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Spring Semester 2018

February 12th – May 11th

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. Students are required to take all four courses.

 

RILA students at the Vatican Museums
RILA students at the Vatican Museums

Course description

Courses offered are in the following areas:

  • Classics of Ancient Roman Social Thought
  • The Rhetoric and Logic of Ancient Philosophy
  • Medieval and Renaissance Thought
  • Rome: Art, Architecture, History

 

Rome has more great works of art and great monuments from more periods than any European capital. We bring this to bear on the reading and thinking we do in class.
The suite of courses carefully integrates site visits with the academic program, so as to help students take advantage of Rome’s resources. As with other RILA programs, it offers students a unique opportunity to engage in an interdisciplinary study of some of the world’s greatest works of philosophy, literature, history, and art, in a city in which these works are an integral part of its cultural heritage and where the art may be seen first hand.

Pantheon, interior
Pantheon, interior

At the end of a single semester you will find yourself not only to know the books we read in our classes, but also to have a secure familiarity with the history of art and architecture. This is true because we will use Rome as a kind of treasury of art examples from a variety of periods. Between what it produced and what it plundered from elsewhere, it has some of the greatest and most typical artworks in all the periods of western art from 500 BC to 1800 AD. And the history of architecture has always returned to Rome as a Classical model to imitate or to defy.

Students from the Integral Program in the Liberal Arts of St. Mary’s College of California click here for more information.

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Courses Spring 2018

“Classics in Ancient Roman Social and Political Thought”

Marcus Aurelius sacrificing (Capitoline Museums)
Marcus Aurelius sacrificing (Capitoline Museums)

This course explores the development of the Roman republic and empire in a variety of genres, literary, historical, and philosophical. It follows Rome from its mythical beginnings to Augustine’s Christian reflections upon its collapse.

Readings:

  • Livy, Ab Urbe Condita.
  • Polybius, Histories (Rise of the Roman Empire).
  • Sallust, The Conspiracy of Cataline.
  • Cicero, Dream of Scipio; On Laws.
  • Plutarch, Lives of Alexander, Caesar, Cato, Antony.
  • Virgil, Aeneid.
  • Tacitus, Annals.
  • Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.
  • Augustine, City of God.

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“Medieval and Renaissance Thought”

Dante e la Commedia
Dante e la Commedia

From great thinkers of the Late Middle Ages to the Renaissance, in literature, philosophy, and political theory. The readings are often connected to issues of significance in Rome, from Aquinas’ theory of law, to Dante’s theory of Rome as the center of a world empire, to Machiavelli’s cynicism about the papacy, to Shakespeare’s reflections on the new divide between public and private life in early modernity in plays like Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, and Julius Caesar. Hence Rome will suggest many insights into these works, just as these works will give us questions to frame we see in Rome.

Readings:

  • Aquinas, Summa Theologica.
  • Dante, Divine Comedy.
  • Chaucer, Canterbury Tales.
  • Machiavelli, The Prince; Discourses on the Ten Books of Livy.
  • Shakespeare, Richard III; Henry IV, part 1; As You Like It; Coriolanus; Julius Caesar; Hamlet; Othello; KingLear; Antony and Cleopatra.

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“The Rhetoric and Logic of Ancient Philosophy”

Detail from School of Athens – Plato and Aristotle
Detail from School of Athens – Plato and Aristotle

While Plato and Aristotle discovered that a system of logical rules existed at the heart of the ordinary speech we use everyday, they were also quite aware of the social context in which they pursued wisdom. Hence they learned that language has both logical and rhetorical dimensions to which the philosopher had to attend. Wewill explore questions about logic and rhetoric in a few Platonic dialogues and in Aristotle’s texts. We will study these texts slowly through close readings of short segments each day. We will also look briefly at the Roman rhetorical tradition that stemmed from them in Cicero and others.

Readings:

  • Plato, Gorgias; Sophist; Phaedrus.
  • Aristotle, selections from Categories; On Interpretation; Prior Analytics; Metaphysics; Rhetoric.
  • Logic Manual (photocopy).
  • Cicero, De Inventione.

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“Ancients and Moderns: An Introduction to Rome”

A RILA class on site
A RILA class on site

This course uses the art and architecture to focus on fundamental historical shifts leading to the modern world that are reflected in Rome, namely, antiquity vs. modernity, and the historical significance of Christianity. While the other classes are mainly in the classroom, this one is mainly on site, and is complementary to the content and the reading of the other three classes. This class will offer prep talks to help students understand the art, architecture, and history of Rome, and will often be a helpful link between the issues under discussion in other classes and the sites to be visited in Rome each week. For more details on the tours, see excursions, below.

Readings:

  • Plato, Symposium.
  • Hegel, Aesthetics (selections).
  • Course Reader: Includes very short selections to prepare students for site visits.

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Course Dates and Format

Students in Siena
Students in Siena

Courses and orientation begin Monday February 12th and will end on Thursday, May 10th. Students are required to arrive Sunday February 11th, and leave their apartments by 10am Friday May 11th.

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.

Weekends are free, with the exception of the one dedicated to an optional trip to Siena.

There will also be at least one formal guest lecture on the theme of the course.

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Tours and Excursions

Students and tutors viewing the mosaics at S. Costanza
Students and tutors viewing the mosaics at S. Costanza

Tours are built into the courses described above. Every week this will take us on two or three or more trips to sites in Rome. We will explore ancient Rome in the Forum, the Palatine Hill (where the emperorsbuilt their palaces). We will examine symbols of Roman peace like the Ara Pacis, and in other Imperial monuments. We will study the development of Greek and Roman art in the many collections of ancient art in Rome, in the Palazzo Massimo, the Palazzo Altemps, the Vatican Museums, the Capitoline Museums, and elsewhere.

Roman Forum
Roman Forum

 

Caravaggio: St. Paul’s conversion on the way to Damascus
Caravaggio: St. Paul’s conversion on the way to Damascus

We will compare the astronomical tools and cosmological implications set into ancient, medieval, and early modern buildings. We will visit a variety of ancient Churches and a catacomb. We will explore palimpsests, where each floor is built centuries before the one above it, in some cases leading to ancient pagan temples below street level medieval churches like S. Clemente and S. Cosma e Damiano. We will explore Renaissance syntheses of Classical and Christian in the many great works of Alberti, Bramante, Botticelli, Perugino, Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian and others. We will explore the birth of modern art in baroque artists and architects like Caravaggio, Borromini, and Bernini.

A small food shop of typical regional food in Tuscany
A small food shop of typical regional food in Tuscany

As well, we will take a number of all day excursions outside of Rome, to places like the medieval city of Orvieto, once a papal seat, and the home of Aquinas, with its famous frescoes by Luca Signorelli of the last judgment and scenes from Dante. We will go to Tivoli, with its vast ancient ruins of the villa of Hadrian, and other enchanting medieval and Renaissance villas and gardens that imitated his. We will visit to ancient sites like Rome’s ancient port city, Ostia Antica, and the Etruscan cities of Tarquinia and Cerveteri.

We will offer a number of optional overnight trips. We will go to the cradle of late medieval and renaissance art and architecture, Siena and Florence, a trip designed to fit closely with our readings of Dante in seminar.

Piazza del Campo - Siena
Piazza del Campo – Siena
Students having lunch in Siena
Students having lunch in Siena

Another trip will go to the breathtaking Greek temples of Paestum, along with the vast collection of ancient Greek art in the museum of Naples, which was originally a Greek colony.

Greek temples of Paestum
Greek temples of Paestum

Other trips will visit Venice and nearby Padua, where Vesalius, Harvey, and Galileo, all studied or taught, and which became the intellectual capital of Italy in the Enlightenment.

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Curriculum for SMC Integral students

The curriculum for Integral Students from SMC will vary slightly from the above. Instead of the class on Roman Social Theory (most of which is already covered in Integral’s fall semester), Integral students will take the equivalent of their spring sophomore math class. Details for that course are below:

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“Greek Mathematics and the Origin of Algebra: Apollonius to Descartes”

RILA students in front of the Pantheon
RILA students in front of the Pantheon

This class is a demonstration based, close reading of Apollonius’ Conics and Descartes Geometry. In the conics, we will cover all of book I, as well as the treatment of asymptotes of the hyperbola, some focal properties of the ellipse and hyperbola, and the locus problem. In Descartes, we will return to the locus problem and to the classification and generation of curves. In addition, we will read selections from Rules for the Direction of the Mind, Descartes’ introduction to his first collection of mathematical and scientific works (which included the Geometry).

Readings:

  • Apollonius, Conics.
  • Descartes, Geometry; Rules for the Direction of the Mind.

Prerequisite: This class requires a thorough familiarity and practice with Euclid’s Elements, and is equivalent to the spring semester of St. Mary’s Integral Sophomore Mathematics (INTEG 134).

RILA student’s thirst for knowledge
RILA student’s thirst for knowledge

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