THE GREEKS: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE CLASSICAL WORLD
The aim of this module is to give students a broad but firm grounding in the governing systems and structures of Ancient Greece, given that it has inspired and indeed constitutes the foundations of much of what we call Western Civilisation. Issues such as democracy, justice, the development of modern drama, philosophy, religion, historiography and the role of women will be raised, and where relevant and possible, supplementary materials and visits will be incorporated into the syllabus. The period under study will cover the rise and fall of Athens from the seventh to the fourth centuries BC. If specifically requested a course based on the Fall of the Roman Republic can be followed with specific focus on the years from 133 BC – 14 AD.
- Introduction to course; Geography of Ancient Greece. Communication and early communities. Beginnings of colonization. Trade. Internal strife and disparities. Different constitutions. Rise of Tyrants.
- The Cypselids (657 BC); Other Tyrants. Second Messenian War (640 BC). Athens: Cylon, Dracon.
- Solon’s Reforms (594BC); After Solon. Pisistratus’s Rise. Pisistratus in Athens (540 BC).
- The Peloponnesian League. Hippias. Isagoras/Cleomenes/Cleisthenes.
- Rise of the Persian Empire. The Ionians. Cleisthenes’ Reforms (508 BC).
- Sparta & Athens Persian Involvement. Ionian Revolt (499 – 494 BC). Themistocles. Marathon (490 BC). Consequences. Xerxes.
- Second Persian Invasion (480 BC) Thermopylae, Salamis. Plataea. Mycale. Sestos. Assessment of Greeks/Persians.
- Formation of Delian league Athenian prominence (478 BC). Cimon’s campaigns. Sparta’s difficulties. Themistocles’ actions. Rise of Pericles.
- Anti-Spartan policies, Egypt, 5-year truce. Peace of Callias, Empire and 30 year Peace (445 BC). Building/colonization and Samos. Reasons for Outbreak of Peloponnesian War.
- Peloponnesian War 431 – 404, Brief overview: Archidamian War. Peace of Nicias, Ionian War. Athenian Surrender (404 BC).
- To impart information about the historical period to be covered
- To develop good study practice such as note-taking, speed reading, class discussion
- To encourage critical skills through reasoning
- To teach and improve essay writing skills
- To foster an admiration for the sophistication and civilisation of the ancient world and to appreciate the relevance and application of ancient history in understanding contemporary politics.
- The tutor will ask students to take notes in seminars and tutorials as information is being taught and discussed
- Students will consolidate class knowledge by reading both primary (Greek in translation) and secondary (textbook) sources in private study time after which they should be able to explain the significance of what they have learnt
- Already taught material will always be repeated before new information is taught, thus making revision ongoing
- Students will examine photos of artefacts and archaeological discoveries relating to the period under study and will make a museum visit
- The geography of the ancient world will be studied
- Research and consolidation will be set as private study assignments as preparation for essay writing
- Essays will be written occasionally as private study assignments
- Timed essays will be written regularly during supervised progress tests
- Short classroom quiz/tests will aid revision
- To produce a full dossier of notes on the period under study.
- To demonstrate orally and in written form knowledge of the different stages of political development witnessed during three centuries of Greek history as well as a full grasp of the significance of historical events.
- To demonstrate skills in researching the ancient sources for information.
- To complete regular assignments set by the tutor using a range of textbooks as sources of information.
Students typically complete 4 essays and 2 tests per term in addition to regular classwork and private study assignments. These marks as a whole, combined with an assessment of student performance in class, make up the final grade for the course, as shown. Sample essay questions are included below; test questions will normally consist of document analysis, in line with those set for ‘A’ level examination boards.
- 40% Essays
- 40% Tests
- 10% Class Participation
- 10% Attendance
This class is normally delivered over one term, with 90 teaching contact hours or equivalent in the Michaelmas term, and 60 teaching contact hours for Hilary and Trinity terms. For students requesting credit, we recommend the transfer of three college credits for Michaelmas and two college credits for Hilary and Trinity, on successful completion of the class.
Recommended Introductory Reading and Textbooks
The list below is for guidance and to supply some ideas for preliminary reading. We recommend that you do not purchase the books on this list before arrival and certainly not all of them; most should be available from a good library. Your tutor will recommend the most appropriate books for purchase at the first class of term.
* = Essential for personal use
Herodotus The Histories (Penguin)
Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War (Penguin) *
Plutarch The Rise and Fall of Athens (Penguin) *
Plutarch The Age of Alexander (Penguin)
Xenophon A History of My Times (Penguin)
Aristotle The Athenian Constitution (Penguin)
Aristophanes (Any one of the Penguin volumes)
Bradley Ancient History: Using the Evidence
Bury and Meiggs A History of Greece
Hammond History of Greece
Meiggs The Athenian Empire
Ehrenberg From Solon to Socrates
Hornblower The Greek World
Grant The Rise of the Greeks