Skip to main content

Unit information: Myth and History in Fifth-Century Athens in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Myth and History in Fifth-Century Athens
Unit code CLASM1020
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Momigliano
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

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.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students should have:

(1) developed a sophisticated understanding of theoretical

issues relating to the discourses of myth and history,

and their interrelation

(2) acquired detailed knowledge of some key events of the

fifth century BC

(3) 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.

(4) developed and enhanced their skills in written

communication by producing an essay and a written


Additionally (specific to level M), students will be expected to

(5) display high level skills in evaluating, analysing, synthesising and

(where apt) critiquing images and ideas.

(6) apply existing analytical strategies to new evidence with flexibility

and creativity

• (7)demonstrate the capacity for independent research

Teaching Information


Assessment Information

One essay of 5000 words assessing ILOs 5-7

Reading and References

Reading List: 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)