
Dr. J's Illustrated Areopagus
Dr. J's Illustrated Keramikos
Dr. J's Illustrated Greek Theater
Dr. J's Illustrated Greek Drama

Surf these sites

Staging a play for the Greater Dionysia (an on-line fictional account by Dr. Walter Englert, Reed College)
Aerial view of Acropolis (Kyoto Institute of Technology, Japan)
AncientSites Tour of the AcropolisComputer-generated layout of Acropolis buildings (Kyoto Institute of Technology)
City of Athens: internet resources (Cornell University)
The Ancient City of Athens: Sites and Monuments (Kevin Glowacki)


Required Reading

Pausanias' Description of Delphi, pp 408-491
Homeric Hymn to Apollo
Pythian Odes

Study Guides

Dr. J's Illustrated Delphi
Dr. J's Lecture on Delphi as site of PanHellenic Games

Sites to surf

Democritus University's Delphi page
History of the city of Delphi

The first Delphic Hymn: Inscription and translation

Mycenae and Tiryns

Required Reading

Aeschylus' Oresteia
appropriate passages from Pausanias and Apollodorus (especially Heracles' exploits)

Study Guides

Dr. J's Illustrated Mycenae
Dr. J's Illustrated Tiryns
Dr. J's Illustrated Agamemnon
Dr. J's Illustrated Libation Bearers
Dr. J's Illustrated Eumenides

Surf these sites

Aerial views of Mycenean citadels


Required Reading

Homeric Hymn to Demeter

Study Guides: Dr. J's Illustrated Eleusis (under construction)

Sites to surf

The Deme of Eleusis (AncientSites)
Eleusis Archaeological Project