The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity [TTC Video]
26 July 2015, 10:35
Course No 3466 | M4V, AVC, 1500 kbps, 640x480 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | 8.83GB
Why did pagan Rome, which had a history of tolerating other faiths, clash with early Christians? What was it like, under Roman law, to be a Jew or a Christian? What led to the great persecutions of Christians? Above all else, how did Christianity ultimately achieve dominance in the Roman Empire, eclipsing paganism in one of the most influential turning points in the history of Western civilization?
Answers to these and similar questions are important for the sheer fact that much of today's world is still governed by principles drawn from the Judeo-Christian heritage that gained primacy as a result of Christianity's triumph over the paganism of ancient Rome. Two thousand years after this earth-shattering change, many of these principles still determine how most of today's Western world—both Christian and non-Christian alike—thinks about ethics, sin, redemption, forgiveness, progress, and so much more.
Discover the true story behind this ethical and religious legacy with The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity, a historically focused discussion of the dramatic interaction between Judaism, Christianity, and paganism from the 1st to the 6th centuries. Presented by Professor Kenneth W. Harl of Tulane University—an award-winning teacher, classical scholar, and one of the most esteemed historians on The Great Courses faculty—these 24 lectures allow you to explore in great depth the historical reasons that Christianity was able to emerge and endure and, in turn, spark a critical transition for religion, culture, and politics.
An All-Encompassing Picture of a Critical Era
While the Judeo-Christian values that have shaped society's ideas are ones we might today take for granted, their emergence from an ancient era dominated by loyalties to a vast array of gods would once have seemed the most unlikely of narratives. Even after the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in A.D. 312, it would not be until the 6th-century reign of Justinian that medieval Christianity would emerge and this new historical pathway would finally be confirmed.
Professor Harl's magnificent course enables you to grasp the full historical sweep of this monumental transition by creating an all-encompassing picture of this critically important era. While some philosophical and theological content is included to clarify important points of transition, the focus of The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity is—above all else—on its most important and fascinating episodes, among which are these:
- Emperor Nero's rescript in A.D. 64, which not only ordered the persecution of Christians in the city of Rome but also made the faith illegal throughout the empire. As the first religion ever banned in the Roman world, Christianity would be forced to develop new institutions and new ways of spreading its message.
- The Battle of the Milvian Bridge in A.D. 312, where Emperor Constantine won a victory described in the only two literary accounts—both written by Christian authors—as having been deliberately fought under the Christian symbol of the Chi Ro. Professor Harl offers a probing analysis of what he believes Emperor Constantine's real motives were for fighting in this battle.
- The reign of Theodosius I (A.D. 379 to 395), under which laws were passed banning public sacrifice throughout the Roman Empire and making Christianity the only legitimate religion. This crucial reign, according to Professor Harl, signified not only the death knell of Roman paganism but the first steps in the creation of the persecuting society of medieval Europe.
New Insights into the Sources of Western Beliefs
The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity also introduces you to a wide variety of individuals whose actions helped shape the history of this turbulent time, including these:
- Rulers like Augustus and Justinian, whose decisions would define—and redefine—the relationship between paganism, Judaism, and Christianity and how Jews and Christians would subsequently respond through words, deeds, and rituals
- Proselytizers for the new faith, including James and Paul, and the different viewpoints they represented in the development of early Christianity
- Religious thinkers such as Clement and Origen, who would go on to become the first theologians of the emerging Christian faith
- Ascetics such as Saint Anthony and Barsauma, a warlike monk said to be so terrifying that he could inspire conversions in the villages of Syria and Phoenicia through the sheer fear raised by his arrival
- Philosophical thinkers such as Galen, who was also a noted pagan critic of the new Christian faith and thus an active participant in the exchanges with Christian apologists that served to educate and hone the arguments put forth by both sides
You'll also witness Christianity's growing influence on not only the visual arts (including architecture and the redesignation of pagan temples for Christian uses) but on the world of letters, including, ironically, the preservation of the classical writings of ancient Greece so important to understanding the pagan world.
A Masterful Historian, an Exceptional Teacher
Professor Harl is the ideal choice for crafting such an all-encompassing picture of this critically important era. In addition to garnering honors for his skills as a lecturer—which include two-time recognition as the recipient of Tulane University's Sheldon Hackney Award for Excellence in Teaching, voted on by both students and faculty—he regularly leads students to Turkey on educational excursions or as assistants on excavations of Hellenistic and Roman sites.
His own photographs of temples and other architectural features, cult statues, coins, and other telling artifacts bring the history and the events in this course to vivid life. Combined with a rich array of other visual aids, including maps, illustrations, and animations, these features help make The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity a vibrant trek through the past—one that will lead you to a deeper understanding of the bedrock beliefs of Western culture.
- Religious Conflict in the Roman World
- Gods and Their Cities in the Roman Empire
- The Roman Imperial Cult
- The Mystery Cults
- Platonism and Stoicism
- Jews in the Roman Empire
- Christian Challenge—First Conversions
- Pagan Response—First Persecutions
- Christian Bishops and Apostolic Churches
- Pagan Critics and Christian Apologists
- First Christian Theologians
- Imperial Crisis and Spiritual Crisis
- The Great Persecutions
- The Spirit of Late Paganism
- Imperial Recovery under the Tetrarchs
- The Conversion of Constantine
- Constantine and the Bishops
- Christianizing the Roman World
- The Birth of Christian Aesthetics and Letters
- The Emperor Julian and the Pagan Reaction
- Struggle over Faith and Culture
- New Christian Warriors—Ascetics and Monks
- Turning Point—Theodosius I
- Justinian and the Demise of Paganism
Latin 101: Learning a Classical Language [TTC Video]
23 July 2015, 02:43
Course No 2201 | WMV, WMV9, 2000 kbps, 640x360 | WMA, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 14.77GB
Latin lives! The language of Caesar, Cicero, Virgil, St. Jerome, and countless other great authors is alive and well in the modern world. It lives in the Romance languages, which are the lineal descendants of Latin. It flourishes in English, which draws a major part of its vocabulary from Latin. It thrives in the technical terms of science, law, and other fields. Latin is used in the traditional liturgy and proclamations of the Catholic Church. And it is the language of choice for inscriptions, mottoes, and any idea that needs to be stated with permanence and precision.
Above all, Latin lives in thousands of pages of writings that were preserved from the ancient world—poems, plays, speeches, historical and philosophical works that were handed down for centuries because of their beauty of expression and profundity of thought. These immortal works have influenced everyone from Shakespeare to the framers of the United States Constitution to author J. K. Rowling.
On the other hand, Latin has an undeserved reputation for difficulty. But when taught well, Latin is pleasingly straightforward, logical, and predictable. Each word is like a finely crafted part of a machine—a device that does an amazing amount of work with very few components. Learning to read Latin is immensely rewarding, and it is a discipline that trains, enhances, and strengthens critical thinking.
Embark on this unrivaled adventure with Latin 101: Learning a Classical Language, 36 innovative lectures that cover the material normally presented in a first-year college course in Latin. By watching these entertaining lectures, practicing the drills, and doing the exercises in the accompanying guidebook, you will gain access to some of the world’s greatest thought in its original language. You will also understand why no translation can reproduce the elegance and charm of Latin.
Your guide is Professor Hans-Friedrich Mueller of Union College in Schenectady, New York, an award-winning teacher and textbook author who brings warmth, humor, and enthusiasm to the age-old profession of Latin master. To his students, Professor Mueller is simply Molinarius, which is Latin for his surname, Mueller, which means “miller” in English. Fully equipped to live in ancient times, Professor Mueller speaks Latin using the restored classical pronunciation, which melodiously approximates the way Latin was spoken in antiquity. When he speaks, Latin is indeed alive!
A Course for All Ages
For centuries, Latin was the indispensible foundation for higher education—a course of study that sharpened the mind and paved the way for more advanced schooling in literature, languages, and even mathematics and the sciences. Other courses have since taken Latin’s place in the required curriculum, but Latin remains a cornerstone of Western culture and superb preparation for a deeper understanding of English vocabulary and grammar.
Those who will benefit from Latin 101 include
- self-learners and home-schoolers who wish to learn Latin on their own with these 18 hours of lessons and the accompanying guidebook;
- those studying Latin in high school or college who seek an outstanding private tutor who knows the most common pitfalls that students face;
- anyone who has already taken Latin, even if years ago, and desires a refresher course from an engaging, award-winning professor;
- lovers of language, classical civilization, and great literature who aspire to hear and understand the living voice of the ancient world.
- Let the Past Speak to You
In Latin 101 you plunge into authentic Latin from the start, becoming part of a time-honored tradition of students unlocking the delights of increasingly challenging extracts of real Latin authors, such as these:
- Caesar: Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War describe the great general’s exciting exploits in a clear style without exotic vocabulary. These dispatches helped propel Caesar to a remarkable political career.
- Catullus: When asked to speak Latin, Professor Mueller often recites a charming love poem by Catullus. All of the elements that make Catullus one of the greatest poets who ever lived—language, meter, and style—are accessible to you after only a few Latin lessons.
- Cicero: Arguably the most influential writer of all time, Cicero left behind works in many different genres. In this course, you study some of the grammatical lessons from his oratory. There is no better guide to the principles for making a persuasive speech.
- St. Jerome: For his translation of the Bible into Latin in the 4th century A.D., St. Jerome used the language of the vulgus, or crowd. The “Vulgate,” as it is known, is an ideal text for beginning Latin students. You analyze passages from Genesis and Proverbs.
- Your readings also include excerpts from Virgil, Livy, Sallust, Plautus, Martial, Cato the Elder, the Twelve Tables of Roman Law, the Magna Carta, and the Great Seal of the United States, among other passages. In every case, you focus on something specific about how Latin works. For example, Adeste, fideles, the Latin version of the Christmas carol “O Come All Ye Faithful!,” is a superb introduction to the imperative mood.
By the end of the course, you will be translating a long inscription from a Roman funerary monument, which tells a touching story of young love and a married life cut too short. It is a heart-rending message that speaks directly across the centuries, highlighting one of the best reasons to learn an ancient language—so that you can listen to voices from the distant past with understanding and immediacy.
St. Jerome’s Latin version of God’s command in Genesis 1:3 is Fiat lux, “Let there be light.” Two Latin words where English needs four—or even five, since a more accurate English translation is “Let light come into existence.” This vividly demonstrates Latin’s grace, simplicity, and depth of meaning. How does Latin say so much with so little?
The secret is an array of word endings and other seemingly minor modifications that mold a basic word stem to fit a very precise role. For instance, the passive voice is awkward in English and therefore rejected by many writers concerned with style. An example is “I am being driven.” But in Latin you can say the same thing with only one word: agor. The ability of Latin to express the passive voice with elegance makes such forms much more common and useful than in English. The same goes for many other grammatical constructions, which is one of the ways that Latin improves your analytical skills—by allowing you to understand and make distinctions that are difficult to convey in English.
Latin 101 gives you extensive practice conjugating verbs and declining nouns and adjectives to create these meaning-packed words. It is the area in which Latin students have the most trouble, but Professor Mueller makes it accessible, interesting, and fun. Kinetic on-screen graphics emphasize the different forms as Professor Mueller recites them, so that you simultaneously see and hear each Latin word. Then the professor allows a moment for you to say it aloud. The combination of seeing, hearing, and speaking is the ideal way to reinforce language learning. Professor Mueller also reviews material already covered and looks ahead to what you still need to learn before your solid foundation in Latin is complete. Building such a foundation is quite an accomplishment, and the professor knows how to keep you motivated.
Along the way, you explore Roman history, laws, courtship practices, religious beliefs, and other aspects of ancient culture. And you encounter many examples of Roman thought, including this timeless piece of advice from Dionysius Cato, who lived in the 3rd or 4th century A.D. His words apply especially well to Latin 101 and to The Great Courses in general:
Ars remanet vitamque hominis non deserit umquam.
“Learn something. For whenever good fortune suddenly departs, skill remains, and skill does not desert the life of a person ever.”
- Pronouncing Classical Latin
- Introduction to Third-Conjugation Verbs
- Introduction to the Subjunctive Mood
- The Irregular Verbs Sum and Possum
- Introduction to Third-Declension Nouns
- Third-Declension Neuter Nouns
- First- and Second-Declension Adjectives
- First- and Second-Declension Nouns
- Introduction to the Passive Voice
- Third -io and Fourth-Conjugation Verbs
- First- and Second-Conjugation Verbs
- Reading a Famous Latin Love Poem
- The Present Passive of All Conjugations
- Third-Declension Adjectives
- Third-Declension I-Stem Nouns
- The Relative Pronoun
- The Imperfect and Future Tenses
- Building Translation Skills
- Using the Subjunctive Mood
- Demonstrative Adjectives and Pronouns
- The Perfect Tense Active System
- Forming and Using Participles
- Using the Infinitive
- Reading a Passage from Caesar
- The Perfect Tense Passive System
- Deponent Verbs
- Conditional Sentences
- Cum Clauses and Stipulations
- Reading Excerpts from Roman Law
- Interrogative Adjectives and Pronouns
- Fourth- and Fifth-Declension Nouns
- Gerunds and Gerundives
- Counting in Latin
- More on Irregular Verbs
- Comparison of Adjectives and Adverbs
- Next Steps in Reading Latin
Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity [TTC Video]
23 July 2015, 02:27
Course No 2241 | WMV, WMV9, 2000 kbps, 640x360 | English, WMA, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 10.17GB
Can you imagine the world—or your life—without writing? From emails to street signs and newspapers to novels, the written word is so ever-present that we rarely stop to consider how it came to be.
Yet at just over 5,000 years old, writing is actually a relatively recent invention. It has become so central to the way we communicate and live, however, that it often seems as if writing has always existed.
Through writing, we gain knowledge about past cultures and languages we couldn’t possibly obtain any other way. Writing creates a continuous historical record—something an oral history could never achieve. And writing systems are integral to many cultural identities and serve as both a tool and a product of many important societal structures, from religion to politics.
The fundamental role and impact of writing in our civilization simply cannot be overstated. But the question remains: Who invented writing, and why?
Like any event from our prehistoric past, the story of writing’s origins is burdened by myths, mysteries, and misinformation. For the past two centuries, however, dedicated scholars have used rigorous methods to uncover a tale of intrigue, fascinating connections, and elegant solutions to the complex problem of turning language into text.
In the 24 visually intensive lectures of Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity, you’ll trace the remarkable saga of the invention and evolution of “visible speech,” from its earliest origins to its future in the digital age. Professor Marc Zender—Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Tulane University and an accomplished epigrapher—whisks you around the globe on a thrilling journey to explore how an array of sophisticated writing systems developed, then were adopted and adapted by surrounding cultures.
This course answers many of the most common questions about the world’s writing systems and the civilizations that created them, plus a number of questions you may never have thought to ask.
- Do all writing systems descend from a single prototype, or was writing invented independently?
- What one feature do the world’s writing systems have in common?
- Which kinds of signs and symbols qualify as writing, and which do not?
- How is the digital age changing the way we write?
- Along the way, you’ll visit the great early civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, Japan, and the Americas, and you’ll see how deciphering ancient scripts is a little like cracking secret codes—only far more difficult.
Witness the Triumphs of Decipherment
Through the process of decipherment, civilizations including Egypt, Mesopotamia, Crete, and Mexico have, as Professor Zender says, “all given up their secrets.” Lost histories, literatures, and religions can now be studied in translation, and the disciplines of ancient history, archaeology, and comparative literature have benefited enormously as a result.
You’ll be spellbound as you hear accounts of the breathtaking moments when the decipherment of ancient scripts broke centuries of silence. And you’ll marvel at fascinating objects once shrouded in mystery, including
- the iconic Rosetta stone, often credited with being the key to our understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphics;
- an Egyptian sphinx inscribed with the oldest-known form of our own alphabet;
- a doorway at Persepolis inscribed in cuneiform;
- a Maya vase featuring an ancient comic strip; and
- wooden, rune-inscribed runakéfli sticks featuring carved messages that reflect the social sphere of 12th-century Scandinavia, including one that reads, "I'd like to get to the pub more often."
- Crucial to your understanding of how epigraphers decipher scripts—and why they’re sometimes unsuccessful—are five preconditions known as the “pillars of decipherment,” which you’ll study in detail and return to throughout the course.
A Window into the Past
Among the fascinating takeaways from studying lost scripts is a newfound sense of shared humanity with ancient peoples. The cuneiform scripts of ancient Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Persia, in particular, are eerily modern and reveal glimpses of the origins of practices and beliefs that continue to the present.
You’ll also see how writing was used for political purposes by our earliest civilizations, as in the practice known as damnatio memoriae, whereby ousted leaders were quite literally erased from history, either through the recarving of inscriptions or by omission from official records. Ironically, it is Tutankhamen’s own erasure that may have helped obscure his tomb from raiders.
Despite the obvious connection between language and writing, this course draws a clear distinction, explaining how single languages can be written using various writing systems. English, you’ll learn, was once written with runes. In antiquity, Greek was represented by at least three different scripts.
In exploring how writing systems rise and fall, you’ll encounter many scripts that are associated with languages that have surviving descendents, including those of the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians, which have relatives in Hebrew and Arabic. Others scripts you’ll study—such as those of the Elamites, Hurrians, and Sumerians—record languages that have died out or evolved to the point of being unrecognizable.
Myths Dispelled, Revelations Told
In Writing and Civilization, you’ll encounter a wealth of eye-opening information that sets the record straight on this enigmatic subject. Here are just a few of the misconceptions that you’ll encounter and investigate in greater detail.
- A civilization cannot exist without writing: While writing and civilization share a strong relationship, they are not inextricably entwined.
- Writing was invented to serve the administrative needs of early cities: Although writing did serve this purpose, it likely first emerged out of a need to record proper nouns.
- The Rosetta stone is a one-of-a-kind artifact: This first and most famous example of a bilingual—or “triscript,” as it contains Greek writing, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and demotic script—is not the only Egyptian bilingual in existence, nor was it unique for its era.
- You may also be surprised to learn that the Aztecs possessed writing, and that unearthed Aegean writings in Linear B spoke only of mundane accounting matters rather than Theseus and the Minotaur and Icarus, as early scholars predicted.
Hear Messages of the Ancients Revealed
Writing and Civilization offers lifelong learners the chance to not only discover the history of ancient writing systems, but also the rare opportunity to actually hear those scripts read aloud and to learn the meaning of their messages hidden in plain sight.
As an expert on Mesoamerican languages and writing systems and an international lecturer on decipherment, Professor Zender has conducted linguistic, epigraphic, and archaeological fieldwork in much of the Maya area, including Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. His expertise, along with firsthand accounts of his experiences and discoveries, adds an invaluable perspective that truly brings this riveting material to life.
You will also be captivated by the extraordinary visuals accompanying each dynamic lecture, including photographs of ancient sites and artifacts, explanatory animations, and numerous illustrations artfully drawn by the professor—many exclusively for this course.
From papyrus to personal computer, the story of writing is 5,000 years in the making, and it’s still evolving. Investigate the fascinating relationships between language and writing, and the cultures that gave birth to them, in Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity.
- What Is Writing?
- The Origins and Development of Writing
- Where Did Our Alphabet Come From?
- The Fuþark—A Germanic Alphabet
- Chinese—A Logosyllabic Script
- Japanese—The World’s Most Complex Script
- What Is Decipherment?
- The Five Pillars of Decipherment
- Epigraphic Illustration
- The History of Language
- Proper Nouns and Cultural Context
- Bilinguals, Biscripts, and Other Constraints
- Egyptian—The First Great Decipherment
- What Do Egyptian Hieroglyphs Say?
- Old Persian—Cuneiform Deciphered
- What Does Cuneiform Say?
- Mycenaean Linear B—An Aegean Syllabary
- Mayan Glyphs—A New World Logosyllabary
- What Do the Mayan Glyphs Say?
- Aztec Hieroglyphs—A Recent Decipherment
- Etruscan and Meroïtic—Undeciphered Scripts
- Han'gul, Tengwar, and Other Featural Scripts
- Medium and Message
- The Future of Writing