Ancient Sources (Written Evidence) - Tyranny (CLA1301)

StaffProfessor Daniel Ogden - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

  • You will engage in in-depth thinking about the literary sources for archaic tyranny and learn the advantages and limitations of textual evidence for the understanding of the ancient world/history. The module considers the evidence and traditions relating to, amongst others: Pheidon of Argos, Cypselus of Corinth, Pisistratus of Athens, Cleisthenes of Sicyon, Theagenes of Megara, Pittacus of Mytilene, Polycrates of Samos and Cleomenes I of Sparta.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Through an analysis of key texts, on completion of this module you will, with guidance, be able to describe and evaluate the literary material bearing upon archaic tyranny
  • 2. Demonstrate a basic understanding of the problems of archaic history
  • 3. You will also, with guidance, be able to comment on features of traditional narratives

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. You will be able to use, analyse and evaluate ancient texts as a major source for understanding the ancient world
  • 5. You will also develop basic academic and library skills as well as a critical ability in assessing published literature on ancient tyranny

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. You will demonstrate independent and group study skills in guided research and presentation of findings
  • 7. You will also be able to select and organise relevant material and to present this in coherent oral and written form, and to discuss issues in a peer group
  • 8. You will be able to manage your own time and meet deadlines

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

Introduction and orientation, Course content and organisation; principal sources, Basileia (‘kingship’); Gyges of Lydia, Beginnings, Pheidon of Argos, Cypselus of Corinth, Periander of Corinth, Periander and Melissa, The court of Periander and his world, Pisistratus of Athens, The rise of Pisistratus, The rule of Pisistratus, The Pisistratids of Athens, Pisistratid rule and the tyrannicide, The great families under the Pisistratids, and the aftermath, Polycrates of Samos, The rise of Polycrates, Samos under Polycrates, Cleisthenes of Sicyon and Cleomenes I of Sparta, Cleisthenes of Sicyon, Cleomenes I of Sparta, Further monarchs of the archaic age: colonists, Battus of Cyrene, Myscellus of Croton, The discourse of power (partly), transformed: Macedon, The Macedonian foundation legends, The birth legends of Alexander the Great, The Hellenistic foundation legends, Seleucus, Ptolemy.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching22Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching4Seminars (whole group seminars/ seminar-presentations, either individual or in pairs or groups)
Guided independent study124Private study (study-groups meeting independently to prepare for seminars)

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Oral presentation10 minutes

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay assignment301500 words
Exam70Two hours

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssayReferral/Deferral period
ExaminationExaminationReferral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Set Texts:

  • Module handout, incorporating extended passages from Herodotus et al.

Other Recommended Reading:

  • Andrewes, A., (1956) The Greek Tyrants (London).  
  • Berve, H., (1967) Die Tyrannis bei den Griechen (2 vols., continuous pagination, Munich).  
  • Jeffery, L.H., (1976) Archaic Greece (London)  
  • Lavelle, B.M., (2004) Fame, Money and Power. The rise of Peisistratos and Democratic Tyranny at Athens (Ann Arbor)  
  • Lewis. S. ed., (2006) Ancient Tyranny (Edinburgh) 
  • Lewis. S. (2009) Greek Tyranny (Bristol) 
  • McGlew, J., (1993) Tyranny and Political Culture in Archaic Greece (Ithaca)  
  • Murray, O., (1980) Early Greece (Glasgow)  
  • Morgan, K., (2003). Popular Tyranny. Austin.  
  • Mossé, C., La Tyrannie dans la Grèce antique (Paris)  
  • Ogden, D., (1997). The Crooked Kings of Ancient Greece. London.  
  • Sancisi-Weerdenberg, H. ed., (2000). Peisistratos and the Tyranny: A Reappraisal of the Evidence. Amsterdam.  
  • Waters, K.H., (1971) Herodotus on Tyrants and Despots Historia Einzelschrift 15 (Wiesbaden). 

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Ancient, Tyranny