Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE The Classical Tradition: Reverberations of Greece and Rome in the Mediterranean

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Faculty of Arts

DESCRIPTION 'Classical Tradition' is the name conventionally ascribed to the study of the processes and developments by which the cultures and languages of Greece and Rome were handed down ('tradere' in Latin) from one historical period to another. The influence of first-hand encounter with these cultures on a particular generation, especially the literary and artistic impact, constitutes a major interest within this study. In the last decades, the subject has academically developed into what is now formally described as 'Classical Receptions'. In Classical Receptions, we analyze the diverse, often implicit or round-about ways, by which the Classics were received by subsequent generations, and in turn reinterpreted, refashioned, and made into their own. It is no longer a handing-down but a two-way process, in which we can influence the Classics (or, at least, how the Classics are perceived) as much as they can influence us. Of course, this has always been the state of affairs, since the study of Classics presupposes a modified interpretation with every age (recall T.S.Eliot’s famous statement that “the past is altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past”). Only, it is now receiving the full academic recognition it deserves. To give one simple example, the name of Achilles will instantly bring to many people's mind the image of actor Brad Pitt in the film 'Troy': how does that effect our way of looking at Homer's 'Illiad'? Consequently, Receptions has enlarged the scope of Tradition considerably. On one hand, we can still study the role of Latin in Jesuit colleges all over Europe during the late Renaissance; on the other hand, the Latin motto tattooed on David Beckam's forearm is also a matter of interest to us as it can tell us a lot about the power and magic that "dead" Latin still exerts on the minds of men. This Study-unit seeks to merge the two approaches (Tradition and Receptions), especially in their manifestation within the Mediterranean context where Classical concepts and ideas first saw the light of day, and where, perhaps more evidently than elsewhere, they continue to reverberate in contemporary manners, mores and customs. The Study-unit starts by discussing the Classical Tradition in the light of Reception and the breadth of notions that the term encapsulates in terms of time, geography, culture, art, society and education. The second session gives an overview of the long history of the Latin language in the Mediterranean and European regions, its rise to stardom and slow decline through the centuries. These introductory sessions serve not only to map the bumpy course of the Classics but also to provide a convenient time-line for the rest of the Study-unit. In a broadly chronological order, other presentations explore the influence of the Classics during different political and cultural periods (Byzantium, Islamic Golden Age, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Romanticism). Other presentations investigate topics where the classical presence is strong, but perhaps only implicitly so. Such themes are Classical philosophy and modern mysticism, mythology and gender, and film-theory and practice.

Study-unit Aims:

• To give participants a concise but comprehensive understanding of the influence of the Classics from Late Antiquity to contemporary times, especially in its varied expression and appearance in the Mediterranean context;
• To make participants seek to discern the inherent impacts of Greece and Rome that reverberate in aspects of contemporary cultures and issues, particularly in the Mediterranean;
• To alert participants to the multidisciplinary approach by which Classics are studied today in a wide-ranging context.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• appraise the importance of Greece and Rome as the bedrock of Western civilization;
• outline key periods in the history of the Mediterranean where the influence of Greece and Rome was particularly inspirational and far-reaching;
• recognize the multi-faceted imprint of the Classics in contemporary culture and society;
• analyze primary sources and modern-day scholarly approaches.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• investigate the possibility of ancient origins in the analysis and discussion of modern-day issues within the Mediterranean;
• recognize the value of a dialogue with the past in order to understand the richness and complexity of the present;
• search with confidence through specialist online databases.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

C. W. Kallendorf (ed) (2010) A Companion to the Classical Tradition. Wiley-Blackwell
L. Hardwick and C. Stray (eds) (2011) A Companion to Classical Receptions. Wiley-Blackwell

A. Grafton, G. W. Most, and S. Settis (eds). (2010) The Classical Tradition. Harvard University Press
S. Price and P. Thonemann (2010) The Birth of Classical Europe: A History from Troy to Augustine. Penguin Books
G. S. Aldrete and A. Aldrete (2012) The Long Shadow of Antiquity: What Have the Greeks and Romans Done for US? London
C. F. Salazar and F. G. Gentry (eds) Brill's New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World. Brill Academic Publications


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 50%
Assignment SEM1 Yes 50%

LECTURER/S John Attard
John Charles Betts
Jurgen R. Gatt
John Grech
Marilyn Mallia
Dane Munro
Carmel Serracino
Peter Vassallo
Michael Zammit

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.