ClSt 283 / Hist 230

Greek History

Syllabus F16


Joshua D. Sosin
TA: Mr. Alex Fowler [alexander.fowler AT] | OH by appt
TA: Mr. Adrian High [adrian.high AT] | OH by appt

Coordinates: TuTh 13:25-14:40; Soc Psych 126

Classical Studies, 229A Allen Bldg. & DC3, 2nd floor Bostock
OH: M 0930-1100
and any time you find me on campus;
I am generally here M-F 0600-1600
I read email M-F 0600-1600

Spiel: This course is an exploration of Greek history from the Bronze Age to the 4th century B.C. We will focus on primary sources, reading Homer's Iliad, selections from the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides, a bit of tragedy and comedy, and a number of courtroom speeches (from actual trials). The first 40-50 minutes of each class will be lecture, and the balance, more free form (we may be a bit too big for full-class discussion, but we will do our best).

Sources: books to purchase (you can probably find all of these used, usually pretty cheap);

  1. Homer, Iliad, translated by R. Fagles (New York 1990). There are many printings; just be sure to get one translated by Fagles and with intro by B. Knox.
  2. Thucydides, R. B. Strassler, editor, The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War (New York 1998).
  3. S. B. Pomeroy et al., A Brief History of Ancient Greece (3rd ed, Oxford 2009).

Bronze Age - Archaic
Week For Tue. For Thu.

08/30 - Introductions / Models
Shape of the Course, Lay of the Land

On writing (7:48)

09/01 - Bronze Age
: BHAG intro and ch. 1
READ: Homer, Iliad - Knox Intro

Look in class: Indo-European diaspora / Cherchen mummy / Chinese plaid / again

Map of Crete / Knossos (aer. / plan / rendering) / Phaistos (aer. / plan / court) / Zakro (aer. / plan) / Phaistos-Mallia-Kato Zakro aer. / Linear B / again / again / again / syllabary / Amharic | Mycenae | / Minoan seal / again / again / again |

Hom. Il. 1.1-7 / line-end formulas

  • aretê: excellence, bravery, valor
  • biê: violent might
  • ergon: deed, work, action
  • kleos: renown, reputation, what is said and heard about a person
  • kudos: just reward for excellence
  • logos: word, argument, reason, logic
  • polis, -eis: city-state
  • timê: honor

  • Indo-Europeans
  • Linear B
  • Homeric Question
  • Dactylic hexameter
  • Guslar / No idea what this is

09/06 - Religion and Law
READ: Iliad bks 1-4

Start: BHAG ch. 2
DP: Bring three favorite passages from the Iliad; be prepared to discuss what draws you to them

  • agôn, -ones: contest, competition, games
  • agora: public center of a polis in and around which commerce, law, and religion took place
  • basileus, -eis: king: chieftain
  • boulê: council (of elders, of officials)
  • xenos / -oi: guest, host, foreigner
  • xenia : guest-host relationship

rough outline

09/08 - What's in a Name?
READ: Il. 5-8

Finish: BHAG ch. 2
BRING: LEAF 01: You vs Text [rough sample of Txt v Txt]

  • aristeia: that moment in epic when a hero is at his most shining
  • oikos, -oi: house, household
  • Suppliant : Thetis supplicates Zeus (Ingres)

rough outline


09/13 - Material culture
READ: Il. 9-12

Start: BHAG ch. 3
DP: Bring a pair of passages from the Iliad that somehow relate to each other; be prepared to discuss how they relate

Gr. from space / Attica before 800 / 8th c. | Protogeometric skyphos / early protogeom. / again / again / Attic geom. amphora | late geom. amph. | late geom. crater | dipylon 990 | dip.804 / detail | met. for scale | detail | detail | detail |

temple form: Paestum / again | Hera Samos / Hera Olympia / Pylos plan with megaron | Lefkandi (Gr. from space) / plan / again / burials / again

megaron > Lefkandi > Paestum | Horse evolution in 1902

Colonization: west / east

"Nestor's cup" / close / drawing |

09/15 - Gods and Heroes.
READ: Il. 13-16

Finish: BHAG ch. 3
BRING: LEAF 02: You vs Text

Dead Sarpedon

imagining the past: Helen's happy family (P) / and Paris | Paris (with Art.) flees Μenelaus (with Aphr.) / Ajax (with Ath.) vs. Hector (with Ap.) / inside with Eos carrying Memnon (P) | Phoinix and Briseis surrounded by violence even against a child (Astyanax) (P) | Taking Briseis and embassy | Diomedes (with Ath.) vs. Aeneas (with Aphr.) / detail | Recon bk. 10 (P) | Hector arming / Priam | Achilles and Ajax play scrabble (P) / again red, again black (P) / again (P) / again (P) / again, other side (P)


09/20 - Hammering out law.
READ: Il. 17-20

Start: BHAG ch. 4
DP: Bring a pair of passages (as above) ...

09/22 - Cooperative virtue and the polis
READ: Il. 21-24

Finish: BHAG ch. 4
BRING: LEAF 03: Text vs Text

Achilles arms (P) | Achilles dragging (P) | ransoming Hector (P) / another (P) / another (P)

Archaic - Classical
Week For Tue. For Thu.

09/27 - Historia
READ: Herodotus bk 1.1-94 (box)
DP: unpack a short passage from Hdt. (example); your comments don't need to be as numerous or detailed as mine; but do try to frame observations around specific details in the text.
This can be in effect notes to your Leaf if you like.

  • apoikia: colonization
  • hoplite phalanx
  • ethnos, -ê : people, tribe, nation
  • synoikismos : binding together of oikoi
  • helot : Sparta's bound underclass
  • historia : enquiry > history
  • logos, -oi : word, argument, reason, story
  • akleos : not having kleos (see above)
  • aitia : cause, blame

rough outline

Hdt. 1.1

Map of Greece / of Persia // Acropolis painting | approach (St) | frieze from south (St) /

09/29 -
READ: Hdt. 1.95-216

BRING: LEAF 04: Text vs Text


10/04 - Religion and Tragedy
READ: Hdt. 2.1-115

DP: Bring a pair of passages, 1 from Hdt, 1 from Hdt. or Homer (as above) ...


10/06 - Nomos and Physis
READ: Hdt. 2.116-3.60

BRING: LEAF 05: Text vs Text

A Persian / Greek fighting Persian | An "Ethiopian" | A Scythian | Herakles fighting Egyptians / larger


10/11 - Fall Break - no class

10/13 - Persians
READ: Hdt. 3.61-160

Start: BHAG ch. 5
DP: Bring a pair of passages, 1 from Hdt, 1 from Hdt. or Homer (as above) ...

  • Cylon (ca.632) > Draco (ca.620) > Solon (ca.594) > Peisistratus, Hippias, Hipparchus (ca.560-510) > Cleisthenes (508/7)
  • ho boulomenos : he who wishes
  • Pentakosiomedimnoi : 500 medimnoi
  • Hippeis (cavalry) : 300 med.
  • Zeugitai (yokers) : 200 med.
  • Thetes : below 200 med.
  • Shore (merchants/traders) / Hill (poor) / Plain (landed)
  • 4 old Tribes
  • new 10 Tribes / 3 regions / ca.150 demes / trittyes (map / scheme)
  • Boulê (Council, 500)
  • Ekklêsia (Assembly, 6000)
  • Ostracism
  • Ionian rebellion (499 BC) : Miletos (494 BC)
  • Themistocles
  • Persian Wars: 490 Marathon / 480/79 Artemisium (sea, Ath.), Thermopylae (land, Sp.), Salamis (sea, Ath.), Plataea (land, Sp.)

Cleisthenes' divisions map / scheme | Ostraka | Kleroterion drawing / top / bottom | ballots | Athens Aerial / Plan

Persian wars : Marathon / aerial / mound / again | Trireme / again | Piraeus / aerial | Salamis | Thermopylae | Xerxes' canal



10/18 - Tyranny and Democracy
Finish: BHAG ch.5
READ: BHAG ch. 6
DP: Bring list of three things from BHAG 5-6 that you found interesting, weird, illuminating

Hdt. 1.1 / Thuc. 1.1

  • pentekontaetia : "50-yr period" between Persian and Peloponnesian wars
  • syngraphê : compilation, treatise, contract
  • paraskeuê : preparation
  • mythôdes : singing of tales/myths
  • agônisma : something that competes for attention
  • ktêma : possession
  • tekmêrion : evidence


10/20 - Power and Preparedness
READ: Thuc. bk. 1

Start: BHAG ch. 7
DP: Bring three questions about Thuc. 1



10/25 - Reason and Passion
READ: Thuc. 2.1-65, 70-79, 86-103 (but do note 2.67)

Finish: BHAG ch. 7
DP: Bring a pair of passages, 1 from Thuc, 1 from Hdt. or Homer (as above) ...

  • Annalistic: year by year
  • gnômê : reason, plan
  • orgê : rage, passion
  • stasis : internal discord, revolution
  • dêmosia : public
  • idia : private


10/27 - Discourse and Justice
READ: Thuc. 3.1-85

BRING: LEAF 06: Text vs Text

  • Logos / -oi : speech, account, argument
  • dikê (dikaion) : justice
  • adikon : unjust
  • ergon : deed, action
  • dêmos : people
  • oligoi : few



11/01 - Law and Right
READ: Sophocles, Antigone

DP: Bring two pairs of passages, 2 from Soph. Ant., 2 from Thuc. or Hdt. or Homer (as above) ...

11/03 - Accident and fear, grasping at history
READ: Thuc. 4.1-23, 26-41, 46-48, 58-65, 117-123
READ: Paragraph summaries for all skipped paragraphs

BRING: LEAF 07: Text vs Text


11/08 - Dialogue and Peace
READ: Thuc. 5.1-26, 32, 40-50, 76-80, 84-116
READ: Paragraph summaries for all skipped paragraphs

IG I³ 1147 / IG I³ 34 / IG I³ 46

11/10 - Religion and knowledge
READ: Thuc. 6 all

DP: Bring three passages where Thuc seems to raise issues or phenomena that we have seen before

Herm (P) / another (P) / another, opposite side (P) / another (P) / another / another (P) / in miniature

Athens after Empire
Week For Tue. For Thu.

11/15 - New Persia
READ: Thuc. 7

READ: BHAG ch. 8, pp. 239-245

11/17 - War and Peace
READ: Aristophanes, Lysistrata
Start: BHAG ch. 9
BRING: LEAF 08: Text vs World



11/22 - Discussion: Killing Community
READ: Lysias 12
READ: Lysias 20
READ: Lysias 13
Finish: BHAG ch. 9
DP: Bring three questions about the rdgs

11/24 - Thanksgiving - no class


11/29 - Discussion: Sex and Violence
READ: Lysias 1

Lysias 3
READ: Demosthenes 54
DP: Bring three questions about the rdgs

12/01 - Discussion: Trust and Fraud
READ: Demosthenes 52
READ: Isocrates 17
READ: Hypereides 3

READ: Demosthenes 35
BRING: LEAF 09: Text vs World


12/06 - Discussion: Religion and Speech
READ: Lysias 7

READ: Lysias 9
READ: Lysias 10

DP: Bring three questions about the rdgs

12/08 - Discussion: Killing Socrates
READ: Plato, Apology
BRING: LEAF 10: Text vs World


Sweat: You can earn a total of 400 points over the semester; they break down as follows:

Participation = 150 points

  • Attendance. Daily attendance is essential. A good lecture does not merely review or summarize what you have already read; rather, it complements the readings, builds arguments on them, models how to think with the primary sources.
  • Prompts. Most Tuesdays (and some Thursdays) you are asked to bring a very short typed discussion prompt or DP (sometimes a few questions, sometimes comparison of a couple passages, sometimes a very short interpretive exercise). These are not papers; please do not spend more than 10 minutes or so per exercise. These are meant to give you an opportunity (1) to pause after the day's reading and think a bit about what is important and interesting, (2) to show that you are staying on top of the readings, (3) to tee up a few interesting items for discussion in class. These will be collected and marked (submitted or not submitted) but not 'graded.'
  • Quizzes. Occasional, brief (3-5 mins), unannounced, simple quizzes will help you (1) keep on top of the reading and (2) show me that you are doing so.

Leaves = 150 points. "One of the folds of a folded sheet of paper, parchment, etc.; esp. one of a number of folds (each containing two pages) which compose a book or manuscript, a folio; hence, the matter printed or written thereon" (OED s.v. leaf n1 II.7.a). There are no formal essays due in this class. Instead, you will have the opportunity to write 10 one-page (please absolutely no more than 375 words!) leaves. Each is worth 15 points. The goal is not to generate polished papers, but ideas (or their kernels). Descriptions follow:

    1. You vs Text [Identify something from our readings that struck you as interesting, surprising, odd, difficult to understand--anything that really caught your interest for any reason (cite specific passages please). Tell us why. This exercise asks what seems interesting, in one or more texts, in the light of what you think or know. Feel free to circle or otherwise highlight the sentence or clause that contains the crux of your observation.]
    2. You vs Text
    3. Text vs Text [Read one of this week's readings (or some section of one) against any other reading we've encountered so far. How does the one illuminate, contradict, agree with, flesh out, etc. the other? Please focus on and address specific passages (or phenomena). Feel free to circle or otherwise highlight the sentence or clause that contains the crux of your idea/observation. This exercise asks what seems interesting, in one or more texts, in the light of what one or more other texts say, and why. This last part is important. First observe what you observe and then take the next step: why does it matter. Turn your observation into the seed of an idea.]
    4. Text vs Text
    5. Text vs Text
    6. Text vs Text
    7. Text vs Text
    8. Text vs World [Read one of this week's readings (or some section of one) either (i) against the sum of the semester's readings and discussions, (ii) in the light of some other area in which you have special interest or knowledge, or (iii) in answer to the question, "Why on earth should anyone read this old stuff?" This exercise aks what seems interesting in one or more texts in the light of your own wider engagement with the subject of this course, or the world in which you live.
    9. Text vs World
    10. Text vs World

Assessing the Leaves. Each Leaf will be assessed on a simple five-point scale.

  • 11 points (out of 15): On-time delivery, but short of 375 words and/or writing shows little or no engagement with the texts and/or is so unclearly written that it is impossible to discern the idea at which you are driving. [words]
  • 12 points: On-time delivery of 375 words. Writing engages with the texts insofar as it reveals an observation, but does not address why the observation matters, does not pivot from words to thought; the leaf might nod in this direction but be so unclearly written as to render assessment difficult. [words + a start]
  • 13 points: Writing is clear, but it shows engagement only inasmuch as it recapitulates lecture or class discussion; it is clear but does not take ownership of any ideas. Note: please feel free to build on and expand ideas discussed in class, but find a way to make them your own [words + an idea]
  • 14 points: Writing is clear and contains 1 good, clear, interesting idea of your own devising. [words + your idea]
  • 15 points: Writing is clear, compelling, well-crafted, and efficient, and contains 1 or more good, clear, interesting ideas of your own devising [words and your ideas are as one]

This will generate not the grade, but a figure from which to calculate one; growth and improvement count.

Note: there is a simple way to raise the mark of any one Leaf by one point. After you have received back your marked Leaf

  1. Trade Leaves with a peer
  2. Each of you write a brief response / assessment of the other’s Leaf—a few careful sentences will suffice;
  3. Trade back and respond to your peer’s response—again, a few careful sentences will do
  4. Turn in the Leaf which will now bear the comments of your grader, your classmate, and yourself. We will add the point and return the Leaf at the next session.

Your classmate's job is to try to put him/herself in your shoes and appreciate what you are trying to say in your Leaf; your job is to put yourself in your classmate's shoes and try to appreciate how s/he reacted to your Leaf. This is an exercise in imagining the mindset of your reader. This is purely optional.

Final Exam = 100 points. Three hours. Thursday, December 15 ; 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM ; Closed book. Description TBA