Location: Bowdoin / mnerdahl

Classics

Michael D. Nerdahl

Lecturer in Classics

Contact Information

mnerdahl@bowdoin.edu
207-725-3403
Classics

Sills Hall - 9



Teaching this semester

CLAS 1101. Classical Mythology

Focuses on the mythology of the Greeks and the use of myth in classical literature. Other topics considered are recurrent patterns and motifs in Greek myths; a cross-cultural study of ancient creation myths; the relation of mythology to religion; women’s roles in myth; and the application of modern anthropological, sociological, and psychological theories to classical myth. Concludes with an examination of Ovid’s use of classical mythology in the “Metamorphoses.”

GRK 2203. Intermediate Greek for Reading

A review of the essentials of Greek grammar and syntax and an introduction to the reading of Greek prose through the study of one of Plato’s dialogues. Equivalent of Greek 1102 or two to three years of high school Greek is required.

LATN 1102. Elementary Latin II, A

A continuation of Latin 1101. During this term, readings are based on unaltered passages of classical Latin.

Teaching next semester

CLAS 3306. Leadership, Morality, and the Ancients: The Works of Plutarch

“One cannot read Plutarch without a tingling of the blood.” A prolific author, Plutarch produced dynamic writings on such topics as education, self-improvement, the nature of the soul, the virtues of men and women, music, natural science, vegetarianism, and love. His eclectic philosophical thought culminated in his greatest work, the Parallel Lives, a collection of biographies on statesmanship designed to present examples from Greco-Roman history—like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, not to mention preeminent leaders from Sparta and Athens—to serve as mirrors for ethical self-reflection. We will discuss the context of Plutarch’s philosophy and literary presentation and how they relate to modern leadership, ethical behavior, multi-cultural understanding, and the utility of moral instruction. Readings are likely to include works of Plato as well as selections from Plutarch’s Moralia and Parallel Lives. All readings will be in English. Research Seminar.

GRK 2204. Homer

An introduction to the poetry of Homer. Focuses both on reading and on interpreting Homeric epic. All materials and coursework in Greek.



Michael Nerdahl


Michael is a lifelong Badger, having received his B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. He teaches classes of all levels in Latin and Greek, as well as courses in ancient culture (Mythology, Greek Civilization) and Roman history and politics, particularly of the Roman Republic. 

Michael specializes in Greco-Roman historiography, with a particular focus on literary and ideological filtering in historians of the Roman empire. His focus has been on the Imperial Greek philosopher/moralist Plutarch, and he has published and lectured extensively on the Parallel Lives.  Plutarch, a mainland Greek who became a Roman citizen, was primarily concerned with instructing his students on how to become better individuals and statesmen through a process of self-reflection and critical thought, and his Parallel Lives are an attempt to present universal examples that instruct and teach citizens and politicians across the ages.  As Emerson wrote, "One cannot read Plutarch without a tingling of the blood."

Michael hosts Latin Tea Friday afternoons, where we read original texts and cookies in order to buck up before facing the drudgery of a weekend without Latin class.  He is also an advocate of oral Latin, Nero, Themistocles, and the Milwaukee Brewers.