AP/CLST 3106 6.00
Writing Lives: Graeco-Roman Biography
Crosslisted CLST 3106/HUMA 3106 6.0/RLST 3106 6.0
Why do ancient people write about the lives of others? What were ancient people doing when they wrote about themselves? This course explores biographical and autobiographical writing in the ancient Mediterranean among Greeks, Romans, and minoritized populations (including Jews and Christians) not as straightfoward and narrow descriptions of heroic figures, but as rhetorical productions and windows into cultural values and assumptions. We will consider the aims and functions of various forms of life-writing, including depictions of philosophers, politicians, and religious leaders, and we will treat early Christian biographies of Jesus (“gospels”) as part of this literary landscape. What ethnic, social and political concerns emerge in these texts (ca. 400 BCE-300 CE)? In the process of analysis, we will explore the blurry lines between “fact” and “fiction” in ancient writing generally.