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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Ancient History

Undergraduate Course: Political Thought and Practice in the Greek City (ANHI10060)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course enables students to study the dynamic and influential political ideas and debates of Classical Greece. Students study Greek thinking and disagreements about (for example) democracy, citizenship, justice, equality, virtue and education. The writings and ideas of leading intellectuals, such as Plato and Aristotle, are placed in the context of broader Classical Greek political debates and activities.
Course description This course considers the wide range of ideas about politics which were advocated and debated by citizens of Classical Greek cities. It fits together well with other courses on Greek history, on Greek philosophy or on the cultural, political and intellectual history of other periods, ancient and modern. It should appeal especially to students interested in ideas and political discussions, and their history. The course seeks to examine the connections in different directions between Greek political thinking at different levels and in different contexts: for example, philosophical discussions, assembly debates, the law-courts, the theatre and the family. It pursues this aim by giving students the chance to study the political philosophies of leading intellectuals, especially Plato and Aristotle, alongside the evidence for political ideas, assumptions and practices in speeches, historical works, poetry and inscriptions, including both inscribed public decisions and inscribed private monuments. These sources are examined as evidence for multiple, competing ideas of justice, equality, freedom, virtue, community, friendship, education and utopia. The overall aim is to allow students to develop a complex, dynamic picture of debates and disagreements about the nature of the good city and the good citizen in Classical Greece. The focus is on Classical Athens, but other cities feature where evidence permits. Most of the classes will address a particular theme or themes and compare and contrast what Greek philosophers, orators, historians, poets and other citizens said or implied about it or them, looking for signs of debate and disagreement. Topics normally covered include: philosophy and the Greek city; Greek utopias; public life and private life; the individual and the community; justice; democracy and oligarchy; wealth, property and honours; education, culture and rhetoric; political unrest and political change; outsiders in the city; cosmopolitanism.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Ancient History 2a: Past and Present in the Ancient World (ANHI08014) AND Ancient History 2b: Themes and Theories in Ancient History (ANHI08013)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Passes in Ancient History 2A and Ancient History 2B are recommended, or at the Course Organiser's discretion.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics related subject matter(at least 2 of which should be in Ancient History) at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of a variety of important evidence for the study of Greek political thought and practice, and the problems and opportunities this evidence presents for the historian;
  2. demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the different possible relationships between political thinking at different levels, especially high theory and practical political rhetoric, and the difficulties in studying and interpreting them in relation to ancient Greece or any other society;
  3. demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of more general questions about the role of ideas in politics, including the role of ancient ideas in modern as well as ancient politics, and possible answers to them;
  4. show skill and expertise in undertaking independent research in ancient sources and modern works, and analysing independently the wide-ranging information relating to the study of Greek political thought and practice found in them;
  5. demonstrate the ability to reflect in a critical way about ancient Greek and modern political assumptions and ideas, and their foundations, through independent reflection and through participation in class debates.
Reading List
Ancient works:
Plato Republic.
Aristotle Politics.

Key modern works:
Allen, D.S. (2010), Why Plato Wrote (Malden and Oxford).
Balot, R.K. (2006), Greek Political Thought (Malden and Oxford).
Balot, R.K. (ed.) (2009), A Companion to Greek and Roman Political Thought (Malden and Oxford).
Beck, K. (ed.) (2013), A Companion to Ancient Greek Government (Malden and Oxford).
Robinson, E.W. (2004), Ancient Greek Democracy: Readings and Sources (Malden).
Cartledge, P. (2009), Ancient Greek Political Thought in Practice (Cambridge).
Kraut, R. (2002), Aristotle: Political Philosophy (Oxford).
Loraux, N. (1986), The Invention of Athens: the Funeral Oration in the Classical City (Cambridge, Mass.).
Ober, J. (1999), Political Dissent in Democratic Athens: Intellectual Critics of Popular Rule (Princeton).
Rowe, C., and Schofield, M. (2000), The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought (Cambridge).
Schofield, M. (2006), Plato: Political Philosophy (Oxford).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills In addition to the intended learning outcomes described above, students will also demonstrate a number of transferable skills, such as

* the ability to read large quantities of text and to identify the most important passages and arguments;
* general analytical skills;
* written and verbal communication skills;
* oral presentation and discussion skills.
KeywordsPolitical Thought / Ancient Greece
Course organiserDr Benjamin Gray
Course secretaryMs Elaine Hutchison
Tel: (0131 6)50 3582
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