Ancient Sources (Written Evidence): Greek Historiography to the End of the Fifth Century BC (CLA2302)

StaffProfessor Lynette Mitchell - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 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, and engage students 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, evaluate and analyse the basic features of the histories of Herodotus, Thucydides,Xenophon and Arrian, and compare these historians with one another
  • 2. Come to an informed, sophisticated and perceptiveappreciation of the esthetical and intellectual qualities of these works
  • 3. Have acquired a good understanding of the course of Greek historiography

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Be able to use, analyse and evaluate ancient texts at a sophisticated level and how they relate to other sources and their socio-historical context
  • 5. Develop advanced academic and library skills as well as a critical ability in assessing published literature
  • 6. Develop a sophisticated understanding of the main modern approaches in analysing ancient texts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Demonstrate high levels of independent and group study skills in research and presentation of findings
  • 8. Be able to select, organise and analyse 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, and 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
Schedules learning and teaching activity22Lectures (11 x 2 hours)
Schedules learning and teaching activity4Seminars (4 x 1 hour)
Guided independent study124Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Class report on sources and discussion / 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
Essay402000 words1-9Mark and written comments
Exam602 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