PHGA 6670 Ancient Cosmology
Spring Semester 2011
Prof. Dana Miller
135 Collins Hall
Office hours: T 11-1; F.11-1 and by appt. & chance.
This course will examine ancient cosmological theories and the arguments for the same. The primary focus of the course will be on the subject of order. The Greek word kosmos means a “well ordered state of affairs.” Therefore a central concern of Greek philosophers was to account for the apparent order of the visible world by appeal to claims about causation and necessity.
TEXTS: there will be selected readings from the Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius and others. Recommended: the Hackett Plato and the Oxford Aristotle and/or the Clarendon Aristotle Series from Oxford. Recommended is the single dialogue Hackett of Plato’s Timaeus translated by Donald Zeyl (2002); it has useful notes for this difficult text. Penguin Classics has a Robin Waterfield translation of Aristotle’s Physics which is pretty good and also cheap. For Lucretius, recommended is the Loeb edition (1982) (De rerum natura) revised by M.F. Smith. There is also a new Penguin Classics translation (The Nature of Things) by Stallings (2007). I have not examined it closely, but contemporary standards would not permit it to be too bad. There is a Loeb translation by Rackham of Cicero’s De natura deorum (1979). For Alexander of Aphrodisias, the translation is by R.W. Sharples (Duckworth 1983).
This may be difficult to obtain. I will look into it.
Various texts on E-Res (password: millerdr)
Some other material will be made available on handouts.
One class presentation. 20 pp. paper at the end of the term.
January 21: Introduction: Presocratics.
January 28: Presocratics esp. Democritus and the Pythagoreans.
February 4: Plato. Selections from Gorgias, Phaedo. Timaeus.
February 11: Plato. Timaeus continued.
February 18: Aristotle. Physics Bks. 1, 2. Possibly begin Bk. 8.
February 25: Aristotle. Physics Bk. 8.
March 4: Aristotle. Selections from On Generation and Corruption; beginning of Parts of Animals; selections from Generation of Animals.
March 11: Aristotle. Selections from De Caelo, Meteorology.
March 25: Stoic cosmology. Various readings.
April 9: Epicurus. Lucretius, De rerum natura, Bk. 1
April 15: Lucretius, Bks. 2, 3.
April 29: Lucretius, Bks. 5, 6.
May 6: Cicero, De natura deorum, Bk. 2.
May 13: Alexander of Aphrodisias, On Fate.
Some (among much) secondary literature.
List provided at the beginning of class.