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

StaffProfessor Lynette Mitchell - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
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 you with the general features of these historians, in relation to the history and literature of the Greek world. You 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. You 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

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

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 teaching2211 x 2 hour lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching55 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 minutes 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
Examination702 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
EssayEssay1-9Referral/Deferral period
ExaminationExamination1-9Referral/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

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