Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Ancient History

Undergraduate Course: Labour, Wealth, and Inequality: The Economy of the Classical Greek City-States (ANHI10090)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryUnderlying the most notable cultural achievements of the ancient Greeks was a dynamic economy that connected Greek communities to the wider Mediterranean world and provided the wealth and leisure on which developments in literature, philosophy, science, and art were built. This course will introduce students to the main features of this economy and its structure, studying various forms of production, exchange, and service, within the framework of the city-state.
Course description This course will focus on the economy of the Greek city-states during the classical period (5th and 4th c BC). Starting from the economic organisation of the household and the cultivation of the countryside, it will expand its focus to non-agricultural occupations in the urban sphere and then to the networks of trade that connected the city-states, allowing the movement of a vast range of commodities. The focus on the democratic city-state and its institutions will allow students to grasp how economic activities were both enabled and constrained in order that the economy might flourish, yet without its benefits being distributed in a way contrary to the political ideals of the city-state. Political institutions in democratic cities targeted the predatory, rent-seeking activities of the elite that had been characteristic of the archaic era, and tried to retool the relationship between the people and its leaders by creating a symbiotic relationship where support of the citizenry and its recognition of the legitimacy of elite domination of major magistracies (e.g. the generalship) was paid for by onerous taxation.

Whereas political institutions in democratic cities such as Athens constrained the mushrooming of economic inequality within the citizen body, the same was not true outwith the citizen body: by studying the institution of slavery, students will see how classical Greek society was parasitic upon a large population of imported foreign slaves, who performed the least pleasant tasks in the economy. The course will also go beyond democratic city-states such as Athens, looking at case studies (Sparta, Crete, Rhodes and so forth) that developed in different directions, underscoring the diversity of economic formations in the world of the city-states.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements The course is available to all students who have progressed to Honours.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics, History or Archaeology (at least 1 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.

**as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
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 a sound knowledge of the Classical Greek economy and key issues considered in the course.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to assimilate a variety of primary sources, both written and visual, compare them, and formulate critical opinions on them.
  3. Make informed contributions to class discussion.
  4. Read, analyse, contextualise, and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship.
  5. Develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence.
Reading List
Bresson, A. (2016) The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy: Institutions, Markets, and Growth in the City-States. Princeton, NJ, and Oxford.

Casson, L. (1971) Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World. Princeton.

Gallego, J. (2007) 'Farming in the ancient Greek world: how should the small free producers be defined?' Studia Humaniora Taurensia vol. 8: 1-21.

Brock, R. (1994) 'The labour of women in classical Athens' Classical Quarterly 44.2: 336-46.

Gabrielsen, V. (2017) 'Financial, human, material and economic resources required to build and operate navies in the classical world' in De Souza, P., Arnaud, P. & C. Buchet (Eds.) The Sea in History: The Ancient World. Suffolk & Rochester: 426-442.

Harris, E.M. (2002) 'Workshop, marketplace and household: The nature of technical specialisation in classical Athens and its influence on economy and society' In Cartledge, P.A, Cohen, E.E. and L. Foxhall (eds.) Money, Labour, and Land: Approaches to the Economies of Ancient Greece. London: 67-99.

Harris, E.M. and D.M. Lewis (2015) 'Introduction' in Harris, E.M., Lewis, D.M. & M. Woolmer (eds.) The Ancient Greek Economy: Markets, Households and City-States. Cambridge and New York: 1-37.

Hansen, M.H. (2006) Polis: An Introduction to the Ancient Greek City-State. Oxford.

Hasaki, E. (2012) 'Workshops and technology' in Smith, T.J. & D. Plantzos (eds.) A Companion to Greek Art. Oxford and Malden, MA: 255-72.

Kron, Geof. 2011. 'The distribution of wealth at Athens in comparative perspective.' Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik vol. 179: 129-138.

Osborne, Robin. 1995. 'The economics and politics of slavery at Athens.' In The Greek World, edited by Anton Powell. (London: 27-43).

Spantidaki, S. (2016) Textile Production in Classical Athens. Oxford: Oxbow.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr David Lewis
Tel: (0131 6)50 3851
Course secretaryMrs Ksenia Gorlatova
Tel: (0131 6)50 8349
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information