CLA2001 - Greek History: Problems and Sources

2009/0 Module description

Lecturer(s)Dr L Mitchell (module director), Prof S Mitchell
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
Duration of Module2 semesters
Total Student Study Time12 hours per week, including 1 hour lecture and either 1 hour seminar or study-group

Module aims

The aim of the module is to provide an introduction for the period of Greek History in the Classical and Hellenistic periods. Through a close study of the ancient sources, students should come to an understanding of the limitations of textual evidence, of the major issues, themes and problems of this period, and of not only what the Greeks of this period did, but why they did it.

Intended learning outcomes

Module-specific skills

On completing this module students should be able to evaluate critically the uses and limitations of a wide range of sources available to Greek historians of this period; to have an awareness of and to be able to analyse the major historical issues and problems pertaining to this period.

Discipline-specific skills

Students should be able to analyse, evaluate critically, and synthesise a wide range of sources (both literary and material), and be able to analyse and solve major historical problems.

Personal and key skills

Students should be able to think maturely and creatively; to construct, present, and defend arguments (both in written form and orally); to be able to work independently and in groups.

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures, study-groups, seminars (which will involve prepared group presentations as well as general whole-group discussions.)


Two oral presentations of about 10 minutes duration; two essays of 2000 words.


(1) the oral presentations (10% of whole module mark); (2) the two essay assignments: combined value (40%, 20% each); (3) one three-hour exam, comprising one compulsory question on sources and a choice of two essays questions: (50%) [NB. For the compulsory question, sources will be identified by author].

Syllabus plan

Semester 1
1. Introduction: the early fifth century
2. Delian League
3. Ephialtes and Pericles: the birth of radical democracy
4. Athenian imperialism: the evidence
5. The outbreak of the Peloponnesian War
6. The Sicilian expedition and Thucydides
7. Lysander & Cyrus: the end of the War
8. The rise and fall of Sparta
9. The rise (and fall) of Thebes
10. Philip II of Macedon: friend or enemy?
11. Alexander the Great: a living legend.
12. Approaches to the Hellenistic World
Semester 2
13. The Wars of the Successors (323-276 BC).
14. The nature of Hellenistic Monarchy.
15. Hellenistic cities and socio-economic change
16. Macedonia and Greece under the Antigonids.
17. Ptolemaic Egypt.
18. The Seleucid Kingdom: the Near East after Alexander.
19. Case Studies: Pergamon and Alexandria.
20. Hellenistic art and literature.
21. Social, military and intellectual developments
22. Summation: The Hellenistic Kingdoms and the coming of Rome.

Indicative basic reading list

1. Set Texts:
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War (Penguin)
Xenophon, A history of my times (Penguin, 1966)
P. Harding, From the end of the Peloponnesian War to the battle of Ipsus (Cambridge, 1985)
Polybius, The rise of the Roman empire (Penguin, 1979)
Course-pack available from department office.
2. Introductory Reading:
J.K. Davies, Democracy and Classical Greece 2nd edition (London, 1993)
A. Erskine (ed), A Companion to the Hellenistic World (Oxford 2003)
S. Hornblower, The Greek World 479-323 BC 3rd edition (London, 2002)
P. Levi, Atlas of the Greek World (Oxford, 1980)
G. Shipley, The Greek World after Alexander 323-30 BC (London, 2000) - to be bought.
F.W. Walbank, The Hellenistic World 2nd edition (London, 1992)
R.D. Sullivan, Near Eastern Royalty and Rome (Toronto, 1990)
B.H. Fowler, The Hellenistic Aesthetic (Bristol, 1989)
D. Ogden, The Hellenistic World. New Perspectives (Swansea, 2002)
D. Ogden, Polygamy, Prostitutes and Death. The Hellenistic Dynasties (London, 1999)
M. Chauveau, Egypt in the Age of Cleopatra (London, 2000)
J. Whitehorne, Cleopatras (London, 1994)
J-Y. Empereur, Alexandria Rediscovered (Nottingham, 1998)
I. Nielsen, Hellenistic Palaces (Jutland Archaeological Scoiety, 1999) P. Green, From Alexander to Actium: The Hellenistic Age (London, 1990) A.K. Bowman, Egypt after the Pharaohs 332 BC-AD 642 (London, 1986) N. Lewis, The Greeks in Ptolemaic Egypt (Oxford, 1986)

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