Skidmore College
Classics 201:  The Oratory of Cicero
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Course syllabus
 
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Course syllabus
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Course timetableOnline resourcesReturn to the CL 201homepage
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Instructor's information
Overview of the course
Objectives of the course
Required texts
Requirements, grading, expectations, and policies
 
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Instructor:  Professor Dan Curley
Office:  208b Harder Hall
Hours:  TTh 12:35-1:30 p.m., and by appointment
Phone:  580-5463
Email:  dcurley@scott.skidmore.edu
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Overview.  In this course students continue their acquisition of Latin grammar, syntax, and vocabulary by reading the oratory of Marcus Tullius Cicero, who was arguably the greatest Roman author of all.  The core texts are Cicero’s first and second Orations against Catiline, in which he describes and denounces one of the most perilous episodes—so he says—in the history of the Roman Republic:   the conspiracy led by L. Sergius Catiline in 63 BCE.  We shall devote special attention to the conspiracy itself:  the conspirators, their plot, and its consequences for the Republic.
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    Objectives.  The specific goals for this course are as follows:
  • to learn advanced Latin grammar, syntax, and vocabulary;
  • to appreciate the composition and style of Latin prose;
  • to understand the content, form, and scope of Ciceronian oratory;  and
  • to discern the historical and cultural concerns within Cicero's rhetoric.
  • Furthermore, students will obtain and exercise the following skills:
  • to read literature critically, with sensitivity and precision;
  • to communicate critical thinking in presentations and written assignments;
  • to plan, execute, and complete a long-term project; and
  • to engage in and to facilitate group discussions and activities.
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    Texts.  All are required.
    [blank] Cicero (Gould & Whiteley, edd.) In Catilinam I & II.
    Cicero (tr. Grant) Selected Political Speeches.
    Saylor, S. Catilina's Riddle.
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    Reading quizzes
    Final examination
    Semester project:  Anatomy of a conspiracy
    Class participation
    Mystery novel:  Catilina's Riddle
    Extra credit option
     
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    Requirements, Grading, Expectations, and Policies.
      Quizzes:  40% (10% each)
       
      Four long quizzes (think of them as small exams) are scheduled roughly every three weeks.  You may expect each quiz to test your comprehension of the reading to date, including grammar and syntax.  See the Timetable for dates.

      Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to correct your mistakes on the quizzes for half credit.  For example, if you scored only 50% on a quiz, and you managed to correct your errors, your actual score would be a 75%.

      Final examination (13 May, 9:00 a.m.):  20%
       
      Since one of the objectives for this course is to give you a sense of Cicero's style, the final exam will test your ability to read selections of his rhetoric that we have not read in class.  The passages will be of average difficulty, and will reflect what we have observed throughout the term.  More information, including the date, soon.
      Semester project—
      Anatomy of a conspiracy:  20%
       
      Our ongoing project this term will be to reconstruct the Catilinarian conspiracies in all their shadowy glory.  Toward this end, we shall devote several Friday sessions to various discussions and short presentations.

      The session dates are listed in the Timetable.

      To view the Conspiracy project page, click here.

      The write-ups for each session will be posted online:
       

      Class participation:  20%
       
      Class participation involves more than just attendance.  You must also keep up with the readings and assignments, and participate actively during our sessions.  Furthermore, I expect that you will come to class on time and that you will maintain an environment that promotes the exchange of ideas.

      In my language classes I am very particular about the way translation is conducted.  First, I ask that you not write translations of any kind, nor any grammatical notes, in your texts.  This may be done elsewhere, of course, in a notebook or on flash cards or via some other system.  Second, when you are called upon to translate, please do not read from a prepared translation.  You will learn best by looking at the Latin—and only the Latin.

      From time to time I shall ask you to prepare short presentations or assignments;  these will count toward the class participation grade, except when related to our semester project.

      In all of my classes I adhere to strict attendance and late work policies. Click here to view them.

      Mystery novel: Catilina's Riddle
       
      In order to enhance our understanding of Catiline's conspiracy, we shall read Steven Saylor's Catilina's Riddle, which is one of his series starring Gordianus the Finder, an ancient Roman "detective."  We shall devote as much time as we can to discussion of the novel (tentative dates are listed in the Timetable).  Such discussions will count toward your class participation grade.
       


      For more on Steven Saylor and his works, click here.

      Extra credit option:
       
      As I noted above, success in this course depends on your ability to organize vast amounts of information within your head.  To encourage the treading of a straight and narrow path, I am offering an extra-credit bounty (5%) at the end of term to any and all who can demonstrate to me that they have employed a systematic approach to memorizing vocabulary and grammar.  A system might include flashcards, notebooks, computer databases, or a combination of these things.

      Most important is that you find a study system that works for you—and that you stick with it.


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    Last modified 20 March 1999