Ancient Sources (Written Evidence): Greek Historiography to the end of the Fifth Century BC (CLA1302)

StaffProfessor Lynette Mitchell - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module provides an introduction into the development of Greek historiography  and focuses on Herodotus, Thucydides,  Xenophon and Arrian. Its aim is to acquaint students with the general features of these historians, in relation to the history and literature of the Greek world. They will engage in in-depth thinking into central issues of ancient historiography in general like the establishment of truth, the role of authority, the art of story-telling, the construction of outsiders and of the past. Students will learn how to analyse, evaluate and use texts, and how to relate their style and content to the wider context of literary developments , and to analyse and evaluate the place of these texts within the Greek historiographical tradition.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Describe and evaluate the basic features of the histories of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon and Arrian, and compare these historians with one another
  • 2. Come to an informed appreciation of the esthetical and intellectual qualities of these works
  • 3. Have acquired a basic understanding of the course of Greek historiography

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. With guidance, be able to use, analyse and evaluate ancient texts and how they relate to other sources and their socio-historical context
  • 5. With guidance, develop advanced academic and library skills as well as a critical ability in assessing published literature
  • 6. Become acquainted with the main modern approaches in analysing ancient texts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Demonstrate independent and group study skills in research and presentation of findings
  • 8. Be able to select and organise relevant material and to present a strong argument in coherent oral and written form, and to discuss issues in a peer group
  • 9. Learn to manage their own time and meet deadlines

Syllabus plan

Detailed analysis of the following authors: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Arrian.

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 teaching activities2211 x 2 hour lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching activities55 x 1 hour seminars
Guided independent study123Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Class report on sources and discussions / presentations10 mins per class1-9Verbal feedback

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 assignment302000 words1-9Mark and written comments
Exam702 hours1-9Mark and written comments

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-9August ref/def period
ExamExam1-9August ref/def period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Set texts (indicative)

Herodotus, The Histories (transl. R. Waterfield), Oxford University Press (World's Classics), Oxford, 1998.

Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War (transl. M. Hammond), Oxford University Press (World’s Classics), 2009.

Xenophon, Hellenica: History of My Times, (transl. R. Warner), Penguin, London, 1972.

Xenophon, The Expedition of Cyrus (transl. R. Waterfield), Oxford University Press (World’s Classics), 2005.

Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander (transl. A. de Sélincourt), Penguin, London, 1971.

Other Recommended Reading:

T.J. Luce, The Greek historians, Routledge, London, 1997.

J. Marincola, Authority and tradition in ancient historiography, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004.

S. Hornblower, Thucydides, Duckworth, London, 1994. J.S. Romm, Herodotus, Yale University press, New Haven & London, 1999.

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Key words search

Classics, Greek, Historiography, Ancient, Sources