Great Buildings of Ancient Greece and Rome
Angell Aud D
MTWTh 10:00am - 11:30am
4 Credit Lecture

The celebrated 20th century architect Le Corbusier described the Athenian acropolis as a place that "harbors the essence of artistic thought." Henry James wrote of the Pantheon in Rome that "the huge dusky dome seems to the spiritual ear to hold a vague reverberation of pagan worship, as a shell picked up on the beach holds the rumor of the sea." Why do we still find ancient buildings so evocative? What can we learn about the civilizations of Greece and Rome through the study of their architectural monuments? How has the classical heritage continued to influence later architecture not only in Europe but across the world? This course introduces students to the study of classical civilization though the history of architecture; at the same time, it provides an introduction to the study of architecture through a survey of the Classical tradition; and it highlights the contributions that classical archaeology has made both to classical studies and to architectural history. The course is organized chronologically, but rather than attempting a comprehensive treatment, it focuses in on a series of key monuments that show how architecture reflects, responds to, and articulates historical change; and that illustrate various building types, the creation and evolution of the architectural orders, the development of building technology, different approaches to town-planning, and the achievements of ancient civil engineering. The course is divided into two halves. The first half treats of the Greek tradition, from the collapse of Aegean Bronze Age civilization, to the emergence of the Greek city state, and the conquests of Alexander the Great; while the second half examines Roman architecture from the time of the Roman republic to the development of Constantinople as the new capital of a newly Christian empire. The course concludes with a consideration of the heritage of classical architecture from the Mediaeval period to the present. Buildings serve a wide range of activities: religion, politics, entertainment, family life, memory, war. They can represent huge investments of resources, and as such clearly matter a great deal to the people and peoples who make them. Buildings can be potent cultural symbols - of democracy, or of empire - and therefore objects both of great reverence and deep hatred, as recent history illustrates all too well. Architecture also exerts an almost universal fascination; images of famous Greek and Roman buildings are immediately recognizable to millions of people who have never been to Greece or Italy, and echoes of the Classical tradition are omnipresent in banks and courthouses and college classroom buildings around the world. The study of the great buildings of ancient Greece and Rome opens up valuable perspectives on Classical civilization, on the power of visual culture, and on the ways our history continues to shape our culture today. D. 1