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Western University
Classical Studies
Classical Studies 1000
Christopher Brown

1 CS 1000 – Week 1 • Sources for understanding how we experience the ancient world? • What sources can we use? o Physical o Texts: the Greeks and Romans left a lot of texts which give insight into their values. This is different because many areas did not develop texts such as these. These are useful because they give us insight from the inside How do we date things? What are our sources and the literature derived from them? How can physical remains help us? Chronology and Time-Reckoning • 1500BCE –AD 476 is the time period for this course o This reflects modern conventions o Most of us use the Gregorian calendar (Pope Gregory XIII) which is a product of the rise of Christianity so there is a division between BCE (before common era) and CE (common era) or BC (before Christ) orAD (anno domini ‘in the year of the Lord’)  BCE – we are counting down towards 0 (ex. 480 BCE, 479 BCE, 478 BCE etc.)  AD – we are counting away from 0  There is no year zero • The ancient dating system is more complex because: (1) they are more aware of the changing seasons and the starts (astronomy is part of common knowledge about the world), (2) There were many calendars for individual cities (all don’t really work which means that people in different places were naming months with different names) • The Romans brought a certain amount of order to this problem • Julian Calendar: the basis for our Gregorian calendar; the calendar that Caesar gave us had 10 months and then two more months were added underAugustus (July for Julius, August forAugustus. This is why September isn’t really the seventh month) o We use the names of these months still today • How did the ancients talk about events? – Because there was such a diversity of calendars, for an ancient writer to use a local calendar exclusively is inadequate so there are other conventions for time reckoning o (1) Events dated by a priest or magistrate  archons (elected rulers in Greece) changed year after year so when they record dates they say “this occurred when ____ was archon” o (2) Often reference is made to a particular season 2 o (3) They try to find out when things happen in relation to the present  assumptions were made based on the time occupied by a particular generation o (4) ‘Acme’system was used in biographies for recording someone’s prime (which was around age 40) o (5) Occasionally the distance is measured from some single event (ex. The first Olympics in 776 BCE, founding of Rome in 763/2BCE, the Trojan War 1183/2 BCE) o (6) Often time was expressed in terms of generations; a generation was a rough estimate of time that was often around 30 years • Modern statements of historical chronology represent a conversion of ancient modes of time reckoning to the modern o Ex. C. Caesare et M. Antonio consulibus ‘in the year when Gaius Caesar and Marcus Antonius were consuls (i.e. 15 March 44 BCE) o 13 day of the month was called the Ides expect months with 31 days in which is was the 15 th o Fasti list: list of magistrates but on stone; we still have these lists so we can look at it and see what year we would assign to this • This modern ‘fact’represents a series of interpretations Literary Sources • Languages: Latin and Greek (both dead languages) • Greek and Latin both descend from (Proto) Indo-European (a language that does not exist in any form anymore) • Language encodes culture • The Indo-European speakers seem to have moved into the Greek world some rime before the Mycenaean Age (ca. 2000 BCE) o Scholars sometimes talk about an invasion of these speakers but this is dangerous because it denotes violence o Large scale incursion of Indo-Europeans brining their language and their culture and this movement really changed the culture of the area • Their language probably displaced the indigenous language (which probably wasn’t Indo-European) but there are some pre-Greek vocabulary (i.e. non Indo- European) remaining in the lexicon of classical Greek • The ancient Greek world is geographically disparate and during the classical period there were Greeks on the islands, northAfrica and the coast ofAsia Minor and south Italy o The language of ancient Greek had many dialects and different writers use different dialects with differentiation in morphology (word forms), phonology (how words sound) and vocabulary o When we learn Greek today we learn the Greek ofAthens (Attic Greek) and this blinds us to the diversity of Greece 3 o In the Hellenistic Period (i.e. afterAlexander the Great) there was Kione Greek (Common Greek) which was the same in all areas • In Greek in Latin, word order can be irrelevant and the words themselves mean something on their own and do not use word order to make meaning • Latin is the dialect of one city (Rome) and the region around it (Latium) and it dominates (showing also the political domination of the Romans even with their language) • Latin came to be the dominant language of Italy and then later as far as the Balkans and to the East • In the middle of the 3 cent. BC there was a formal literary take on Latin called Classical Latin (the Romans called it sermo urbanus ‘urban speech’or ‘educated/urbane speech’) • Throughout the Italian world there were a lot of dialects but these different dialects didn’t make it into the literature but the sermo urbanus did The Character of Greek and Latin • Inflected languages • Extensive vocabularies • Translation is a difficult and often inexact science o We have an idea we can turn one language into another but this isn’t the case • Both more complex than modern English • Language communicates and it also excludes and defines groups and are important
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