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.
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:
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.
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.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|
|25 Jan||Myth & History
||Burkert, Excerpts from Homo Necans|
|27 Jan||Cycladic and Minoan Cultures
|30Jan||Mycenaean Greece I
|1 Feb||Mycenaean Greece II
||Traill, “Schliemann's ‘Discovery’ of ‘Priam's Treasure’”|
|3 Feb||Mycenaean Greece III
|6 Feb||Dark Age Greece|
|8 Feb||Homer and Hesiod's World||Howe, “Linear B and Hesiod's Breadwinners”|
|13 Feb||Exam||Iliad, 139–157|
|15 Feb||Archaic Age: Tyrants and Colonies||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)|
|20 Feb||The Hoplite Revolution: Intro|
|22 Feb||The Hoplite Revolution: Bookends|
|24 Feb||The Hoplite Revolution: In the Midst|
|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|
|13 March||The Persian Wars: Thermopylae||Roisman, 217–229||Jameson, “Waiting for the Barbarian”|
|15 March||Salamis, Plataea & Changed Horizons
||Hall, “Asia unmanned: Images of victory in classical Athens”|
|17 March||Athens: road to Empire
||West, “Trophies of the Persian Wars”|
|20 March||Athens: the School of Greece?
Historiography Review Due
|22 March||Public Life
|24 March||Athenian Drama
Source Analysis Bibliography Due
|27 March||Greek Religion||Nagy, “Athenian Officials on the Parthenon Frieze”|
|31 March||Peloponnesian War I||Roisman, 284–298, 304–308|
|3 Apr||A Day in the Life...||Madison, “Have We Been Careless with Socrates Last Words?”|
|5 Apr||Peloponnesian War II|
|8 Apr||Peloponnesian War III||Finley, “Athenian Demagogues”|
|10 Apr||Peloponnesian War IV||Jameson, “Politics and the Philoctetes”|
|12 Apr||The Dust Settles?|
|14 Apr||Drama||Osborne, “Socrates in the Platonic Dialogues”|
|17 Apr||Philosophy||Plato, Symposium|
|19 Apr||The Limits of Expression?||Plato, Symposium|
|21 Apr||Gender & Sexuality|
|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
|5 May||Final Exam||Davidson: 278–315|
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.
No list of websites can ever be exhaustive, but here at least are some worth a visit:
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.