Special Topics in Classics:

In 410 CE the Germanic tribe of Visigoths sacked the city of Rome. In response some blamed Christianity, accusing this new-fangled religion of displeasing the ancient gods and thus being the underlying cause for the violence suffered in the ancient imperial capital. From his bishopric in North Africa St. Augustine began to pen a defense of Christianity against such accusations. However, as he wrote the plan of the work expanded and in the end he composed his wellknown, massive City of God, a foundational text in Christian theology and Western philosophy. What began as a response to the apparent decline of Roman imperial power became more than just an apology for Christianity. The City of God also provides a theory of history, an outline of Augustine’s theology, and an articulation of Christianity’s alleged superiority over the philosophical systems of the ancient world, in particular, Neoplatonism. Few other individual works cover such a broad range of significant topics. This seminar will focus on St. Augustine’s City of God. Brief lectures will set out the historical, literary, and intellectual context. However, a work such as this allows for questions and conversation that go well beyond its original setting. Our focus will be the text itself and the dialogue it provokes. Topics addressed include: Augustine’s critique of Roman religion, his relationship to Virgil and other Classical authors, his engagement with Greek philosophy, Christian political theology, the Christian understanding of history, the problem of suffering, demonology, the origin of evil, the creation of the human being, Original Sin, war and peace, judgment and punishment, eschatology (the end time), envisioning God, and Augustine’s doctrine of the two cities. No Latin is required. However, the professor is willing to run a separate, extra reading group with students who have some Latin and are interested in reading selections from the work in the original.

Topics vary by semester. For additional information see the departmental website: http://classics.as.nyu.edu/page/home.html






Spring 2021

Adam Howard Becker
W: 2:00 PM - 4:45 PM ONLI

Fall 2021

Peter Meineck
R: 4:55 PM - 7:25 PM SILV 412
Joan Breton Connelly
W: 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM SILV 507