CLAS 210-01: Classical Literature: Love and Friendship in the Classical World (.5 Credit)

MEETING DAYS, TIMES, AND PLACE: MWF, 10:00-10:50, Wallace 115, for the first half of the semester



Dr. Robert Holschuh Simmons

Office: 21 Wallace Hall

Office Phone:  309-457-2378


Office Hours: Monday-Friday 11-11:50 AM, and by appointment.




This course is designed for anyone interested in understanding love and friendship as they were understood in ancient Greece and Rome.  We will read a number of ancient Greek and Roman sources that depict people attached to one another through love or friendship, as well as philosophical discussions of both types of relationships, and discuss them in light of modern conceptions of friendship and love.  It will be particularly well-suited for students who like to be intellectually active and interactive—much of the value in this course will come through students’ engagement with texts and other course material through discussion and class activities. 



Love and friendship are present the world over, but each culture has its own take on their dynamics.  This course will explore ways that love and friendship were practiced in classical Greece and Rome.  We will analyze for ourselves what love and friendship meant in classical Greece and Rome by looking at examples of famous lovers such as Odysseus and Penelope in Homer’s Odyssey and Catullus and Lesbia in Catullus’ poems, and famous friends such as Achilles and Patroclus in Homer’s Iliad. And we will square their portrayals with the philosophical studies of love and friendship in Plato and Aristotle.  We will find that some aspects of relationships of this sort are consistent from the ancient world to our own, but others mark these cultures as just as distinct from ours as the time and space separating us might suggest. This class fulfills half of the Beauty and Meaning in Works of Art requirement, and can be used toward majors in Classics, Latin, or Greek. 


One caution: this course will be dealing with a number of topics that were prominent parts of Greek and Roman life through the centuries, some of which may make certain people uncomfortable.  Among things that may make some students uncomfortable about our readings, video clips (if I decide to show any), and other ideas presented and/or discussed in class are the following: violent behavior in the readings and in some video clips; depictions of male and female nudity in ancient vase paintings, and brief nudity in contemporary film (again, if I decide to show any); portrayals of ancient slavery in our readings; and ancient stereotypes of sexes and cultures that come up in readings, which we will discuss in class.  While I will do my best to make our discussions inclusive, kind, and academic, some of the content of this course may not be ideal for students who are particularly sensitive to the sorts of matters mentioned above.  If you take issue with any of the material or discussions in this course, please contact me.



Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to do the following, and more:

1)      Understand a range of aspects of love and friendship in the Greek and Roman worlds, including terminology used to capture various nuances of them in those worlds.

2)      Know several of the primary sources (mostly written, but also some visual) from which we can come to understand love and friendship in the classical world as we do.

3)      Analyze those primary sources in speech and writing to understand them as literature/art and as documents of their times and cultural contexts.

4)      Examine social, cultural, and historical factors influencing ancient Greek and Roman understandings of love and friendship.

5)      Explain connections and overlaps between love and friendship in the ancient and modern worlds.



1)      Think critically about the Classical World, including knowing what questions to ask and how to answer them.

3)  Know the broad overview of Greek and Roman history (the difference between the Republic and Imperial periods, for example), the values prevailing within each culture and period, and the factors that led to changes in the political, social, and economic structures.

4)  Be familiar with Classical literature, including the major authors, genres, groupings, and relationship of literature to history and culture.

5)  Understand the role of Classics in the modern world.




This will be a highly active and interactive class.  We will be spending a lot of time talking and writing about the things we have read and otherwise learned for, and in, class.  Thus it is critical that you be willing to take active part in class, both intellectually and physically.  To do the best job in carrying out class activities, it will be important for you to be well prepared for each class.  Thus a significant part of your grade will come from your participation in class and your preparation for it.  Your grade in this category will be based on a combination of my observations and notes and your own assessment of your performance in this area. 


To help both you and me keep up with your preparation and participation throughout the semester, you will have your own Preparation and Participation (P&P) folder that contains a self-assessment instrument.  At the beginning of each class, you will write in a score for yourself for your level of preparation for the class, and at the end of each class period, you will assess your participation based on your engagement in class, the quantity and quality of your contributions to class discussion, etc.  I will review your self-assessments and, if needed, alter them to reflect my assessment of your participation based on observation and evidence.  At one or more points in the class, you may need to provide an overall assessment of your preparation and participation based on your daily logs.  At the end of the term, I will average the daily scores, consider your written assessments, and incorporate my own observations to determine your final Preparation and Participation grade.



Because attendance is crucial to your success, and because our class meetings are where a great deal of the course’s value comes, I will hold you to a high standard of attendance.  You may occasionally, however, need to miss a class for illness or other reasons.  Thus you will not be penalized for your first two absences, whatever the reason for them.  If you miss more than two classes, however, your grade or status in the class will be affected according to the following parameters:

Normally, the two-absence cushion should account for matters outside of your control that would keep you from attending class, so the third one, even if it could be excusable on its own, serves as the consequence for classes missed previously that were within your control, and it underscores the importance of your being present: any absence, for whatever the reason, detracts from your learning in the class.  However, I recognize that a person can, at times, run into circumstances that can keep her or him out of class on several occasions without any fault on the student’s part.  If your first two absences were all due to debilitating or contagious illness, family emergency, mandatory religious obligation, or participation in an authorized College activity (for any of which I may require documentation), I will not penalize you for a third absence either, if that also was precipitated by one of those circumstances.  For absences beyond the first two that you believe should be excused, you should contact me beforehand if you are in position to know about the absences in advance (such as if you have a mandatory religious or College obligation); if the absence is the result of an emergency, you should notify me within three days of the missed class.  Please speak with me if you have a different reason for your absence that you think may be excusable.  I will be the sole arbiter as to whether an absence will be considered excused.  Further details:


quizzes and In-Class Writing:

Because it is critical that people are well-prepared for class in order for the events we will do in class to work out, I will regularly have you either take a short quiz on your reading or write for a few minutes in response to the reading; writing assignments will generally be in response to questions that I have assigned along with your reading.  MISSED QUIZZES AND WRITING ASSIGNMENTS MAY NOT BE MADE UP, unless you have missed such an assessment for reasons that were fully justifiable and over which you had no control.  (I will be the one who determines whether your circumstance justifies any mercy.)  However, I will drop students’ two lowest scores, including missed assignments, in tabulating their final grade. 



There will be one exam, covering assigned readings and the content of class activities, discussions, and lectures, including visual images.  Missed exams may be made up only if missed for one of the following reasons, and only with appropriate documentation: debilitating illness, family emergency, mandatory religious obligation, or participation in authorized College activities.  Please speak with me if you have a different reason for your absence that you think may be excusable.  You must make every effort to contact me before the exam if a make-up is necessary, and you must take the make-up exam within five class days of the scheduled date. 



You will undertake one project (most likely alone, although some projects may be justifiable with partners) in which you will demonstrate your mastery of significant aspects of the course through writing and perhaps other means as well.   The project will likely ask you to adapt a contemporary story of love or friendship to one that includes aspects of love and friendship as they were understood in Greece and Rome, and an explanation of how you have included those aspects of love and friendship in your story.  Specific details of this assignment will be forthcoming.  While you will have several steps building up to the final draft, you will hand in the final draft and present your work (in brief form) during our final exam meeting, on Friday, March 3, most likely at our normal class meeting time.


Grade Breakdown:      Preparation and participation       20%

                                                Quizzes and in-class writing         20%

                                                Exam                                            30%

                                                Project                                          30%


Percentage/Grade Equivalents:

98+   = A+     87-89 = B+     77-79 = C+     67-69 = D+    59 and below = F

93-97 = A       83-86 = B        73-76 = C        63-66 = D      

90-92 = A-      80-82 = B-      70-72 = C-      60-62 = D-



Plato, Symposium, translated by Robin Waterfield (Oxford, 1994).

Many more texts that are, or will be, posted on Moodle.


course engagement expectations:

This course is scheduled to meet 3 days per week for 50 minutes each for seven weeks.  You should expect to spend on course reading, homework, memorization, etc. approximately two hours outside of class for every hour in class. Assigned activities may take each student a different amount of time to finish; however, the weekly average for all students in the course for those matters should be 7.5 hours.  Intensive studying for the exam and preparation for your project will be in addition to the standard weekly preparation, but will likely average out to an extra four hours per week.  The time estimates for the course thus break down as follows:


            In class activities                                                                                 2.5 hours

            Homework, review of course material, and class preparation             5.0 hours

            Intensive studying and preparing for the project (averaged out)          4.0 hours

Average per week:                                                                            11.5 hours


class behavior Expectations:

To maintain a classroom environment in which everyone can learn, please show the respect and courtesy to others that you would expect in turn.  Here are a few of the ways in which you can show respect and courtesy:

·        Be in your seat on time for class, and remain for the duration of each class.

·        Have a notebook, pen, and relevant materials out and ready to use throughout class.

·        Be ready to answer questions about the day’s homework and other relevant subjects, to work on in-class assignments individually and with peers, and to share your work in small groups with the whole class.

·        Remain quiet while I or others in class are speaking.

·        Show support for those who speak in class by your demeanor and body language.

·        Focus on the content of the class, not on personal electronic devices; all such items should be turned off and packed away during class, unless they are being used for class matters, in a way that is not distracting to your classmates or me.

·        You may eat and drink in class, but only if it is not distracting to other students or me.

E-mail Courtesies:

When sending me e-mail, please observe the following courtesies:

·        Begin the message with a salutation of some sort (Dr. Simmons, Prof. Simmons, Mr. Simmons, etc.).

·        Include a reasonably accurate subject line.

·        Capitalize and punctuate where appropriate, and proofread to make sure that you are communicating clearly.

·        At the end of the message, please identify yourself by the name by which I know you (first name or nickname).

I will get back to you as soon as I can.  Sometimes a response will be immediate; on other occasions it may take me several hours, and quite possibly a full day if you write late in the day, at night, or on a weekend, if I need to give some thought to a response before providing one, or if I simply have other things I need to get done before I can get to e-mails.


Special Needs: 

Anyone who has a special need that may require some modification of seating, testing, or other class requirements should see me as soon as possible.  I will be pleased to make the appropriate arrangements in consultation with you.  Depending on the modification, you may need to be registered with Disability Support Services.   


Disability Support Services:

If you have a disability or had academic accommodations in high school or another college, you may be eligible for academic accommodations at Monmouth College under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Monmouth College is committed to equal educational access.  Students with disabilities can apply for accommodations at the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC). The TLC is located on the 2nd floor of Poling Hall. For more information, call 309-457-2257 or connect online at


Academic honesty:  

From the Monmouth College Academic Honesty Policy:  “We view academic dishonesty as a threat to the integrity and intellectual mission of our institution. Any breach of the academic honesty policy – either intentionally or unintentionally – will be taken seriously and may result not only in failure in the course, but in suspension or expulsion from the college.  It is each student’s responsibility to read, understand and comply with the general academic honesty policy at Monmouth College, as defined here in the Scots Guide, and to the specific guidelines for each course, as elaborated on the professor’s syllabus.


“The following areas are examples of violations of the academic honesty policy: 


  1. Cheating on tests, labs, etc;
  2. Plagiarism, i.e., using the words, ideas, writing, or work of another without giving appropriate credit;
  3. Improper collaboration between students, i.e., not doing one’s own work on outside assignments specified as group projects by the instructor;
  4. Submitting work previously submitted in another course, without previous authorization by the instructor.


Please note that this list is not intended to be exhaustive.”


The complete Monmouth College Academic Honesty Policy can be found on the College web page by clicking on “Student Life” then on “Student Handbook” in the navigation bar on the top of the page, then “Academic Regulations” in the navigation bar at the left.  Or you can visit the web page directly by typing in this URL:


In this course, any violation of the academic honesty policy will have varying consequences depending on the severity of the infraction as judged by the instructor.  Minimally, a violation will result in an “F” or 0 points on the assignment in question. Additionally, the student’s course grade may be lowered by one letter grade.  In severe cases, the student will be assigned a course grade of “F” and dismissed from the class.  All cases of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Associate Dean, who may decide to recommend further action to the Admissions and Academic Status Committee, including suspension or dismissal.  It is assumed that students will educate themselves regarding what is considered to be academic dishonesty, so excuses or claims of ignorance will not mitigate the consequences of any violations.


Help outside of class:

You should not hesitate to talk with me about any difficulties you are having—this course is challenging, and I want to help you do the best you can at it.  Speak with me as soon as you are having trouble; letting a problem fester is likely to make it worse.  Also, there is help available at the locations below. 


Teaching & Learning Center:
The Teaching and Learning Center offers FREE resources to assist Monmouth College students with their academic success. Programs include Supplemental Instruction for difficult classes, drop-in and appointment tutoring, and individual academic coaching. The TLC is here to help students excel academically. TLC services are not just for struggling students, but can assist all students to get better grades, practice stronger study skills, and manage time.


Visit Kam Williams (Director of Academic Support Programs and Student Disability Services) and Rita Schwass (TLC secretary) at the TLC on 2nd floor Poling Hall from 8am-4:30pm or online at  Kam can be reached at or 309-457-2214, and Rita can be reached at or 309-457-2213.  Like the TLC on Facebook:

Writing Center:

The Monmouth College Writing Center offers unlimited, free peer tutoring sessions for students at Monmouth College.  Peer writing tutors work with writers from any major, of any writing ability, on any type of writing assignment, and at any stage of their writing processes, from planning to drafting to revising to editing.  It is located on the 3rd floor of the Mellinger Teaching and Learning Center, and we are open Sunday-Thursday 7-10pm and Monday-Thursday 3-5pm on a first-come, first-served basis.  No appointment necessary!  Learn more about the Writing Center at its website:


Speech Tutors:

Speech Tutors are available on a limited basis in the Writing Center to work with students who are preparing for a presentation in any course.  Speech Tutors can help fine-tune thesis statements, review outlines, suggest organizational strategies, provide feedback about visual aids, help students develop ways to manage speech anxiety, and watch speech practice sessions.  For information about tutor availability, visit the Writing Center’s website at


Schedule of Assignments:

Note: The assignments below are due on the days on which they are listed.  If there is no other instruction given, you are to do the following:


Day 1 (Monday, January 16)

·     MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY (classes in session)

·         Introduction to the class



Day 2 (Wednesday, January 18)

Assignments due today:

·     Readings depicting male friendship from Homer’s Iliad (on Moodle)


Day 3 (Friday, January 20)

Assignments due today:

·     Readings depicting female friendship from Sappho, Homer’s Odyssey, Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, and Vergil’s Aeneid (on Moodle)

·     Last day to drop courses without a fee


Day 4 (Monday, January 23)

·     Readings depicting early/passionate love from Sappho, Homer’s Iliad, Sappho’s poems, Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, and Vergil’s Aeneid (on Moodle)


Day 5 (Wednesday, January 25)

Assignments due today:

·     Review of male friendship, female friendship, and early/passionate love—review the first three days’ readings while attending to the day’s discussion questions (on Moodle)


Day 6 (Friday, January 27)

Assignments due today:

·     Readings depicting mature love from Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and Euripides’ Electra (on Moodle)


Day 7 (Monday, January 30)

·     Readings depicting a full cycle of love in Catullus’s poems (on Moodle)

·     Optional, but worth extra credit if you attend and write a one-page summary/response:

·        “Medieval Maritime Networks: Tracing Connections in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea,” Michelle Damian, Assistant Professor of History, Monmouth College (

·        7:30 P.M., Pattee Auditorium, CSB


Day 8 (Wednesday, February 1)

Assignments due today:

·     Philosophical approaches to friendship: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Book VIII, Chapters 1-8 (pp. 143-154) (on Moodle)


Day 9 (Friday, February 3)

Assignments due today:

·     Philosophical approaches to friendship: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Book VIII, Chapters 9-14, and Book IX, Chapters 1-3 (pp. 154-167) (on Moodle)


Day 10 (Monday, February 6)

·     Philosophical approaches to friendship: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Book IX, Chapters 4-10 (pp. 167-180) (on Moodle)


Day 11 (Wednesday, February 8)

Assignments due today:

·     Philosophical approaches to love: Plato’s Symposium 172a-185c (pp. 3-19)


Day 12 (Friday, February 10)

Assignments due today:

·     Philosophical approaches to love: Plato’s Symposium 185c-197e (pp. 19-36)

·   Optional, but I would be happy to see you there:

·        Cider with Classics: Lupercalia/Valentine’s Day/Homecoming from abroad edition

·        3-4 PM, Wallace 102


Day 13 (Monday, February 13)

·     Philosophical approaches to love: Plato’s Symposium 198a-212c (pp. 36-56)


Day 14 (Wednesday, February 15)

Assignments due today:

·     Philosophical approaches to love: Plato’s Symposium 212c-223d (pp. 56-72)


Day 15 (Friday, February 17)

Assignments due today:

·     Applying philosophies of friendship and love to ancient practice: Euripides, Alcestis pp. 3-32 (lines 1-643) (on Moodle)


Day 16 (Monday, February 20)

·     Applying philosophies of friendship and love to ancient practice: Euripides, Alcestis pp. 95-128 (lines 644-1228) (on Moodle)


Day 17 (Wednesday, February 22)

Assignments due today:



Day 18 (Friday, February 24)

Assignments due today:

·     Plan of course project due


Day 19 (Monday, February 27)

·     Draft of course project due

·     Optional, but strongly encouraged, and attending the talk is worth extra credit (I don’t even need to see a one-page summary/response—just be there for the whole talk):

·        7:30 PM in Pattee Auditorium: talk by Dr. Kathleen Coleman (Harvard University) on gladiators (“Defeat in the Arena”)


Day 20 (Wednesday, March 1)

Assignments due today:

·     Revised draft of course project due


Day 21 (Friday, March 3)

Assignments due today:

·     Final draft of course project and all of its component pieces is due

·     Present course projects to the class


Information on the syllabus is subject to change throughout the term.  I will alert you of any changes, and I will give substantial changes to you in writing.