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 contemporary culture.
You'll begin with the overall geography and history of the classical world to gain a framework in which you can situate the individual cultures and periods that you'll 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 run through history, as you'll 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 the following six sections:
This 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 Early Greek World
This block focuses on early Greek culture and society by looking at literary texts and material evidence from the period from around 800 to 500 BCE. You'll explore the epics that relate to the stories of the Trojan War, which are attributed to the poet Homer – the Iliad and the Odyssey – and other poetic texts from this period, as well as material culture exploring themes of heroes, gods, women and people who were not Greeks.
Block 2: Classical Athens
This block explores society and culture within Athens in the fifth century BCE. You will explore four major cultural products of the fifth century BCE: Aeschylus' tragedy, the Persians; the buildings on the Acropolis; Pericles’ Funeral Speech; 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 examines Roman cultural identity starting from Greek settlement in Italy to the expansion of the Roman Republic in Italy, the organisation of the Roman Republic, reputations of members of the Roman elite and the city of Rome. Your work then explores four important figures from Roman history: Spartacus – the leader of a slave revolt; the poet Catullus; the orator Cicero; and the general Julius Caesar.
Block 4: Rome – City and People
This block turns to social history. You'll learn about the population of Rome, how it was organised socially, slavery, family life, and mass entertainment shows in the city of Rome. You'll work closely with ancient sources, including the letters of the Younger Pliny and of Cicero and inscriptions on tombstones.
Block 5: Revision and Retrospection
This block will help you to look back and pull together the threads that run through the module in preparation for the end-of-module assessment, which will be an extended essay.
You will learn
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.