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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

  • To acquaint you with the general features of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon and Arrian, in relation to the history and literature of the Greek world.
  • To 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.
  • To teach you how to analyse, evaluate and use texts, and how to relate their style and content to the wider context of literary developments.
  • 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. Demonstrate an informed appreciation of the aesthetic and intellectual qualities of these works
  • 3. Demonstrate a basic understanding of the course of Greek historiography

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. With guidance, use, analyse and evaluate ancient texts, understanding how they relate to other sources and their socio-historical context
  • 5. Demonstrate academic and library skills specific to Classics and Ancient History, as well as a critical ability in assessing classical scholarship
  • 6. Demonstrate familiarity with the main modern approaches to analysing ancient texts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Demonstrate independent and group study skills in research and the presentation of findings
  • 8. Select and organise relevant material and present a coherent argument
  • 9. 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:

  • 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 assignment602000 words1-9Mark and written comments
Gobbet test401 hour1-9Mark 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
Gobbet testGobbet Test1-9Referral/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:

  • Marincola, J. ed. A companion to Greek and Roman historiography, Blackwell, Oxford, 2007.
  • Marincola, J. Authority and tradition in ancient historiography, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004.
  • Hornblower, S. Thucydides, Duckworth, London, 1994.
  • Romm, J.S. Herodotus, Yale University press, New Haven & London, 1999.

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Key words search

Classics, Greek, Historiography, Ancient, Sources