Program Highlight

Working near the Hexamilion Wall in Isthmia, 2008

One of our early evening seminars in the village of Ancient Korinth, at Café Marinos, overlooking the Korinthian Gulf, while discussing Aeschylus' plays.

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Photo Galleries

Students on SMP Presentation Day

Although clothed and with shoes, we recreate a footrace at the original stadium at Nemea.  Professor Taber did retain from ancient times, however, the threat that cheaters would be beaten. Click here to see photos from previous tours.

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Greece Study Tour
May 31-June 24, 2014

Theme for 2014--Athletes, Actors, and Sages: Competition in Ancient Greece

Hist 393 or INTL 330 or PHIL 380: Four credits

St. Mary's College's Greece Study Tour offers participants an opportunity to gain knowledge of the layerings of history in this part of the world the influence of which so greatly outstrips its modest size.

Greece is about the size of Alabama. But Greece is not Alabama.

The Greeks pride themselves on having taken very seriously for 3000 years the duties of being a good host. Those not interested in honoring this by being good guests are encouraged to find alternative plans for the summer.

This is a credit-bearing academic course. Those interested in three weeks of Greek beaches, punctuated only by gift shopping and evenings in the cafe, are likewise advised that this study tour is not for them.

This having been said, a study tour is not simply an off-campus course. Not only do we get to see sites, structures, and landscapes that directly relate to our readings, like the palace at which Agamemnon unsuspiciously walked on the blood-red carpet into the waiting, vengeful arms of his wife Clytemnestra and like the prison cell in which Socrates drank the hemlock, but we learn that our image of Greece must extend beyond silent, weather-worn limestone foundations and pages in literally inanimate books. Greece has lived and died many times, and now can be caught very much alive.

Greece, like the rest of southern Europe, gets its summer wind prevailing from the south. This means from the Sahara. It is hot, with summer temperatures in the 90's, and in a heat spell, the 100's. Summer rains are rare, and summer humidity a mere story (myth?) Greeks have heard about. Accordingly, Greeks take seriously the siesta time, which extends from about 1:00 to about 5:00 every afternoon. (The fact that precision is not possible here is part of the charm, and sometimes the frustration, of the land.) Hence, they start their days early, and extend them late. The Greeks consider anything eaten before 9:00 p.m. to be a pre-dinner appetizer!

Napping, however, is but one option for siesta. It is also good time for swimming at an area beach, for catching up on some reading or writing, for strolling to one of the occasional shops or cafe that does not close for siesta.

So a typical day might look like this, even though there may turn out to be no one such typical day:

7:00 Breakfast in hotel restaurant (provided)
8:00 Depart (by foot, by taxis, by bus) to the historical site or museum of the day
1:00 Break for lunch either all together or in small groups, after which people can relax, nap, read, write homework assignments, or go in small groups to a local beach
7:00 Meet at a pre-arranged location for a seminar
9:00 Dinner either all together or in small groups
11:00 In small groups, visit a café or stroll the village square

As for coursework, your first requirement will be to provide us with reading material for the plane flight from the U.S., by submitting to us, prior to the first beverage service on the plane, a several-page take-home exam consisting of your identifications of a previously circulated list of about 100 terms to know. These will range across the archaeological (stylobate), cultural (marriage in Classical times), historical (the Areopagus), literary (satyr plays), philosophical (elenchus), political (Greek agora), and religious (Artemis). We will return these to you for you to refer to throughout the study tour.

We hold a seminar about every second evening, and there will often be short handwritten homework assignments, keyed to the reading for the next seminar. Also, each student selects from a circulated list, and researches prior to departure, two sites that we will be at (one at Ancient Korinth and one on the circuit tour) on which the student will give a 10-minute oral site report when we are at that site. Finally, by August 15th, each student submits a 8-10 page paper on an appropriate topic of the student's choice. Students should discuss preliminary ideas with us prior to departure.

The evening seminars at Ancient Korinth will begin with an introduction to the region and culture, including the what-you-shouldn't-do list that every sensitive traveler needs to know for any destination. Subsequent seminars will focus on the readings much as any college seminar does--except that these will be held in a café and will relate to the sites visited .

Ancient Korinth is a small village where American scholars have been working for one hundred years. Accommodations there will be in the family-run hotel Rooms Marinos.

[We in the U.S. occasionally hear about protests in Athens stemming from the Greek efforts at economic reform, and located in front of their parliament building (Syntagma Square) or in their university area.  Both of these are interesting areas that we like to show the students, but neither is integral to our itinerary.  In fact, both are somewhat out of the way of our itinerary. In the summer of 2010, which was a time of demonstrations, our  Athenian travel agent keep us apprised of possible troublespots.  We turned out not only to not encounter any protests, but not to see even any evidence of protests. 
We will monitor the activity there, and in the unlikely event that the entire area of central Athens were to become restive, we could improvise an alternative itinerary for the days scheduled for Athens.  It would be a shame to miss Athens' acropolis and its Parthenon, but there is no shortage of other delights to show students outside of Athens.
Unfortunately, we DON'T hear about the fact that tourism to Greece is up 12% this year.  Or how the decline in buying power of the euro is lowering prices for those from places such as the U.S.]