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Unit information: Greek Language Level D in 2015/16

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Unit name Greek Language Level D
Unit code CLASM0032
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Lampe
Open unit status Not open




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


In this unit we’ll be appreciating the extraordinary poetry of two contemporary authors, Pindar and Aeschylus. In particular, we will focus on their representations of the myth of Orestes and Clytemnestra in Pythian 11 and The Libation Bearers. This will give us an opportunity to consider the different ways in which Aeschylus and Pindar appropriate traditional myth in general, and specifically how they deal with the topics raised by this myth, including matriarchy and patriarchy, initiation and coming of age, justice and the rule of law, and violence and the sacred. In order to appreciate these themes, we will discuss many aspects of the reception of this mythical cycle.


By the end of this unit, you should have:

  • acquired the ability to discuss with sophistication Pindar’s use of myth in terms of the compositional principles of his brilliant but enigmatic odes;
  • acquired the ability to discuss with sophistication Aeschylus’ use of myth in terms of the religious and performative contexts of Athenian tragedy;
  • acquired the ability to discuss with sophistication how Pindar and Aeschylus develop many themes associated with the Orestes-Clytemnestra myth;
  • learned to scan some tragic and lyric metres, and to use metrical analysis in the service of literary interpretation;
  • had the opportunity to develop your ability in prepared and sight translation of Greek passages;
  • had the opportunity to develop your ability in extemporaneous discussion, research, and formal writing.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students should have:

  • developed their skills in reading, translating and interpreting a Greek/Latin text and in evaluating translations of it;
  • become familiar with current debates about the texts studied, and their historical and cultural significance;
  • developed and refined their skills in constructing coherent, relevant and sophisticated critical arguments, and in relating their readings of the texts to wider theoretical issues;
  • developed and enhanced their skills in oral and written communication by contributing to discussion in seminars, presenting short papers, and producing an essay and a written examination.

Teaching details

Seminars and reading classes. 20 contact hours, 180 hours independent study

Assessment Details

  • 1 essay of 3,000 words (3rd years) or 4,000 words (MAs). Weighted at 50%.
  • 1 examination of one and a half hours consisting of a passage of 10 lines for unseen translation (20% of exam mark) without passage summary, a passage of 15 lines for prepared text translation (20% of exam mark), and 2 passages (choose from 4) of 20-25 lines for comment and analysis (60% of exam mark): no specific questions (students asked merely to “comment”). Weighted at 50%.

1 essay of approximately 4000 words in length (50%), and

  • 1 90-minute examination containing sight translation, set text translation, and passages of set text for comment (50%).

Reading and References

Aeschylus, Choephori. Ed. A. F. Garvie. Clarendon, 1988. (Garvie will be most useful for appreciating Choephori as a literary and historical text, but if you need to economize, you may purchase the Bristol Classical Press edition of A. Bowen.)

Pindar, Pythian 11 (A text and commentary will be provided to you.)

Lloyd, Michael, ed. 2007. Aeschylus. Oxford.

Kurke, L. 1991. The Traffic in Praise: Pindar and the Poetics of Social Economy. Princeton.

Finley, J. 1966. Pindar and Aeschylus. Cambridge, Mass.