ElderCollege course covers antiquity’s major authors

Preparation readies student for Greek, Roman literature study.

By Marlene Robertson

It all started with a phone call to John Edwards, instructor for the Greeks and Romans course.

I wanted permission to visit one of his classes and find out what I should read to prepare and avoid looking like a total weenie.

The way I figured, the Romans conquered and pillaged, then fiddled while Rome burned, and the Greeks were God-like and held orgies.

What else was there to know?

In truth, it wasn’t quite that simple. Edwards recommended that I purchase A Loeb Classical Library Reader, so away I went to the VIU Bookstore and brought it home. Gulp.

The first paragraph of the preface reads: “This selection of lapidary nuggets drawn from 33 of antiquity’s major authors includes poetry, dialogue, philosophical writing, history, descriptive reporting, satire, and fiction – giving a glimpse of the wide range of arts and sciences, styles and convictions, of Greco-Roman culture.”

The left hand page was in either Greek or Latin, and the right was an English translation. Now I’m thinking I’ve really bitten off more than I can chew.

But, I surprised myself.  As I got into the book, I became totally immersed and caught up in the lapidary nuggets. But how would I fare in the class?

Edwards reminded me somewhat of Abraham Lincoln, who I understand was quite the orator with a wicked sense of humour. As it turns out, so is John.

When you walk into a classroom and ask the students why they are taking the course, and they say without exception ‘because of the instructor’, you have to know you’re in for something special. Believe me, I wasn’t disappointed.

He talked about epicureans, stoics and cynics, and explained when you have a stoic cynic, things get pretty interesting.

Apparently, many believed this was the best way to go through life, and that life included following nature and believing that less was better. Even way back then, some people took their beliefs to the extreme and practiced ostentatious simplicity.

Cynic is a Greek word for dog and it seems some of these dudes ran around naked acting like mad dogs. Who said history is boring?

A colleague of Edwards’s, Peter Orme, spoke on the theological implications of the Roman conquest of the Citadel (Masada) built by Herod the Great. It was a thoughtful and thought provoking talk, and just like that, the class was over. I wanted more.

Watch for the new ElderCollege fall calendar, check out Edwards’s courses and sign up early.  You won’t be disappointed.

Be sure to visit our website at www.viu.eldercollege and enter your contact information. This will put you on the ElderCollege mailing list which includes the calendar of courses offered and updated information of what ElderCollege is up to.

For more information call 1-866-734-6252 or e-mail pqcampus@viu.ca.

Now where did I leave my toga?

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