Ancient foundations for a modern lifestyle

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Society and Art in Ancient Greece and Rome, 800 BCE – 800 CE

Art History Department

Rutgers University

01: 082: 2xx

Fall 2015

Professor John Kenfield

Office Hours:

and by appointment

60 College Avenue, room 204

Course Description
Everyone living or aspiring to a modern life shares, however imperfectly, two fundamental values:  the first, a materialist philosophy founded on empiricism; the second, a civic approach that stresses democratic principles of individual rights, responsibilities and freedom of thought.  Whether the person is aware of it or not, these values are Western in origin, first appearing in the Classical civilizations of Greece and Rome.  This course will examine the appearance of those philosophies in Classical European civilization and their reflections in the art and architecture of their times.  During its final third, the course will address the reaction in Western culture against both empiricism and individual freedom, the first a rejection of materialism in favor of spiritualism, a lengthy process occasioned by a long period of crisis and the eventual adoption of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire, and the second, the rejection of democracy in the political development of both Greece and Rome in favor of the efficiencies of a supposedly benign autocrat, both issues that inform much of the political debate of the early twenty-first century.   The course will end with the rise of Islam, and the final transition of the Roman Empire into a state that might be called Byzantine.

Learning goals and Assessment


This course meets the following Core Curriculum requirements:
Areas of Inquiry

(h) Understand the bases and development of human and societal endeavors across time and place

Arts and Humanities

(p) Analyze arts and/or literatures in themselves and in relation to specific histories, values, languages, cultures, and technologies.

Cognitive Skills and Processes

(t) Communicate effectively in modes appropriate to a discipline or area of inquiry.

These learning goals will be assessed through:
1) Three one-hour exams in which the students will be asked to write extemporaneously an essay on an object or monument. The average of these three one-hour exam essays will count 30% of each student’s final grade. One one-hour exam/essay can be missed without excuse, but, if all three are taken, the lowest of the three grades will be dropped in calculating the average. No make-up hour exams will be given.
2) Course requirements also include a short paper of at least 5 pp. on an object in one of the local museums, i.e. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Princeton University Art Museum, the Newark Museum, or the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Alternatively, those venturing further afield might take advantage of other notable collections of Greek and Roman /Late Antique Art in such North American institutions as the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Sackler Art Museum at Harvard, the Rhode Island School of Design Art Museum in Providence, the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, the Cleveland Art Museum, the De Menil Collection in Houston, the J.P. Getty Museum in Los Angeles (and/or Malibu), and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, etc., etc. Counting 30% of each student's final grade, this paper is primarily an exercise in formal expository prose composition, so every care should be taken to ensure that it is well-written. This paper can be a personal analysis or one involving research on an issue the object raises. Those choosing this research option should discuss the preferred topic with Prof. Kenfield before becoming immersed in the requisite research. Any student wanting Prof. Kenfield’s recommendation for graduate school should write a research paper.

3) A series of essay questions will be given out several weeks before the final exam. Five of these questions, chosen by Kenfield, will appear on the final exam. Of these five questions, the student will be expected to answer three, chosen by the student. The final exam will count 40% of the final grade.

Lectures and readings will be available for download on Sakai.

Class Policies
Attendance: Students are expected to attend all classes; if you anticipate missing classes, please use the University absence reporting website to indicate the date and reason for your absence.  An email is automatically sent to me and repeated absences will seriously affect your final grade.
All assigned readings are required and should be completed before class to enable your full participation.
Plagiarism and academic honesty

Please familiarize yourself with the definition of plagiarism in Rutgers’s official policy statement on academy integrity: As a student in this course, you are responsible for understanding and thus avoiding the varieties of plagiarism in college writing outlined in this statement. Any student who plagiarizes will receive a zero for the given assignment and, in some cases, a failing grade for the course.

Special Needs

Please notify me if you have any documented disabilities or special circumstances that require attention, and I will be happy to accommodate you. Students with disabilities may also contact the Kreeger Learning Center directly: Kreeger Learning Center, 151 College Avenue, Suite 123, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, email:, Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 5:00pm.

Expectations for lectures

  • Arrive before the start of lecture and recitation.

  • All cell phones are to be shut off before the start of lecture and recitation.

  • Be considerate of others.

  • No texting is allowed in the classroom

  • No private conversations are allowed during the lecture

  • Knowing the material & artists we study in the lecture section of the course

  • Being prepared by attending to the reading assignments and participating in class discussion

The Department of Art History expects all its students to attend every class, except in cases of illness, religious necessity, serious family concerns, or other major problems;  that students will arrive on time, prepared to listen and participate as appropriate, and to stay for the duration of a meeting rather than drift in or out casually.  In short, we anticipate that students will show professors and fellow students maximum consideration by minimizing the disturbances that cause interruptions in the learning process.  Punctuality is a “must;” cellular phones turned off, and courtesy the guiding principle in all exchanges among students, faculty, and staff.

Study Tips

Start early, study hard, study often! You will be able to understand and process the information better if you keep up with the schedule laid out in the syllabus. Do not hesitate to ask any questions that may help your study process.

Read the books and articles listed!
Grading Scale:

A = 90 - 100

B+ = 87-89

B = 80-86

C+ = 77-79

C = 70 - 76

D = 65 - 69

F= 64 and Below

To pass this course, you must take at least two of the three hour exams, complete the paper assignment, take the final exam, and participate in class. In other words, failure to meet all the course requirements as laid out above, will result in failing the course or receipt of a T-grade.

The powerpoints used in the course will be available for download on Sakai. Each student should download every powerpoint and be prepared to discuss the cultural framework and visual impact of every artwork listed in the powerpoint. You will be required to memorize the basic information (e.g. artist, title, date, medium and/or location) for the artworks shown in the powerpoints.

Required and Optional Readings
Each section will have specific readings, either sections of books, or articles assigned to accompany it. It is your responsibility to read these materials so that you can participate in the class discussion.

You will be able to find the assigned materials either on reserve in the Art History Library or on Sakai. Readings on Sakai are often posted under an abbreviation of the title or under the author’s name. Please be aware of this when looking for a reading.

Beard, Mary and Henderson, John Classical Art: from Greece to Rome (New York

Boardman, John (ed.) The Oxford History of Classical Art (Oxford 1997).

Cormack, Robin Byzantine Art (Oxford) 2000.
Elsner, Jas Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph (Oxford 1998).
Hurwit, Jeffrey M. Art and Culture in Early Greece: 1100 – 480 B.C. (Ithaca 1985).
Morris, Ian and Powell, Barry B. The Greeks: History, Culture and Society (Upper

Saddle River 2010).

Week 1:

Lecture 1: Introduction; Art of the Aegean Bronze Age. Morris and Powell, pp.


Lecture 2: The End of the Bronze Age and Recovery; the Colonization of coastal

Asia Minor. Morris and Powell, pp. 72-77; Hurwit, pp. 15-70.
Week 2:

Lecture 3: Greek Renaissance of the Eighth Century BCE. Osborne, pp. 1-41;

Hurwit, pp. 71-124.

Lecture 4: Greek Renaissance of the Eighth Century BCE (cont.) Morris and

Powell, pp. 78-147.

Week 3:

Lecture 5: Greece and the Near East; Orientalism; Greece and Egypt. Osborne, pp.

43-67; Hurwit, pp. 125-202.

Lecture 6: Archaic Greece; Athens and Sparta. Morris and Powell, pp. 198-

Week 4:

Lecture 7: Archaic Greece; Tyranny; Athenian Democracy. Morris and Powell, pp.

150-172; Osborne, pp. 69-155.

Lecture 8: Archaic Greece; The Struggle with Persia; Ionian Philosophy and

Pythagoras; the Rising Importance of Magna Graecia and Sicily.

Morris and Powell, pp. 174-196; Alan Johnston “Pre-Classical Greece”

The Oxford History of Classical Art pp. 11-82; Hurwit, pp. 203-272.

Week 5:

Lecture 9: The Persian Wars and Classical Humanism. Osborne, pp. 157-203;

Morris and Powell, pp. 225-271; Hurwit, pp. 273-355.

Lecture 10: Hour Exam

Week 6:

Lecture 11: The Athenian Empire; the Peloponnesian War. Morris and Powell, pp.


Lecture 12: Late Classical Greek culture; the decline of democracy and the search

for a strongman. Osborne, pp. 205-242; Morris and Powell, pp. 369-


Lecture 13: Alexander the Great and the Conquest of the Persian Empire.

J. Boardman “The Classical Period” The Oxford History of Classical

Art pp. 83-150; Morris and Powell, pp. 406-443.
Week 7:

Lecture 14: The Hellenistic World; a new multi-ethnic society and it effects on the

arts. R.R.R. Smith “The Hellenistic Period” The Oxford History of

Classical Art pp. 150-216; Morris and Powell, pp. 445-505.

Lecture 15: Republican Rome, a plutocratic democracy; the crisis of the Hannibalic

Wars. J.J. Pollitt “Rome: the Republic and Early Empire” The Oxford

History of Classical Art pp. 217-295.

Week 8:

Lecture 16: Republican Rome; “captive Greece takes captive her barbarian captor.”

Morris and Powell, pp. 507-538.

Lecture 17: Hour Exam.

Week 9:

Lecture 18: Early Imperial Rome; the Principate “primus inter pares.” Elsner, pp.


Lecture 19: The Adoptive Emperors: Trajan, Hadrian and the Antonines. Elsner,

pp. 1-87.
Week 10:

Lecture 20: The Dominate: the Severan Dynasty, the Barracks Emperors; the

German problem. Elsner, pp. 89-165.

Lecture 21: Rome’s Transformation from Paganism to Christianity; Empiricism vs.

Spiritualism. Elsner, pp. 89-165.

Week 11:

Lecture 22: The Tetrarchy and Anti-Classical Art. Elsner, pp. 169-259.

Lecture 23: Constantine and the Edict of Toleration; Constantinople, the new

Christian Rome. Elsner, pp. 169-259

Week 12:

Lecture 24: Theodosian Constantinople and the Theodosian Renascence. Cormack,

pp. 1-35.

Lecture 25: Hour Exam.

Week 13:

Lecture 26: Ravenna; the Germanization of the Western Empire. Janet

Huskinson “The Later Roman Period” The Oxford History of

Classical Art pp. 297-344.

Lecture 27: Justinian I and the art of his reign; Overextension of the Empire.

Cormack, pp. 37-73.
Week 14:

Lecture 28: Papers Due. Heraklios and God’s Chosen People; the rise of Islam and

a Dynamic New religion; the Arab search for a new monumental art

visualizing Islamic belief. Cormack, pp. 75-102.

Bibliography for additional readings:
Barletta, Barbara A. The Origins of the Greek Architectural Orders (New York 2001).
Boardman, John Early Greek Vase Painting (London 1998).
Bookidis, Nancy A Study of the Use and Geographical Distribution of Architectural Sculpture in the Archaic Period (Greece, East Greece and Magna Graecia) (Diss. Bryn Mawr College 1967.
Brandt, J.R. and Karlsson, L. (eds.) From Huts to Houses. Transformations of Ancient Societies (Stockholm 2001).
Brown, Peter The World of Late Antiquity (New York 1989).
Brubaker, Leslie and Haldon, John Byzantium in the Iconoclastic Era ca. 689-850: A History (Cambridge 2011).
Carlsen, J., Due, B., Due, O.S., and Poulsen, B. Alexander the Great: Reality and Myth = Analecta Romana Instituti Danici, Roma, suppl. XX (Rome 1992).
Childs, W.A.P. and Meyer, Hugo (eds.) Reading Greek Art: Essays by Nikolaus Himmelmann (Princeton 1998).
Cohen, Ada The Alexander Mosaic: Stories of Victory and Defeat (Cambridge 1997).
Coldstream, J. N. Geometric Greece (London 1977).
Crone, Patricia and Cook, Michael Hagarism: the Making of the Islamic World (Cambridge 1977).
Crone, Patricia God’s Caliph: Religious Authority in the first centuries of Islam (Cambridge 1986).
Crone, Patricia God’s Rule: Government and Islam (New York 2004).
Deger-Jalkotzy, S. and Lemos, I. (eds.) Ancient Greece: From the Mycenaean Palaces to the Age of Homer (Edinburgh 2006).
De Grummond, N.T. and Ridgway, B.S. (eds.) From Pergamon to Sperlonga (Berkeley 2000).
Dreyfus, R. and Schrandolph, E. (eds.) Pergamon. The Telephos Frieze from the Great Altar, vol. 1. Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (San Francisco 1996).
Dunbabin, Katherine, M.D. Mosaics of the Greek and Roman World (Cambridge 1999).
Finkelberg, Margalit Greeks and Pre-Greeks: Aegean Prehistory and the Heroic Greek Tradition (Cambridge 2005).
Finley, M.I. Early Greece: the Bronze and Archaic Ages (New York 1981).
Fowler, Barbara H. The Hellenistic Aesthetic (Madison 1989).
Fyfe, T. Hellenistic Architecture: An Introductory Study (Chicago 1974).
Gantz, T. Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources (Baltimore 1993).
Haldon, John Byzantium in the Seventh Century: the Transformation of a Culture (Cambridge 1997).
Jeppesen, K. The Mausolleion at Halikarnassos. Reports of the Danish Archaeological Expedition to Bodrum (Höjbjerg 2000).
Kitzinger, Ernst Byzantine Art in the Making (London 1977).
Koester, H. (ed.) Pergamon, Citadel of the Gods: Archaeological Record, Literary Description, and Religious Development (Harrisburg 1998).
Lattimore, S. “Art and Architecture” in Tritle, L.A. (ed.) The Greek World in the Fourth Century: From the Fall of the Athenian Empire to the Successors of A lexander (London 1997) 249-282.
Lowden, John Early Christian and Byzantine Art (London 1997).
Maguire, Henry Icons of Their Bodies (Princeton 2000).
Mathews, Thomas F. Byzantium from Antiquity to the Renaissance (Upper Saddle River 1998).
Mazarakis Ainian, A. From Ruler’s Dwellings to Temples: Architecture, Religion and Society in Early Iron Age Greece (1100-700 B.C.)(Jonsered 1997).
McKenzie, Judith The Architecture of Petra (Oxford 1990).
Miller-Collett, S. The Tomb of Lyson and Kallikles (Mainz 1993).
Mørkholm, Otto Early Hellenistic Coinage: From the Accession of Alexander to the Peace of Apamea (Cambridge 1991).
Moreno, Paolo Apelles: the Alexander Mosaic (Milan 2001).
Morris, S.P. The Black and White Style: Athens and Aegina in the Orientlizing Period (New Haven 1984).
Morris, S.P. Daidalos and the Origins of Greek Art (Princeton 1992).
Murray, O. Early Greece (Stanford 1980).
Nielsen, Inge The Hellenistic Palaces: Tradition and Renewal (Aarhus 1999).
Palagia, O. and Coulson, W. (eds.) Regional Schools in Hellenistic Sculpture: Proceedings of an International Conference held at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, March 15-17, 1996 (Oxford 1998).
Ridgway, B.S. The Archaic Style in Greek Sculture (Princeton 1977).
Ridgway, B.S. Fifth Century Styles in Greek Sculpture (Princeton 1981).
Ridgway, B.S. Fourth Century Styles in Greek Sculpture (Madison 1997).
Ridgway,B.S. Hellenistic Sculpture vol. 1: The Styles of 331-200B.C. (Madison 1990).
Ridgway, B.S. Hellenistic Sculpture vol. 2: The Styles of ca. 200-100 B.C. (Madison 2000).
Ridgway, B.S. Hellenistic Sculpture vol. 3: The Styles of ca. 100-31 B.C. (Madison 2002).
Ridgway, B.S. Roman Copies of Greek Sculpture: The Problem of the Originals (Ann Arbor 1984).
Rodley, Lyn Byzantine Art and Architecture (Cambridge 1994).
Shanks, M. Art and the Greek City State: An Interpretive Archaeology (Cambridge 1999).
Shapiro, H. A. (ed.)Cambridge Companion to Archaic Greece (Cambridge 2007).
Smith, R.R.R. Hellenistic Royal Portraits (Oxford 1988).
Snodgrass, A.M. Archaic Greece: The Age of Experimentation (Berkeley 1980).
Snodgrass, A.M. Homer and the Artists: Text and Picture in Early Greek Art (Cambridge 1998).
Stewart, A.F. Faces of Power: Alexander’s Image and Hellenistic Politics (Berkeley 1993).
Stewart, A.F. Greek Sculpture; An Exploration (New Haven 1990).
Tshibidou-Arloniti, M. “Excavating a Painted Macedonian Tomb,” in Stamatopoulou, Maria and Yeroulanou, Marina (eds.) Excavating Classical Culture: Recent Archaeological Discoveries in Greece (Oxford 2002).
Uhlenbrock, J.P. The Coroplast’s Art: Greek Terracottas of the Hellenistic World (New Rochelle 1990).
Webb, Pamela A. Hellenistic Architectural Sculpture: Figural Motifs in Western Anatolia and the Aegean Islands (Madison 1996).
Westlake, R. “Pavimenta atque emblemata vermiculata: Regional Styles in Hellenistic Mosaic and the First Mosaics at Pompeii,” AJA 104 (2000) 255-275.
Wilcken, Ulrich Alexander the Great (New York 1967).

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