The people we are going to study in this course, the people of
Greece, were certainly not the most powerful in the ancient world—at
not in political terms. Only for a brief time (under Philip and
were the Greeks even united into a powerful political unit. For most of
their history, the Greeks were at war among themselves. Nevertheless,
the possible exception of the Hebrews, the Greeks are the most
of the ancient peoples in terms of their impact on subsequent
This course will survey Greek history from its beginnings among
Minoans and Mycenaeans through the Hellenistic age.
SCHEDULE OF CLASSES AND READINGS:
Ten Greek Plays in
Contemporary Translation (Levi
Penguin History of Greece (A.R.
8/24 The Minoans and
Mycenaeans (Burn, Ch.2)
8/29 The Iliad (Books I-VI)
8/31 The Iliad (Books
9/5 The Iliad (Books
9/7 Sparta (Burn,
9/12 Athens: Draco to Solon
9/14 Athens: Pisistratos to
Cleisthenes (Burn, Ch.7)
9/19 The Persian Wars (Burn,
9/21 Herodotus (Books I and
9/26 Herodotus (Book VII)
9/28 Herodotus (Book VIII)
******** MIDTERM I ********
10/5 Aeschylus Prometheus
10/10 Aeschylus Agamemnon
10/12 Sophocles Oedipus Rex
10/17 Sophocles Philoctetes
10/19 Euripides Alcestis
********MIDTERM II ********
11/2 The Delian
League/Pericles (Burn, Ch.9-11)
11/4 The Peloponnesian War/Thucydides,
*** Assessment Day: No Class ****
11/9 Thucydides (Books II and III)
11/14 Thucydides (Books IV, V, and
11/16 Greek Philosophy I
11/21 Greek Philosophy II
11/23 *** Thanksgiving Day:
No Class ***
11/28 Spartan and
Theban Hegemony (Burn, Ch.12)
11/30 Philip and
Alexander (Burn, Ch.15)
12/5 The Hellenistic Age and
the Exciting Conclusion to this course!
December 12, 9:45-11:45
Your grade for this class will be based primarily on the basis of your
midterm exam, your final exam, and your blog contributions, each of
which will count approximately 30% when I determine your final grade.
In addition, I will take into account attendance, participation, and
The works we are reading this semester are the most important ever
written in their respective fields, and the ideas discussed in these
books are important and intrinsically interesting. Homer's poems,
the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides, the dialogues of Plato, and
the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides have inspired the
greatest thinkers of each generation for the past 2500 years.
Each generation has attempted to answer the questions raised for us by
the great Greek writers. Now it's the turn of the great thinkers
of Northern. We will look at what the Greeks had to say
about government, about religion, about the meaning and purpose of
life, about the roles of men and women in society, etc. I expect each
student to contribute their thoughts to discussion, and I expect
students to listen carefully to what others have to say and respond
In order to make sure students are prepared for discussion, I will make
available study questions for each assignment. Many of the study
questions are included in this syllabus. Others will be online. Please
read the study questions before starting each reading assignment.
Midterm I--8 ID's, 1 essay
Final--8 ID's, 1 essay
ID's will be selected from the terms put on the board at the beginning
of each class. You will be asked not only to identify the terms,
but also to explain their historical significance. I am impressed
when students can include plenty of detailed information, but I am even
more impressed when students can show how the ID terms relate to
important themes discussed in this class.
Essay questions will deal with major themes discussed in the
lectures. Often, the exam question will be a generalization I
have made in class with the additional word, "comment."
A student who studies hard and does the required reading should have
plenty to say in response to each of these questions. You will be
given 75 minutes for the midterm and two hours for the final
exam. Most students will need the full time to do a good job.
What is a good job? I tell students over and over again that a
good essay consists of a series of good generalizations based on the
exam question and backed up with specific support from the lectures and
the readings. I am particularly impressed when students include
in their essays references to primary source material.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR TAKING EXAMS:
1. Bring a blue book. Make sure there are no pages torn out.
2. Use pen.
3. Don't sit by anyone with whom you studied.
4. Plan on spending the full time writing your exam.
5. Do the ID terms first.
BLOG: On each day scheduled for a discussion of primary sources, I
would like you to add an entry to the class blog, Greek Keyline Blog
(www.greekkeyline2015.blogspot.com). Most often, the assignment
will ask you to pick out a line from the assigned reading and do one of
1. Explain why you think this line is the key to
understanding what the selection is about.
2. Explain why you think this line is the best/most
memorable in the assigned reading.
3. Explain why you think this line is the most
difficult/hard to understand in the passage.
If earlier posters have argued for different lines as either key, best,
or hardest, explain why you think your line is a better choice.
ELECTRONIC DEVICE POLICY:
Please make sure all electronic devices are turned off and put away
before class begins. Cell phones, laptop computers, MP3 players,
and similar devices are all distracting to other students. I do
*not* allow the use of electronic dictionaries during exams.
1. REGISTRATION CONFIRMATION
All students are required to complete Attendance Confirmation and pay
their tuition and fee charges no later than the third day of the
semester. To do this, log in to WebAdvisor, click on "Fall 2015
Attendance Confirmation", and follow the steps indicated. Financial aid
refunds will not be processed until the Attendance Confirmation has
been completed. Failure to pay your bill and complete the Attendance
Confirmation will result in the cancellation of your enrollment.
Contact the Finance Office in the Krikac Administration Building, email
email@example.com, or call 626-2566 with any questions
2. NSU DISABILITY POLICY:
Northern State University recognizes its responsibility for creating an
institutional climate in which students with disabilities can
thrive. If you have any type of disability for which you require
accommodations, please contact the NSU Office of Disability Services
(626-2371, Student Center 217) as soon as possible to discuss your
3. BOARD OF REGENTS ACADEMIC
Under Board of Regents and University policy student academic
performance may be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on
opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards.
Students should be free to take reasoned exception to the data or views
offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of
opinion, but they are responsible for learning the content of any
course of study for which they are enrolled. Students who believe that
an academic evaluation reflects prejudiced or capricious consideration
of student opinions or conduct unrelated to academic standards should
contact the academic dean administratively in charge of the class to
initiate a review of the evaluation.
4. ACADEMIC INTEGRITY STATEMENT:
Cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty and misconduct run
contrary to the purposes of higher education. Cheating
includes the use of any notes during the midterm or final exam.
Please place no marks of any kind on or in your blue book before I give
the signal to begin taking the exam. All exams must be taken on
blank bluebooks. On at least one exam, bluebooks will be checked
before the exam. Bluebooks that have not been checked, have
missing pages, or pages with large erasures will not be accepted.
It is not cheating to study with another student, to share notes, or to
prepare essays or ID's together. However, if you do study with another
student, be sure you do not sit next to each other during the exam.
Please be especially careful to observe academic integrity standards on
the take-home quizzes. The quizzes are intended to make sure you have
done the primary source readings, and your comments should be based on
your own observations, not someone else’s ideas. Plagiarism (e.g.
copying material from the internet or recycling work done by another
student) is not allowed. I do sometimes allow “group work” on
quizzes, but unless I have specifically indicated that you are allowed
to work with other students, make sure your quiz comments are entirely
Northern State University's official policy and procedures on cheating
and academic dishonesty as outlined in the Northern State University
Student Handbook applies to this course. Students caught cheating will
receive a zero for the assignment, and, since zeros are worse than F‘s,
they are likely to fail the course as a whole.
STUDY QUESTIONS: THE ILIAD:
Potential essay question:
The poems of Homer are the greatest legacy of the
"dark ages" to subsequent Greek civilization. In some ways, these
books are the closest thing the Greeks had to a Bible. But
Homer's works are a very strange sort of Bible indeed. Comment.
Homer's works were in some ways the closest thing the Greeks had to a
Bible. If one wanted authoritative teaching about the gods and
about their dealings with mankind, one turned to Homer. Passages
culled from the Iliad and the Odyssey served as "proof texts" for any
point one might try to make. Likewise, Homer's writings were also
the starting point for later "inspired" writers--the poets and
playwrights of ancient Greece. But Homer's works are a very
strange sort of Bible, and it's not always easy to say exactly what his
religious views were.
As we read and discuss the Iliad, look for evidence of the greatness of
this poem, for evidence that it was a kind of Bible, and for evidence
that it was a strange sort of Bible. You might note especially
Homer's insights into the behavior and motivation of human
beings. You might also note what Homer has to say about such
1. How to deal with anger
2. How women should be treated
3. The behavior of the ideal man
4. The behavior of the ideal woman
5. How one should face misfortune
6. How one should conduct oneself toward the gods
Please read Books I-VI of the Iliad. Be prepared to discuss the
1. The Iliad is not story of Trojan War. What
is it about?
2. Why is Achilles angry?
3. Who is right in quarrel, Agamenon or Achilles?
4. Given that Achilles is right to be angry, does he
conduct himself properly? What are the consequences of his anger?
5. What about the girls (Briseis and Criseis)?
What would it be like to be a prize of war? What would it be like
to live in a society where one might easily become a prize of
war? Are women valued in this society? Are they
loved? What does Homer teach about proper conduct toward women?
6. What standards does Homer seem to expect of
women? How does an ideal woman behave?
7. To what extent are the goddesses role models for
mortal women? Can/should a mortal woman aspire to be like Hera,
Thetis, Aphrodite or Athena?
8. To what extent is the position of women in
American society like the position of women in Homeric society?
Do Homer's own standards seem at all applicable today?
9. What are Homer's gods like? How are they
different from the God of the Bible and from the gods of other
religions? To what extent are the gods role models for mankind?
10. Is Homer a religious man? Does he believe
the gods exist? How does he think one should behave towards the gods?
11. Do the gods exist? Is there a Zeus, and
12. Which of the characters introduced so far seems
to you the most admirable? Why? What qualities does Homer
seem to think most admirable?
13. Which character seems to you least
admirable? Why? What qualities does Homer seem to think
14. How are the Greeks and Trojans governed?
What does Homer teach about proper relationship to authority, and
proper use of authority?
Please read as much as you can of Books VII-XVII. If you like, you may
skim over the descriptions of the actual fighting. These scenes are
exciting, but not essential to our discussion. Please read
especially closely Books 9,14,15, and 16. Be prepared to continue
discussion of the earlier study questions and to discuss the following:
1. Why does Achilles refuse Agamemnon's offer in chapter
IX? Is he right to refuse? Would Agamemnon have done better
to go to Achilles himself rather than sending Odysseus and Phoenix?
2. How do you explain Homer's description of Zeus and Hera in
chapter XIV? Does he really think this is the way gods interact
with one another?
3. Note Zeus' complaint about "fate." What is "fate"?
Is there such a thing governing the affairs of men and gods? Is
fate superior to Zeus, or Zeus to fate? Why does Zeus fail
to save Sarpedon from death?
Please finish reading the Iliad (Books XVIII-XXIV). The final
pages are crucial to understanding the work as a whole, and there's not
much here that can be skipped. Be prepared to discuss the
1. Why does Achilles ignore his mother's plea that he
not return to battle?
2. How do you explain Briseis' reaction to Patroclus'
death (p. 361)? Is Briseis a typical captive?
3. Note how Achilles and Hector encourage their
men. Which seems the more admirable leader? Why?
4. Why does Hector choose to stand against Achilles
rather that retreat? Is he right to make this choice?
5. Why does Homer end the epic where he does rather
than continuing the story to the fall of Troy or at least to the death
of Achilles? How do the surrender of Hector's body and the
funeral for Hector form and appropriate conclusion of the work?
6. How does Homer view death? What consolation
does he have to offer the man who faces death before his time?
STUDY QUESTIONS: HERODOTUS
We will concentrate on Books I and II for our first discussion; Book
VII for our second discussion; and Book VIII for or third
discussion. The following passages will be especially important
to our discussion.
Book I (all, note especially sections 1-14)
Book II (skim all, note especially sections 10-27, 11, 123-131, 160,
Book III (section 80)
Book VII (skim all, note especially sections 10-20, 28, 35, 51, 61,
Book VIII (skim all, note especially sections 50-103)
Book IX (sections 100-122)
As you read, please think about the following questions:
1. How would you compare Herodotus' worldview with
that of Homer? In what ways is his history like the Iliad? In
what ways is it different?
2. What are Herodotus' religious views? How do
these views affect his history? Do they make him more
reliable/less reliable? Do they influence his selection of
events? His interpretation of events?
3. What is Herodotus' attitude toward war?
4. What does Herodotus mean by freedom?
5. What form of government does Herodotus think best?
6. What characteristics does he admire most in
men? What characteristics does he think particularly despicable?
7. What can you gather from Herodotus' history about
the role of women in Greek society? What does Herodotus' own
attitude seem to be?
1. What is Herodotus' purpose in writing his history? What
audience does he seem to have in mind? Does he have some
particular lesson/lessons to teach?
2. What are Herodotus' strengths as a historian? What are
3. What parts of the history seem most reliable?
4. What parts of history seem least reliable?
5. Why does it take him six books before he begins to describe
the Persian War itself?
THUCYDIDES STUDY QUESTIONS
If Herodotus is properly considered the father of history, to
Thucydides should probably go an equally distinguished title, the
father of political science. He perhaps deserves and additional
title as well: the father of scientific history, though whether his
history is really more "scientific" than that of Herodotus is a
Thucydides addresses political questions on both the "macro" and
"micro" level. He takes on the big questions (What is the best
form of government? What causes war? What justifies
revolution?), but he addresses these questions by looking at specific
individuals in specific situations--"political philosophy teaching by
I would like you to read all of Thucydides' history (and all the
dialogues of Plato, all thirty two extant Greek tragedies, and all the
plays of Aristophanes). For this course, however, you should skim
all of Book I and read carefully the following selections from the rest
of the history.
II: 34-46 Pericles' Funeral Oration
II: 46-57 The Plague in Athens
II: 57--65 Pericles' justification of his
III: 1-85 The revolt of Mytilene, the
treatment of Platea, the revolution in Corcyra (skim)
IV: 42-48 End of the Corcyra revolution
V: 18-20 Peace of Nicias
V: 84-116 Melian Dialogue
V: 77-79 Treaty of peace between Athens and
VI: 89-93 Alcibiades justifies himself
1. What is Thucydides purpose in writing this history?
2. What are his strengths as a historian? What
are his weaknesses? Is he a "scientific" historian? How is
he like modern historians? How different? How does he compare to
Herodotus as a historian? Better? Worse?
3. What does Thucydides think the ideal form of
4. What makes a man admirable in his eyes? What
characteristics does he dislike? What does he think are the
characteristics of a good leader?
QUESTIONS ON BOOK I:
1. What do you think of Thucydides' treatment of
early Greek history? What sources does he use? Could he
have done a better job treating this period?
2. How does Thucydides explain the outbreak of the
Pelponnesian War? Do you think his explanation a good one?
3. What do you think of the technique of invented
speeches? Is this a legitimate device for a historian to
4. Where do Thucydides' sympathies seem to lie?
Is he pro-Athenian, pro-Spartan or what?
1. What do you think of Thucydides' account of the
effects of the plague on Athenian character? Is this "scientific"
2. How does thucydides' treatment of the plague
differ from the way Herodotus (or Homer) would have handled it?
THE MYTILENE DEBATE:
1. Did the people of Mytilene have a right to revolt?
2. Did the Athenians have a right to put down the revolt?
3. How should the Athenians have treated Mytilene?
4. Is there any strength to Cleon's argument (37-40)?
5. How does Cleon account for the Athenian change of heart?
6. Is this a problem in democracy?
7. What is Cleon's idea of justice?
8. How does Diodotus defend the orators?
9. How does he defend the people of Mytilene?
10. How does the Spartan treatment of Plataea compare to the
Athenian treatment of Mytilene?
THE MELIAN DEBATE:
1. Why is the debate not open to the general public?
2. What is the Athenians justification for requiring Melos to
join their alliance?
3. Are the Melesian officials right in refusing to submit to
4. How do they hope to withstand the Athenians?
5. Are the Athenians right in saying their hopes are misplaced?
6. Should justice and fair play be considerations in
7. Why do you suppose Thucydides didn't finish his history?