grk 312

or. and rhet.

syllabus s16

human: Joshua D. Sosin
coordinates: Allen 229 TuTh 1005-1120

Allen 229A / OH: M 930-11; T 14-1530;
and when I am in my office

SPIEL: This course explores what can be learned from reading Athenian court oratory. About social, economic, and cultural history. About the law. About conventions and strategies of argument. Also, these texts are just plain fun. The course should help you (a) to improve the ease, facility, and speed with which you read Greek prose, but also (b) to develop strategies for reading this material with an eye for political, social, economic, cultural, and legal history. We shall spend most of our time translating and discussing Greek.

Translating: You get good at reading Greek by reading Greek. So, if it is your practice to bring to class vocab lists, annotated xeroxes, or your own written translations please wean yourself from the habit by the end of week three, beyond which such are not allowed. These can be helpful tools for building vocabulary, improving fluency, or just getting through a day's portion. But the best way to grow as a reader is to give it your best shot in class, without a net, in real time, surrounded by peers who are ready to bail you out if you need it! If you forget something, ask. If you could not figure something out, ask. One of your peers may know. If not then I should. If I don't and no one does, well, we'll look it up together!

Readings: Every class moves at a different pace. We cannot know how quickly we'll move until we've gotten going and found a rhythm. So, we'll start with the following roster of texts; we'll make our way at a challenging but fair pace, and expand / contract the roster as needed:

  • Antiphon 1, Against the Stepmother : A young man prosecutes his stepmother on a charge of killing his father.
  • Lysias 1, On the Killing of Eratosthenes : A man defends himself against a charge of killing Eratosthenes, who was committing adultery with the defendant's wife.
  • Lysias 3, Against Simon : A man defends himself against a charge of "wounding with premeditation," allegedly committed during a drunken street-brawl over a male prostitute.
  • Demosthenes 54, Against Conon : A man prosecutes Conon for battery, another drunken street fight, this one with more mysterious causes.
  • Hyperides Against Athenogenes : Epicrates wanted to buy one of Athenogenes' slaves, but he was persuaded to buy the entire perfume factory in which the slave worked. He later discovered that in so doing he had also purchased the factory's debts. Now he sues for damages.
  • Demosthenes 32, Against Zenothemis : Borrow money against a cargo...pocket the cash without loading the cargo ... try to sink the boat so that you don't have to repay the loan ... wind up dead or in court!
  • Lysias 30, Against Nicomachos : Nicomachos was appointed to gather up all of Athens laws and inscribe them all in one place. But instead of taking a few months, it took years, and was a mess. Probably not his fault, but that didn't mean he wasn't sued!
  • Lysias 7, On the Sekos : by popular demand.
  • Lysias 8, Against the Members of an Association ; A guy is a member of a club whose members seem to hate him. He writes to complain.

All readings will be available online (via Each day after class, I shall post to this syllabus the reading target for the next class.

Effort: For every hour spent in class (3/wk) I expect you to devote 2-3 hours of preparation. That means you should spend 6-9 hours per week preparing for class.

Week Tuesday Thursday


01/12 - No class

01/14 - Ant. 1
AIM FOR: Antiphon 1.1-13 [1-8ish]


01/19 - Ant. 1
AIM FOR: Ant. 1.8-17 [8-19!]

01/21 - Ant. 1
AIM FOR: Ant. 1.20-31 [31] ... one speech down!


01/26 - Lysias 1
AIM FOR: Lys. 1.1-15 [1-16.5]

01/28 - Lysias 1
AIM FOR: Lys. 1.16-31 [16-31+]

TH quiz 01


01/02 - Lysias 1
AIM FOR: Lys. 1.31-50 [50] ... 2 down!

02/04 - Lysias 3
AIM FOR: Lysias 3.1-20 [17]


02/09 - Lysias 3
AIM FOR: Lysias 3.18-34

02/11 - Lysias
AIM FOR: Lysias 3.35-end ... 3 down!


02/16 - Demosthenes 54
AIM FOR: Dem. 54.1-8ish

02/18 - Demosthenes 54
AIM FOR: Dem. 54.8-18

TH quiz 02


02/23 - Demosthenes 54
AIM FOR: Dem. 54.18-27+

02/25 -Demosthenes 54
AIM FOR: Dem. 54.27-36/37


03/01 - Demosthenes 54
AIM FOR: Dem. 54.37-44 ... 4 down!

03/03 - Hypereides in Ath.
AIM FOR: Get as far as you can in the time allotted; feel free to use [TLG] [Loeb]


03/08 - Hypereides in Ath.
AIM FOR: ...keep at it.

03/10 - in-class Test


03/15 - Spring Break
AIM FOR: the snooze button

03/17 - Spring Break
AIM FOR: the snooze button


03/22 - Dem. 32
AIM FOR: Dem. 32.1-11

03/24 - Dem. 32
AIM FOR: Dem. 32.12-


03/29 - Lysias 30

03/31 - Lysias 30


04/05 - Lys. 30 / Lys. 7

04/07 - Lys. 7

TH quiz 03


04/12 - Lys. 7

04/14 - Lys. 7


04/19 - Libanius, Progymnasmata

04/21 - Libanius, Progymnasmata


04/26 - Lys. 8


  05/03 Final exam 7-10pm  

Sweat: You can earn a total of 500 points in this class; they break down as follows:

  1. Daily Translation: 250 points; this is the most critical feature of the course. We shall devote the bulk of each day in class to translating aloud.
  2. Quizzes: 75 points; we will take 3 short-ish (ca.30 min.) closed-book, take-home quizzes, worth a total of 75 points (25 pts each). These are meant to give you (and me) an indication of how well you are retaining material. Thus, I do not expect you to study much if at all for these quizzes. Get 'em, take 'em, turn 'em in. I shall email the quiz on Thu or Fri; you are on your honor not to look at the quiz until you are ready to take it. When you are ready, open the document, spend 30 mins (absolutely no more than 35). Email the completed quiz to me by 0900 the following Mon. I'll do my best to get them back to you in class the next day.
  3. Midterm test: 75 points; in-class translation exam. This, you should study for! You will have the opportunity to translate a selection of passages from the preceding weeks' work; probably a few grammar questions too.
  4. Final: 100 points; no dictionary. Tue, 3 May, 7-10PM

How I grade / calculate grades:

  • Grading Written Translations:
    • I assign a total number of points per passage, based on the number of lines (e.g. 4 points per line).
    • I underline words / parts of words (if, say, tense or number or case are wrong or incorrectly construed but the word’s dictionary meaning is right) in the Greek that have been translated incorrectly.
    • I squiggly-underline words that have been translated sub-optimally but are basically right.
    • I subtract points based roughly on presence of underlined passages; this is not a strictly mathematical process; one translation may have fewer underlined words and nevertheless fall far short of coherent English, while another may have slightly more underlined words, but indicate clearer control of meaning. That figure, a percentage, provides the starting point for further calculation based on fluency of English, command of Greek and English idiom, control of finer points of grammar vel sim.
    • I shall review all of this in class.
  • Grading In-Class Translations
    • Immediately after every class I enter into a spreadsheet (1) a grade for the day and (2) brief notes on your performance. If you are absent I'll record a 50%; don't miss class.
    • At the end of the semester I calculate an average daily reading grade. That figure, a percentage, provides the starting point for calculation of the daily translation grade--scope left for adjustment for progress.
    • If at any point you want to see your daily grades, ask.