BA Ancient History

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Seneca: Philosopher, Politician and Playwright

Unit code CAHE25012
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Classics, Ancient History & Egyptology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

Lucius Annaeus Seneca lived through turbulent times in First Century CE Rome, and responded to the world around him with an astonishing range of intellectual activity, from oratory and epistolography to philosophical essays and tragedies exploring the violent extremes of human emotion. The impact of his work was felt in the next generation of Roman writers, including the epic poet, Lucan, and continued into the 21st century, influencing the development of Renaissance theatre and the 20th Century theories of Foucault.

This course examines Seneca’s philosophical and dramatic words in their historical, literary and philosophical contexts.

Pre/co-requisites

Pre: Non-linguists: none; Linguists: (at least) A-Level Latin or Intensive Latin 2.

Co: Non-linguists: none; Linguists: Students who are concurrently taking CAHE30110 Advanced Latin 1 may choose whether to take this course unit as linguist or non-linguist. Students who are concurrently taking CAHE30210 Advanced Latin 2 or CAHE30310 are expected to take the linguist version.

Anti: CAHE35012 Seneca

Aims

  • To provide students with the tools to analyse the presentation of ideas across different literary and philosophical genres.
  • To enable students to understand individual works of Seneca and contextualize this understanding in the wider literary, historical and intellectual climate of the time.
  • To enable students to understand and critically evaluate the reception history of Seneca’s works.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the issues we confront when dealing with texts in translation;
  • use appropriate terminology when discussing dramatic and philosophical issues.
  • give an account of central works of Seneca, indicating revelant passages

 

Those taking the linguistic option will also be able to translate into good English and discuss the linguistic features of Seneca’s language.

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • offer analysis of texts from a range of genres with different critical approaches;
  • synthesise material from different sources to produce diachronic and synchronic analyses.
  • engage in constructive philosophical discussion

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • present the results of their work in a professional manner with appropriate reference to sources and modern published scholarship;
  • assimilate and summarise large quantities of evidence;
  • locate and retrieve relevant information from primary sources;
  • conduct bibliographic searches;
  • engage in constructive discussion.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • construct an argument in written and oral form;
  • pose and attempt to answer questions about significant issues;
  • assimilate and summarise large quantities of evidence;
  • locate and retrieve relevant information from primary sources;
  • conduct bibliographic searches;
  • present the results in a professional manner with appropriate reference to sources and modern published scholarship;
  • use e-resources and gain knowledge of research methods and resources;
  • manage time and resources;
  • engage in constructive critical discussion.

Employability skills

Other
The course involves a large number of important employment skills, most notably an ability to analyse and examine a large amount of often difficult information, an ability to see both sides of an argument, the ability to synthesise an argument in a cogent form, the ability to retrieve information from complex sources and present it in a compelling and cogent fashion.

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative

Weighting within unit (if summative)

Commentary

Formative

 

Commentary (on text in translation for non-linguists and Latin text for linguists)

Summative

50%

Essay

Summative

50%

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on formative and summative assessment

Both

Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment).

Formative

Oral feedback in seminars

Formative

Recommended reading

Set Texts:

Wilson, E. (transl),  2010. Seneca: Six Tragedies (Oxford World’s Classics) 978-0192807069.

Davie, J. (transl), 2007 Seneca: Dialogues and Essays (Oxford World’s Classics) 978-0199552405

 

Additional texts as provided in lectures.

 

Linguists will read a smaller selection of texts in translation as well as selected passages (text provided) from Hercules Furens and De Ira.

 

Secondary Reading:

Bartsch, S. (ed.) 2015. The Cambridge Companion to Seneca.

Costa, C. (ed.) 1974. Seneca.

Dodson Robinson, E. (ed.) 2016. Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Senecan Tragedy.

Fitch, J. (ed.) 2008.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jenny Bryan Unit coordinator
Emma Griffiths Unit coordinator

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