What you will study
The civilisations of classical Greece and Rome are in many respects far removed from our own, but are nevertheless highly relevant to modern western culture.
This broad introduction to the classical world begins with an introduction to the overall geography and history of the era. This will give you a framework in which you can situate the individual cultures and periods that you will study in this module. It will also provide background knowledge for further modules in classical studies that you may wish to take in the future.
After this introduction, the module is organised historically, allowing you to study a range of different topics in chronological order, moving from Greece to Rome. However, it isn't simply a survey module, as you will engage, in depth, with a selection of particularly interesting aspects of the classical world. The common theme running throughout the module is an exploration of what made different places and times culturally distinctive, and how we can try to understand them so many years later. The module is divided into six sections.
Introduction The introduction has two main aims. It will help you think about the methods that we can use to study the classical world, and introduce you to the sources at our disposal. It will also let you familiarise yourself with key features of Greek and Roman geography and history.
Block 1 Homer and the Greek Dark Age This block focuses on one of the earliest periods of classical history, the time of the Greek epic poets, especially Homer. Aspects of both the Iliad and the Odyssey are studied at some length, building up to a picture of Homeric society and artistry. A close look at vases will add a further dimension to your understanding of the period.
Block 2: Classical Athens This block looks at Athens in the fifth century BCE. You will study four sources: Aeschylus' tragedy, the Persians; arts and buildings on the Acropolis; oratory; and Aristophanes' comedy Lysistrata. These sources have a shared focus: the Athenians' understanding of their own identity as Athenians.
Block 3: The Roman Republic This block starts with an introduction to the second half of the module, linking the Greek world studied in Blocks 1 and 2 with the study of cultural developments in Italy. This starts with the experience and physical remains of Greek colonisation of southern Italy. The central part of the block investigates politics and power in the city of Rome in the Republican period. A concluding section considers how the various kinds of literature produced at the time contribute to a distinctive Roman culture.
Block 4: Rome – City and People This block turns to social history. You will learn about the population of Rome, how it was organised socially and what daily and family life in Rome was like. Your main sources will include the letters of Pliny the Younger and of Cicero, the philosophy of Seneca and inscriptions on tombstones.
Block 5: Revision and Retrospection This block introduces a small amount of new material. It will help you to look back and pull together the threads which run through the module. It also serves as a preparation for the end-of-module examination.
As you go through the module, you will:
- acquire a broad knowledge of the political, social and cultural history as well as the geography of the classical world
- acquire a broad knowledge and understanding of the various disciplines that make up classical studies, and develop your ability to practise the methods of enquiry used by these disciplines
- develop your ability to examine critically different kinds of ancient material and modern interpretations of this material
- develop skills to communicate your knowledge and understanding in an appropriately scholarly manner.
In addition to the printed material you will use other media. You will regularly use audio CDs, and sometimes do exercises incorporating these CDs. You will also regularly use DVDs; these DVDs have simple intuitive navigation menus comparable to those of standard commercial DVDs of feature films. Finally, you will occasionally use a networked computer. The vast majority of the teaching relies on the printed materials, audio CDs and DVDs, but at times, the module will direct you to external websites (to look at images of ancient art, for instance). It also provides its own user-friendly website, including maps and timelines of the ancient world, and an audio pronunciation guide of ancient names. The use of all these materials is straightforward and carefully introduced in the module.