School of Humanities

Honours seminars 2011

There are several honours seminars in 2011.

  1. Ancient history
  2. Greek

Ancient History

Semester 1

Numismatics

The course consists of 11 sessions, which will introduce students to the history of Greek and Roman coinage, and to the terminology and techniques of numismatics. A twelfth session will be presentations of special topics by students.

Semester 2

Democracy on display: an introduction to Greek epigraphy

Inscriptions are arguably one of the most valuable sources of information about the ancient world, but they are often under-utilised in comparison with the ancient literary sources.

This unit offers an exploration of the basics of Greek inscriptions from epigraphic, historical and theoretical perspectives. An engagement with some general questions--such as the socio-political significance of inscriptional display, and the 'reading' of monumental inscriptions by their ancient audiences--will be complemented by close study of select key inscriptions from fifth- and fourth-century Athens.

Recommended reading: a good basic guide to matters Greek and epigraphical is A G Woodhead’s The study of Greek inscriptions (2nd ed., Oklahoma series in classical culture v. 16., Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992)

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Greek

Semester 1

Aristophanes' Frogs

Aristophanes' comedy Frogs is one of the greatest plays ever written. First performed in the shadow of Athens' imminent defeat in the Peloponnesian war, the work is both an elegy for the city's lost power and a celebration of her unique literary achievement. The comedy's contest between Aeschylus and Euripides is the first surviving extended piece of literary criticism from the ancient world, carried out with all the slapstick, vulgarity and intellectual acuity which are the hallmarks of the master of Old Comedy. We will read the play in Dover's edition (Oxford 1993).

Semester 2

Thucydides 6-7: The Sicilian Expedition

'This event proved to be the greatest of all that had happened in the course of this war, and, as it seems to me, of all Hellenic events of which we have record--for the victors most splendid, for the vanquished most disastrous'.

This is Thucydides' evaluation of the ill-fated Sicilian expedition, where 'land-force and fleet and everything perished, and few out of many returned home' (7.87.5-6).

In this seminar, students read selections from Thucydides Books 6-7. We explore what the account suggests about Thucydides' views and methods of historiography. The seminars will investigate how Thucydides' version of events coheres with wider aspects of his account of the Peloponnesian War and how it relates to other Greek literature. Students will develop competence in independent translation and interpretation of ancient texts, particularly Greek historiography.

Text and Commentaries (available in the Reid Library):

  • K.J. Dover, Thucydides Book VI (Oxford 1965 = Bristol 2002)
  • K.J. Dover, Thucydides Book VII (Oxford 1979).
  • S. Hornblower, A Commentary on Thucydides: Volume 3. Books 5.25-8.109 (Oxford 2008).

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