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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Classical Literature in Translation

Undergraduate Course: Monsters, Murder and Mayhem: Biography in the Ancient World (CLTR10014)

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 will look at biography from the Greek world through to late antiquity in order to reconstruct the lives of prominent Greeks and Romans. We will also attempt to understand the historical circumstances under which these works were written.
Course description This course will look at biography throughout antiquity and the ways in which it reconstructed the lives of prominent individuals. Authors and works to be studied include the Old Testament, Xenophon, Nepos, the Gospels, Suetonius, Plutarch, and the Historia Augusta. Discussion will centre on the question of what constitutes biography, the way in which biography was used by individual authors and what it can reveal about the period in which it was composed.
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)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements It is recommended that students have passed Ancient History 2a, or entry is 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 Classical Literature) 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 an understanding of the ancient genre of biography;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between Greek and Latin biographical and historical writing;
  3. demonstrate an understanding of how the writing of biography reflects the time in which it was written;
  4. demonstrate an understanding of how these writers represented character, either fictional or real;
  5. demonstrate bibliographical research skills to enable students to find independently additional information relating to the study of ancient biography.
Reading List
Burridge, Richard A. (2004) What are the Gospels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography. Grand Rapids.
Chavalas, Mark W. (1997) The Ancient Near East: Historical Sources in Translation. London.
Due, B. (1989) The Cyropaedia. Xenophon's Aims and Methods. Aarhus.
Edwards, M.J. and S. Swain (1997) Portraits: Biographical Representation in the Greek and Latin Literature of the Roman Empire. Oxford.
Duff, T.E. (1999) Plutarch's Lives: Exploring Virtue and Vice. Oxford.
Hägg, Tomas (2012) The Art of Biography in Antiquity. Cambridge.
McGing, B. and J. Mossman (eds) (2006) The Limits of Ancient Biography. Swansea.
Stadter, Philip (2007) 'Biography and history' in J. Marincola (ed.), A Companion to Greek and Roman Historiography. Oxford: 528-40.
Stem, Rex (2012) The Political Biographies of Cornelius Nepos. Ann Arbor.
Syme, R. (1971) Emperors and Biography. Studies in the Historia Augusta. Oxford.
Wallace-Hadrill, A. (1983) Suetonius: the Scholar and his Caesars. New Haven.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements In order for a student from outwith Classics to be enrolled, contact must be made with a Course Secretary on 50 3580/2 in order for approval to be obtained.
KeywordsMonsters Murder / Ancient Biography
Course organiserDr Sandra Bingham
Tel: (0131 6)50 6689
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Stobie
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783
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