Skip to main content

Unit information: Myth and History in Fifth-Century Athens in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Myth and History in Fifth-Century Athens
Unit code CLAS37014
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Lampe
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

None,

Co-requisites

None

School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description

Myth and history are often seen as competing ways of looking at the past, yet when one takes a closer look it is clear that history is shot through and through with myth, and vice-versa. This is as true of fifth-century Athens as it is of any other time, but the dynamic tension between myth and history is of particular interest in this period because this is when the concepts themselves were first being articulated and fought over. In this unit we will study some key events of the fifth century BC, particularly the Persian Wars, in order better to understand the events themselves and their treatment in both myth and historiography, and the implications of this process for our own understanding of the past. We will also look at some key ideological texts of the Peloponnesian War, and consider the Athenians' conception of their remote prehistory as revealed in myths, religious festivals, and monuments such as the Parthenon frieze.

The aims of this unit are to:

  • develop understanding of theoretical issues relating to the discourses of myth and history, and their interrelation
  • enable students to acquire detailed knowledge of some key events of the fifth century BC
  • develop skills in reading and analysing ancient texts and images
  • develop and refine skills in constructing coherent, relevant and sophisticated critical arguments, and in relating readings of texts and images to wider theoretical issues
  • develop and enhance skills in oral and written communication

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students should have:

  • developed a sophisticated understanding of theoretical issues relating to the discourses of myth and history, and their interrelation
  • acquired detailed knowledge of some key events of the fifth century BC
  • developed their skill in reading and analysing ancient texts and images
  • developed and refined their skills in constructing coherent, relevant and sophisticated critical arguments, and in relating their readings of texts and images to wider theoretical issues
  • developed and enhanced their skills in oral and written communication by contributing to discussion in seminars and producing an essay and a written examination.

Teaching details

3 hours per week (seminars)

Assessment Details

One essay of 3,000 words (50%) and one examination of 2 hours (50%).

Reading and References

Aeschylus, Persians, in Persians and Other Plays, tr. C. Collard (Oxford World’s Classics)

Herodotus, The Histories, tr. A. de Selincourt (Penguin; rev. ed. by J. Marincola)

Euripides, Children of Heracles (in P. Burian, A. Shapiro, edd., Oxford, Greek Tragedy in New Translations, The Complete Euripides vol. 3)

Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, tr. M. Hammond (Oxford World’s Classics)

Pausanias, Description of Greece Book 1, tr. P. Levi (Penguin, vol. 1)

Feedback