Course Goals  Grading & Assignments  Lecture & Reading Schedule  Academic Honesty  Required Textbooks  Web Resources  Contacting Dr. Isaac

Course Overview

Ancient Greece has long exercised the imagination of scholars. Seemingly out of nothing and at a remarkable pace, the inhabitants of the Greek mainland, the Aegean isles, and the Ionian coasts of Asia Minor crafted a culture which withstood Persian conquest but then could not refrain from devouring itself. And in the meantime, they honed a legacy which afterwards ensnared the Romans and even societies two millennia down the road. The political sophistication and variety of the poleis, the rapid maturity of epic and lyric poetry, the creation of novel literature (including history and drama)—all these elements and more have made Ancient Greece appear as that most magical of Magic Moments. So often has this intoxicating mixture been scrutinized, though, that a quite inverted effect has occurred. Classical Greek civilization has acquired an aura both natural and inevitable, whether either was true. Moreover, as thinkers looked backward for explanations of the contemporary, the conviction grew that Greece (and Athens in particular) was the real foundation

This course will examine the validity of such assumptions. In part through the political affairs of the Greeks, but even more so through social and cultural history, we will attempt another look at this complex society, its achievements and legacies. Through core institutions such as religion, family, government, war, economic imperatives, and social interaction, our goal will be to see both the Greeks as they saw themselves and the world as they viewed it. German scholars of the early nineteenth century saw the Greeks through a Romantic lens; later English afficionados of the same century presented them as models of Victorian political prudence and virtue. Let us hope we shall not turn them into post-modern, politically correct, angst- ridden, post-modern westerners (Unless, of course, that's what they were...). For starters, though, we’ll see what to make of a people who honored both a god of reason and one of disorder.

Course Goals

The goals (or should I say fruits?) of a history course are as numerous as the books which historians produce. Some have already been hinted at above. At the broadest level, though, historical study encourages and hones critical analysis of the questions which most concern us. And these issues are themselves countless, but in the most generic terms, they mostly center on the relations of people with one another, with themselves, and possibly with the supernatural. We will be asking “why?” rather a lot: Why did they think that? Why did they assume such a thing? Why does the past appear simultaneously alien and similar? Even as we ask these questions, others lie implicitly underneath: why do I think what I think? What are my prejudices and assumptions? How does my heritage sway my conclusions?

We will be asking the above questions all under the aegis of the course goals outlined by Longwood University's catalog:

Upon completion of the course, students will have gained an appropriate increase in:
1. An understanding and appreciation of history and historical inquiry through the use of research, critical thinking, and problem solving.
2. A sense of how historical knowledge has been affected by new findings and approaches.
3. An appreciation for how history poses ethical dilemmas and challenges, both for men and women who lived in the past, and for those pondering its significance now.
4. An appreciation for how knowledge of history helps clarify the consequences of collective action, both in the past and in the present.
5. A sense of history as combining a variety of disciplines, approaches, and perspectives.
6. An awareness of the diverse modes of gathering, analyzing and interpreting information.
7. An ability to express oneself clearly and concisely on paper, by means of a substantive written assignment or series of written assignments.
8. An understanding of how history relates to other disciplines and modes of inquiry.
9. An awareness of how historical inquiry can contribute to understanding the issues and dilemmas that face the contemporary citizen.
10. An understanding of the historical development of Western civilization in its formative stages.
11. A sense of how to relate the development of Western civilization to other regions of the world.
12. An understanding of how historical cultural developments influence the present day.

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Note the importance of Goal 7: the writing component. History is a discipline of writing as much as reading. The papers and exam essays will be your opportunity to demonstrate your ability to express your conclusions about historical events and historical scholarship. Don’t blow this off and do slipshod work.

Grading &Assignments

Participation: (10%) Our course will be a mixture of lectures and seminar-style participation. Come to class prepared with that day's readings already digested (i.e., don’t just cast your eyes over the words on the page or screen; think about the implications and issues involved). Be ready to ask questions; be ready to be asked questions. Obviously, this will be especially true for discussion days.

Papers: (35%) Two papers will be due. The larger of the two (worth 20%) will be a six-page, tightly-focused analysis of one primary source. Read that again: tightly focused. This does not mean, for example, that you will analyze the entire Iliad, nor even a single chapter/book of it, but most likely a particular passage within a chapter. The same holds true for any other source you choose. Maybe you'll examine one vase painting, or a fragment of Sappho's poetry. You will have to confirm your choice with the professor, and once selected, you may not change your choice merely at your whim. Further guidelines are in the course's Canvas site.

The other paper will be a 3-4 page review (worth 15%) of an historiographical issue/debate. At a minimum, students should expect to read at least two articles (maybe more, maybe a monograph!) in which historians have taken up contested sides in a particular debate concerning ancient Greek history. One obvious contender for this would be the essays in Men of Bronze, which deal with the ongoing arguments regarding the so-called Hoplite Revolution. There are others to consider, and much of the supplemental reading (below in the table) gives you some early hints as to where your reading and interests could go.

Exams: (45%) We will have three exams, which count includes the final. Each one will comprise 15% of the course grade. There will be an objective component to each exam, but the majority of each exam will be based on essays (essays which should demonstrate both a command of the historical information and the relevant concepts).

Quizzes: (10%) There will be five small quizzes. Two of them—the scheduled ones—will focus on your knowledge of the geography of the Hellenic world. The other three will monitor your command of the reading material; they may occur at any point in the semester.

And the Rest...Be certain to read my “General Policies” page as well for further information on how your performance in the course will be assessed.

Lecture &Reading Schedule

It is expected that you will come to class with the readings below already completed on their due date. This preparation on your part will help lectures move along that much faster and thereby give us more opportunity for fruitful discussions. For the web-based materials in the Roisman/Yardley sourcebook, the gateway to those documents is here.
  • Date Lecture/Seminar Topic Readings & Assignments Supplemental Reading
    18 Jan Introduction to Course Go over Syllabus & Selected Readings  
    20 Jan Historiography (from Victoria to Afrogenesis) and Forms of Evidence
  • Roisman, 1–12
  • Levine, "The Uses and Abuses of Black Athena"
    23 Jan
  • Geography
  • “The Homeric Question”
  • Porter, “Homer: The Very Idea”
    25 Jan Myth & History
  • Excerpt from Hesiod (Canvas)
  • M.I. Finley, “Myth, Memory, and History”
  • Burkert, Excerpts from Homo Necans
    27 Jan Cycladic and Minoan Cultures
  • Iliad, “Introduction,” ix–xxxii
  • Knappett & Schoep, “Continuity and Change in Minoan Palatial Power”
    30Jan Mycenaean Greece I
    Map Quiz

  • Iliad, “Introduction,” xxxii–xlii
  • Excerpt: “The First Greeks”
    1 Feb Mycenaean Greece II
  • Iliad, 1–42
  • Traill, “Schliemann's ‘Discovery’ of ‘Priam's Treasure’”
    3 Feb Mycenaean Greece III
  • Iliad, 43-79
    6 Feb Dark Age Greece
  • Iliad, 79–101
  • Excerpt: “Dark Age Expansion”
  • 8 Feb Homer and Hesiod's World
  • Roisman, 27–47
  • Iliad, 101–121
  • Howe, “Linear B and Hesiod's Breadwinners”
    10 Feb
  • Society in the Archaic Age
  • The Rise of the Polis
  • Roisman, 48–57 (incl. Web 3.2)
  • Iliad, 122–138
  • Salmon, “The Economic Role of the Greek City”
  • 13 Feb Exam Iliad, 139–157  
    15 Feb Archaic Age: Tyrants and Colonies
  • Roisman, 59–68, 78–83 (incl. Web 4.5 & 4.5.1)
  • Van Wees, “The Homeric Way of War”
    17 Feb Sparta in the Archaic Age Roisman, 85–116 (incl. Web 7.16, 7.21, 7.23, and 7.29.I-V)
  • Cartledge, “The Politics of Spartan Pederasty”
  • Cartledge, “Spartan Wives: Liberation or Licence?”
  • 20 Feb The Hoplite Revolution: Intro
  • Roisman, 117–125
  • K&V: 1–35
  • Salmon, “Political Hoplites?”
  • Connor, “Early Greek Land Warfare as Symbolic Expression”
  • 22 Feb The Hoplite Revolution: Bookends
  • K&V: 35–49
  • K&V: 256–270
    24 Feb The Hoplite Revolution: In the Midst
  • K&V: 134–169
    27 Feb Athens in the Archaic Age
    Source Analysis Proposal Due!
    Roisman, 128–147 Gouschin, “Pisistratus' Leadership”
    1 March Athens and the Invention of Democracy Roisman, 147–164  
    3 March The Persian Wars: Marathon & Democracy Roisman, 196–202, 204–215 Redfield, “Herodotus the Tourist”
    6-10 March Spring Break
  • You’ll be studying with the Muses, right?
    13 March The Persian Wars: Thermopylae Roisman, 217–229 Jameson, “Waiting for the Barbarian”
    15 March Salamis, Plataea & Changed Horizons
  • Roisman, 230–244
  • Hall, “Asia unmanned: Images of victory in classical Athens”
    17 March Athens: road to Empire
  • Roisman, 247–265
  • West, “Trophies of the Persian Wars”
    20 March Athens: the School of Greece?
    Historiography Review Due
  • Roisman, 312–320, and Pericles’Funeral Oration
  • Flory, “Who Read Herodotus' Histories?”
  • 22 March Public Life
  • Roisman, 268–282
  • Woodbury, “Anaxagoras and Athens”
  • 24 March Athenian Drama
    Source Analysis Bibliography Due
    27 March Greek Religion
  • Roisman, 184–190
  • Davidson, 3–26
  • Nagy, “Athenian Officials on the Parthenon Frieze” 
    29 March EXAM    
    31 March Peloponnesian War I Roisman, 284–298, 304–308  
    3 Apr A Day in the Life...
  • Roisman, 166–180
  • Davidson, 36–69
  • Madison, “Have We Been Careless with Socrates Last Words?”
    5 Apr Peloponnesian War II
  • Roisman, 322–348
  • Davidson, 73–108
  • Hardwick, “Philomel and Pericles: Silence in the Funeral Speech”
  • Hornblower, “The Religious Dimension to the Peloponnesian War”
  • 8 Apr Peloponnesian War III
  • Roisman, 361–380
  • Davidson, 109–136
  • Finley, “Athenian Demagogues”
    10 Apr Peloponnesian War IV
  • Roisman, 383–404
  • Davidson, 139–167
  • Jameson, “Politics and the Philoctetes”
    12 Apr The Dust Settles?
  • Roisman, 406–413
    14 Apr Drama
  • Roisman, 312–320
  • Osborne, “Socrates in the Platonic Dialogues”
    17 Apr Philosophy Plato, Symposium  
    19 Apr The Limits of Expression? Plato, Symposium  
    21 Apr Gender & Sexuality
  • Davidson, 167–182
  • Roisman, 502–517
  • Halperin, “Is There a History of Sexuality?”
  • Schaps, “What was Free about an Athenian Woman?”
  • Hardwick, “Ancient Amazons...”
  • 24 Apr Hegemonic Rivalries Roisman, 426–432, 442–463 Shrimpton, “The Theban Supremacy”
    28 Apr Philip and the Rise of Macedon
    Source Analysis due!
    Roisman, 471–475, 520–526, 538–543
    Markle, “The Strategy of Philip in 346BC”
    1 May Alexander the Great
  • Roisman, 544–577
  • Davidson, 250–277
  • Mitchell, “Athens in the Age of Alexander”
  • Carney, “Alexander and Persian Women ”
  • 4 May Final Exam Davidson: 278–315  

    Academic Honesty

    It is unfortunate, but every year some students attempt to submit work which is not their own. This act is, of course, the crime of plagiarism. Do not test your luck in this arena. The eventual odds are against you, and the penalties are unpleasant. Any student who submits plagiarized work will automatically fail the entire course. Previous students have found that I do not negotiate this point. If you're not sure what constitutes academic dishonesty, consult the student handbook, ask your instructors, or see my links to the problem.

    Required Reading

    Textbook/Primary Sources:
  • Roisman, Ancient Greece from Homer to Alexander
  • Homer, The Essential Iliad (Lombardo translation, Hackett edition)
  • Plato, The Symposium
  • Kagan & Viggiano, Men of Bronze
  • Davidson, Courtesans and Fishcakes
  • Web Resources

    No list of websites can ever be exhaustive, but here at least are some worth a visit:

  • The British School at Athens: the virtual tours of their excavation sites, especially Knossos, are so wonderfully detailed.
  • Metis: Quicktime video heaven for lovers of Greek ruins. See full panoramas of Greek sites on the mainland, across the islands, and in Asia Minor.
  • Perseus Digital Library: Primary sources & classical authors by the score, plus countless images of Greek and Roman art and architecture. A bit cumbersome to navigate but worth figuring out.
  • Athenian Agora Excavation, conducted by the American School of Classical Studies: detailed overview (with photos) of the site.
  • The Hellenic Ministry of Culture: Some students might benefit from clicking on “The Cultural Map of Greece”, but feel free to muck about wherever you wish. Another link of note would be the Greek government’s policy statements on the return of the Elgin marbles from Great Britain.
  • Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall's nearly indispensable compendium of copyright free sources. It does, however, need a bit of work updating the broken links.

    Contacting Dr. Isaac

    Office: Ruffner 226A
    Telephone: 395-2225
    Office Hours: 1:00 MWF
    Feel free to drop in at anytime; if I can’t see you during the usual office hours, I will gladly set up an appointment at your convenience.