Students in the Introduction to Ancient Rome class mounted a display of public art, depicting the choice of Hercules at the statue of Herakles near the Statler Hotel.
Cicero, the Roman statesman, orator and philosopher, details his ideas about the best way to live, behave and observe moral obligations in “On Duties.”
“‘On Duties’ is a practical guide to making moral choices in life,” said Michael Fontaine, professor of classics, associate vice provost of undergraduate education and instructor of the course. “Cicero wrote it 2,000 years ago and it became an instant classic. It was revered as a sort of supplement to the Bible, which is all the more amazing if you reflect that Cicero was murdered 43 years before the birth of Jesus.”
Fontaine chose the assignment to give the students a chance to use active learning.
“The point of this exercise was to get students talking about values, and give them experience in building a consensus and making group decisions,” Fontaine said. “Many of us are shy about talking candidly about values, especially in a secular community like Cornell’s. Like most ancient philosophers, Cicero likes to talk about ‘virtue.’ It’s a nice word but what does it actually mean? And the same goes for ‘pleasure.’”
- Yvette Lisa Ndlovu