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greek history survey course
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 1994
From: Andrew Erskine
Subject: greek history survey course

I'm considering introducing an introductory greek history course for first year students which provides a survey from Mycenaean times to hellenistic age. But I've two problems with this 1. Is it a good or bad idea? Do any list members have a view on merits of such courses from their own experience either as teachers or students? 2. Is there a text book that can be used with such a course?

Date: Fri, 7 Jan 1994
From: Jim Helm
Subject: Re: greek history survey course

I'd like to second Andrew Erskine's request for a discussion of introductory Greek history courses. I have offered one such as he describes (survey from Mycenaean times to hellenistic age) for a number of years, and always agonize over which textbook to use. For some time I used A.R.Burn's _Pelican History of Greece_, short enough to give an overview and leave time to concentrate on Herodotus and Thucydides in translation, plus something on the hellenistic era (e.g., Tarn's _Hellenistic Civilization_). But most of this is pretty dated by now. So last time around I used Boardman/Griffin/Murray's _Oxford History of Greece and the Hellenistic World_, but found it too brief on the actual historical events. I next teach it in 1995, and would appreciate any ideas others have on the topic. Incidentally, I also have students read other primary works, including selected lives of Plutarch, Aristotle's Ath Pol, Xenophon's Spart Pol, the "Old Oligarch" and the Oxyrhynchus Historian, all as found in J.M. Moore's useful collection, called _Aristotle and Xenophon on Democracy and Oligarchy_; plus a bit from Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Politics, and a few more recent articles as well.

Date: Fri, 7 Jan 1994
From: Owen Cramer
Subject: Re: greek history survey course

I took Nate Greenberg's form of the survey course Jim Helm describes, in the late '50s, and recall it with pleasure; I've also done what he describes with the Boardman et al. volume plus readings. Lately I've centered a one-unit course on the Hellenistic period, partly because we have another course called "Greek History and Philosophy" which does Plato and Aristotle in a Homer-to-5th-cent. context including a lot of Herodotus and Thucydides, and partly because I like the Hellenistic as a prototype of multicultural educated elite living in case that's useful for students. Students, btw, are now demanding more of a timeline in any course (e. g. literature): few can place any event/book/person with any clarity; few have a historical understanding of the Bible. I'd say the Greek history survey ought to include the late Bronze Age and the Achaemenids in the Near East, at least.

Date: Fri, 7 Jan 1994
From: Greg Daugherty
Subject: Re: greek history survey course

Yes it is a good idea. Students can profit from an overview of Greek history. However, it is not practical to cover all periods in equal depth. In my own course the Helladic and Hellenistic periods get treated in very broad terms (about 3 hours each out of 39 total). I used to give them mu ch more space, but I keep adding topics to the classical section. I still believe that it is important to show students where the Greeks came from and where they were headed.

> 2. Is there a text book that can be used with such a course?

I use Bury/Meiggs, but have use the english Bengtson and Botsford and Robinson. I also use a Mary Renault novel (usually LAst of the Wine) something Hellenistic (nothing I would recommend) and various readers and source or problem books none of which have pleased me. Ocassionally I have used Hdt or Thuc but not with great results. Jim Arieti uses only the ancient historians!

Date: Fri, 7 Jan 1994
From: Doug Burgess
Subject: Re: greek history survey course

As an historian, I think it is a great idea to Greek history! Actually I teach about nine different courses on a rotation basis, so I teach the Greek history every three semesters or so. This is what I do: Books: Jean Hatzfeld. *History of Ancient Greece* I used to use N.G.L. Hammond, but was having problems with getting the students to read it. It is wonderful, but very dense. Botsford and Robinson is great. I used it as an undergrad. But after talking to some friends, and having used Hatzfeld when I was a T.A. at Wisconsin, I decided on it. It is straightforward and the students *read* it and seem to like it. Primary Sources: Herodotus and Thucydides (Modern Library editions) R. Lattimore *Greek Lyrics* Plutarch. *The Rise and Fall of Athens* and *The Age of Alexander* (Penguin editions) Sophocles. *The Theban Plays* (Penguin edition) Antigone and Oedipus Rex I cover the following subject area (or try to): Early Greece: Minoan and Mycenaean. Greece in the Dark Ages. The Age of Colonization. Early Sparta. The Rise of Tyrants. The Rise of Athens. Greek Culture and Civilization. The Persian War. Periclean Athens and the Athenian Empire. The Periclean Age. The Peloponnesian War. Greece in the Fourth Century. Religion and Culture in the Fourth Century. Rise of Macedon. Alexander the Great. The Successor Kingdoms and the Hellenistic Period. I give three essay exams during the semester. And one research paper of moderate length (12-15 pages...we have a relatively poor library here in the hills). I don't always finish the syllabus. The students get interested in various things, and I try to adapt to that interest. For instance, we usually spend one lecture each on Antigone and O.Rex. I have them read them in the order written, so that they get the development of the thought of Sophocles. They usually get really interested in Minoan civilization or in Pericles and Athens. I would rather that they understood the fundamental character of the culture and the mechanisms that made it work than get to the end of the syllabus every time. If they understand a little about those things...they can finish the book later. I know that this will probably seem like a lot of reading to some people. However, I am determined that they at least read some of these things, since they are so important for the development of Western culture and literature. I test them on both the reading and the lectures...and most seem to read. They do have marked preferences. There is is tendency to like Herodotus more than Thucydides, at least until they warm up to T. And they like the plays more than some of the lyric age poetry...although Sappho seems to ring a bell with them. Until recently, we required this course of all History majors, so a certain number of students take it because they have to do so. But last semester, when I taught Roman history, 30 was the cap on the course. I had over forty requests to cut into the course, which I eventually ran up to about forty-five. The same was more or less true of the Greek history course last year. I expect that then enrollment will drop some, now that it is no longer an absolute requirement. On the other hand, there seems to be a real fascination among our students (at least) for all things ancient. My senior-graduate level class on Egypt and Mesopotamia this Fall had about 33 students. It is a non-required course and I was expecting 10 or 12. The same thing with the Ancient Religions course I taught last summer.

Date: Sat, 8 Jan 1994
From: Tim Parkin
Subject: Re: greek history survey course

I teach an introductory Greek history course, over a 12-week period, to about 120 students every year. I enjoy it, and judging by student reactions and results, so do they, though the reading for it is heavy. The course covers Homer to Alexander, with a very brief intro. on the Bronze Age. Various topics (e.g. Periclean Athens) are covered in some depth, others (e.g. early 4th century) are rapidly skimmed through. The focus is on political and social history, rather than military, and rather than plain narrative, emphasis is placed on the investigation of specific questions and on interpretation of primary sources. The students are expected to read (in Penguin translations) Herodotus, Thucydides, and most of the 2 Penguin vols. of Plutarch's Greek Lives. Plus they get a 100-page book of other documents, literary and epigraphical, in translation, that we produce here ourselves. As a modern text I've set - for lack of anything else readily available and relatively cheap in this part of the world - Fine's *The Ancient Greeks*, though many of them find it a little on the dull side. But I plan to go back to O. Murray's *Early Greece* and J.K. Davies' *Democracy and Classical Greece*, now that Fontana have brought out second editions. The course leads on to second and third year courses on more specific areas of Greek history - Bronze Age Aegean, and Greek Social History. However, we plan to get a *real* Greek historian here this year, so after 5 years of teaching this course, I'll be happy enough to devote myself more to Roman history henceforth!

Date: Mon, 10 Jan 1994
From: Tony Keen
Subject: Re: greek history survey course

My recommendations to my students were usually the following: As a basic cultural survey, one of the plethora of Penguins on the Greeks: either Kitto, Andrewes, Burn or Finley (of course, these are rather dated now, but nothing's yet replaced them - I haven't read Cartledge's new book yet). As a more detail historical summary, either Bury-Meiggs (also now dated) or Hammond (less dated, but contains some strange ideas - the real problem is that Hammond never signals when he's being controversial). For more detailed narrative, the Fontana History of the Ancient World volumes (Murray on the Archaic period, Davies on the Classical and Walbank on the Hellenistic) are as good as anything. An alternative for the Archaic period is Finley, and Hornblower and Powell are alternatives for the Classical period; there is no other modern book on the Hellenistic period that's any good (Tarn & Griffith being a bit dated now). For primary material, I'd recommend Herodotos, Thucydides and Xenophon, and a good source collection (Crawford & Whitehead on the Archaic and Classical periods & Austin on the Hellenistic period), and getting the students to read passages of other ancient works as relevant to particular topics. Of course, the above is only my opinion (and should be read in the context of teaching to History students rather than Classicists).

Date: Tue, 11 Jan 1994
From: Stephen R Bell
Subject: Re: greek history survey course

Frankly, I think that including Mycenaean and Hellenistic eras into a survey course is a fantastic idea. As unundergrad, and then as a grad, it always bugged me when I could not connect two important eras. For instance, how can one really appreciate the hellenic influence on rome without understanding hellenistic culture. And how can one understand so much of th4 ancient past w/o understanding homer and his World. I'd encourage you to go for it. I missed out on those eras in my undergrad education, and i wish I had not. As far as book go, Rostovtzeff is still good reading (for lecture material at any rate, (for the hellenistic age)), M I Finley has a good book on the Mycenean age, but its kinda getting old, The Oxford volumes of the classical age are good (one on greece and one on Rome) I am sure you'll have others responding who are more knowledgeable yet, but do teach the course.
Culled from classics.log9401a and classics.log9401b.
Copyright © 2001 David Meadows
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