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COURSE NAME: "History of Ancient Greece"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Benedetta Bessi
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 10:00-11:15 AM

This course examines the history of Ancient Greece from the Archaic Age to the Age of Alexander, the seventh through fourth centuries B.C.E. Focus will be on the rise of Athens and Sparta as the most influential city states in Greece; the development of their respective political, military and social systems; and the causes of the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War that paved the way for the rise of Macedon and domination of the Greek world, first under Philip II, and then his son, Alexander the Great, until his death in 323 B.C.E.  Readings in translation will include Herodotus, Aristophanes, Plato, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Plutarch.


Topics included in the course are Bronze Age Greece, The Dark Ages, The Archaic period and the Birth of the Polis, The Rise of Athens and the Birth of Democracy, the Peloponnesian War, the Shift of Hegemonies and the Coming of Macedon, Alexander the Great and the Conquest of Asia.

In addition to this overview of political and social history, we will also discuss aspects of the cultural history of Greece such as religion, family, education, gender etc.

Very important: please note that a museum visit might be included and considered an integral part of the course; in case, students are expected to pay for their entrance fee (around 10 euros).

By the end of the course, students will have learned of the methods and strategies by which key Greek city-states and kingdoms, e.g. Athens, Sparta and Macedon expanded into politically and militarily strong, ethnically diverse and geographically complex powers as well as the reasons for their eventual collapse. Key Skills Taught - Critical analysis of sources - Clearer writing ability - More lucid oral expression - Greater facility in working independently and in teams

group presentation  15%
research paper (2000 words)  20%
midterm exam  25%
final exam  30%
attendance and class participation  10%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

Attendance will be taken at each scheduled class session. Each unjustified absence after the fourth  absence will result in your course grade being lowered by 3 points, e.g. after the second unjustified absence, a cumulative total of 87 would be lowered to an 84, changing one’s grade from a B+ to a B. In the event of justifiable absences, i.e. illness or serious injury, please bring a note from the doctor or the Dean of Student Affairs.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.



Session Focus

Reading Assignment

Other Assignment

Meeting Place/Exam Dates

 Mon Jan 15


Introduction to the course and material.



 Wed Jan 17


The Greek World in the Bronze Age: The Minoan-Mycenean Civilization

Textbook, ch. 1



 Mon Jan 22


The Dark Age of Greece and the Eight Century Renaissance

Textbook, ch. 2



 Wed Jan 24


Archaic Greece

Textbook, ch. 3



 Mon Jan 29



Textbook, ch. 4



 Wed Jan 31


Students presentation: Greek religion and mythology


Material prepared by the students


 Mon Feb 5


The Growth of Athens and the Persian Wars

Textbook, ch. 5



 Wed Feb 7


The Persian Wars

Textbook, ch. 5

Herodotus, Histories, selected passages


 Mon Feb 12

The Growth of Athenian democracy

Textbook ch. 6


 Wed Feb 14


Student Presentation: Greek Art and Architecture

Material prepared by the students



Fri Feb


Make up for April 25




Mon Feb 19


Periclean Athens

Textbook, ch. 5



 Wed Feb 21


Students presentation: Greek War and Warfare

Material prepared by the students



 Mon Feb 26


 review for midterm exam

Ch. 1-6



Wed Feb 28


Midterm exam









 Mon Mar 5

Greece on the Eve of the Peloponnesian War

Textbook, ch. 7



 [U1]Wed Mar 7


Students presentation: The Greek Way of Life

Material prepared by the students




 Mon Mar 12


  Research skills workshop





Mar 14


The Peloponnesian War Part II

Textbook, ch. 8

Thuc., The Peloponnesian War, selected passages



 Mon Mar 19


The Crisis of the Polis and the Age of Shifting

Textbook, ch. 9



Wed Mar 21 

Chicago notes and bibliography workshop

Library material

 Mon Mar 26


Philip II and the Rise of Macedon

Texbook, ch. 10



 Wed Mar 28

Students presentation: Greek Economy

Material prepared by the students


Mon Apr 2

Spring break




Wed Apr 4

Spring break




 Mon Apr 9


Alexander the Great

Textbook, ch. 11


 Wed Apr 11


 Alexander by O. Stone

Plutarch, Life of Alexander



Mon Apr 16

 Alexander's Successors and the Cosmopolis

Textbook, ch 12



 Wed Apr 18

Epilogue: the Hellenistic World and the Coming of Rome-

 Textbook, Epilogue



 Mon Apr 24


 Wrap up session and review