Dr. Robert C. Jeffrey
Associate Professor of Government

Govt. 495- Politics and Literature: Homer

Syllabus for Spring 2005

Dr. Robert Jeffrey
206 Daniel Building
Office Phone: x4581
Home Phone: 948-1297
E-mail: jeffreyrc@wofford.edu or rcjeffrey@home.com
Office Hours:

Required Books

The Machiavellian EnterpriseHomer, The Iliad and the Odyssey, tr. Robert Fagles

Eva Brann, Homeric Moments: Clues to Delight in Reading The Odyssey and the Iliad

John Alvis, Divine Purpose and Heroic Response in Homer and Virgil

Selected Texts from the Classics (xeroxed)

Course plan:
Week of:
February 7
Homer, Iliad, Books 1-2
February 14 
Iliad, Bks. 3-7
February 21
Iliad, Bks. 8-11
February 28
Iliad, Bks. 13-16
March 7
Iliad, Bks. 17-20
March 14
Iliad, Bks. 21-24
March 21
Homer, Odyssey, Bks. 1-4
March 28
Odyssey, Bks. 5-8
April 11
Odyssey, Bks. 9-12
April 18
  Odyssey, Bks. 13-16
April 25
Odyssey, Bks. 17-20
May 2
Odyssey, Bks. 21-24
May 9
Eva Brann, Homeric Moments, conclude
Course Requirements:
Midterm Examinations 25%
Final Examination (In Class) 25%
Term Paper 25%
Weekly Quizzes and Participation 25%

Quizzes will be given religiously every week over the readings. Also, there will be quite a bit of class discussion of the sort where I initiate questions. Students are advised to be ready to discuss the readings for the day. I have in general adhered to a schedule of reading 4-5 books of an Homeric epic every week. I will keep you posted on the reading expectation for each class. I will also be giving you the specific reading assignments from the Alvis and Brann books as the course proceeds. Finally, I recommend you try reading Homer out loud, either alone or with other students, as a way of preparing for class.

Tthe Course

Homer (along with Hesiod) famously stands at the beginning of a long line of philosophic poets and dramatists in the western tradition. Homer in fact was a teacher not just “of the Grecians,” but of Plato as well. Homer’s epics epitomize the ancient alliance between poetry and philosophy, an alliance that found its home in the Greek polis, an alliance that itself was profoundly political. Through poetry, not only were great questions discussed, but also character and intellect were formed—the sort of character and intellect that are the preconditions of the sort of civilized freedom and the sort of fusion of the best of aristocracy and democracy, that helped to form our own regime and that is at stake in the great controversies of the 21st Century. Our task will be to read carefully and engage these great texts and plumb them for their political and human wisdom. In this task I ask your help in the way of sincere effort and courageous thinking.

I expect all students to follow the new Honor Code. The application of the code’s standards to assignments in the course will be discussed in class.

Feel free to consult with me about any problem or question you might have.

Dr. Robert Jeffrey
Daniel 206
x4581 office
948-1297 home



Homepage for Dr. Robert C. Jeffrey

 Last Update: March 25,, 2005