Can a hero catch a break? Yes, but it takes time.
Often described as the first adventure novel of the Western world, Homer's epic poem The Odyssey recounts the story of the hero Odysseus, driven off course on his return home from Troy. Odysseus' escapades and the struggles of his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, are aided at every turn by the goddess Athena, patroness of strategic thinking and practical wisdom. In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle gives the first systematic attempt at answering the question of how to achieve what Greek culture called "happiness" (eudaimonia), the excellence of a fully realized human life, through practical wisdom and ethical virtue. We will read these two inexhaustibly rich texts side by side, focusing on questions of ethics, leadership, and happiness on the journey home.
This class fulfills the Humanities requirement, or counts toward the concentration in Ethics and Leadership.
David Wray is an Associate Professor in the Department of Classics, the Department of Comparative Literature, and the College. He is the author of Catullus and the Poetics of Roman Manhood (Cambridge 2001), a coeditor of Seneca and the Self (Cambridge 2009), and is currently writing Ovid at the Tragic Core of Modernity. His research and teaching interests include Hellenistic and Roman poetry (especially Apollonius Rhodius, Catullus, Lucretius, Virgil, Tibullus, Ovid, Seneca, Lucan, and Statius); Greek epic and tragedy; Roman philosophy; ancient and modern relations between literature and philosophy; gender; theory and practice of literary translation; and the reception of Greco-Roman thought and literature, from Shakespeare and Corneille to Pound and Zukofsky. He is a member of the Poetry and Poetics program.