The RILA spring semester is a comprehensive set of courses tailored to the Roman context. The sequence is carefully designed to expose students to great written works, and great works of art and architecture, from the periods in which Rome was most relevant, namely, antiquity, middle ages, renaissance.
Classes are structured as seminars, discussion-based classes that meet in small groups led by a faculty member. The setting allows for a deeper inspection of the texts and issues studied, as well as a high level of student participation.
Beauty has always been intertwined with divine reality, from Plato’s Symposium and Phaedrus to Dante’s Comedy. But beauty and the sacred often have had a complex relationship, both in religion and in philosophy. And some moderns have even claimed that beauty was a thing of the past, and that art is dead. So, what significance should the beautiful have in philosophy? And more generally, what relation does beauty have to the sacred? What is the difference between idol and icon? We will address such questions in our classes and excursions in Rome.
Greek political theory addressed life in small city-states. But the vast size of the Roman Empire presented political thought with new problems and questions of particular relevance to our own enormous modern political communities. Can a republic thrive and survive as it expands? Also, the development of empires from city-states impacted even on the kinds of ideals and human beings that could grow within them. What vices and what virtues are characteristic of the Republic, which of an Empire? And what aspects of Rome’s development speak to moderns?