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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Honour in Ancient Greece (PGHC11584)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is an introduction to the concept of honour (time) in Archaic and Classical Greece, and of its centrality in defining all kinds of social and political relations. The sequential analysis of the domains where honour was central will tackle notions of dignity, recognition, respect and subjective rights, honours for benefactors (euergetism) and for various subaltern categories (women, slaves). Finally, the course shall discuss pathological social phenomena connected to honour dynamics, such as hybris, atimia.
Course description Everyone acknowledges that 'honour' is central to the societies and norms that assume centre stage in the greatest works of classical Greek literature and thought. Yet the concept -- both in its nature and in its pervasiveness in Greek society -- is often poorly understood. And this matters, because its ramifications are very wide indeed: from the quarrel that animates the plot of Europe's earliest work of literature to the motivations of tragic characters both male and female, major and minor, honour is at the heart of a complex of ethical values whose understanding is indispensable to the interpretation of Greek literature and thought. It underpins the self-assertion of heroes, but also the control that communities exert on heroic self-assertion. Such themes recur in myriad variations in a variety of contexts because honour is the central concept of Greek social and political life, from the society depicted in the Homeric poems, via the archaic societies that received those poems, to the developed democracy of classical Athens. From the Iliad to Athenian law, oratory, and politics 'honour' is inextricably linked not only with the pursuit of prestige in competition with others, but also with justice, self-control, and the interests of the community. In Homer, Sophocles, Aristotle, and the Attic orators not only does the notion of honour presuppose an implicit conception of rights, but terms linked to that notion can be explicitly used to articulate such a concept. Honour is the driving force in ancient Greek social interaction, in the norms and values that are expressed in relationships at both interpersonal and civic levels, and in the institutions that bind individuals to their communities. This is a history that starts with literary sources but which reaches deep into ancient Greek society. It is the history that this course aims to explore.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Honour in Ancient Greece (Online) (PGHC11585)
Other requirements Students should usually have at least 2 courses in Classics, Ancient History or Classical Archaeology at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics, Ancient History or Classical Archaeology 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
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  15
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
5,000 word essay (100%)
Feedback Students are expected to discuss their coursework with the Course Organiser at least once prior to submission, and are encouraged to do so more often. The Course Organiser will provide feedback on an essay plan prior to submission of the final essay. Meetings can take place with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment. Students will also receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Display a sound knowledge of ancient Greek honour -- of the key terms, discourses and historical phenomena considered in the course.
  2. Assimilate a variety of ancient sources (literary, epigraphical, philosophic), compare them, and formulate critical opinions on them.
  3. Display an understanding of modern theories of respect, recognition, and subjective rights.
  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
Blok, J. (2017), Citizenship in Classical Athens. Cambridge.

Cairns, D. L. (1993). Aidos: The Psychology and Ethics of Honour and Shame in Ancient Greek Literature. Oxford.

Cairns, D. L. (2011). 'Honour and Shame: Modern Controversies and Ancient Values', Critical Quarterly, 53: 23-41.

Cairns, D.L. (2019). 'Honour and Kingship in Herodotus: Status, Role, and the Limits of Self-Assertion', Frontiers of Philosophy in China 14.1: 75-93.

Cairns, D.L., Canevaro, M. and Mantzouranis, K. (2022). 'Recognition and Redistribution in Aristotle's Account of Stasis', Polis 39.1: 1-34.

Canevaro, M. (2018), 'The Graphe Hybreos against Slaves: The Time of the Victim and that of the Hybristes', JHS 138: 100-26.

Canevaro, M. and Rocchi, L. (2023), 'Greek subjective rights? Justice, legal discourse, and legal institutions', in C. Ando, M. Canevaro and B. Straumann (eds), Cambridge History of Rights. Vol. 1: The Ancient World. Cambridge.

Domingo Gygax, M. (2016). Benefaction and Rewards in the Ancient Greek City. The Origins of Euergetism. Cambridge.

Liddel, P. (2019), Decrees of Fourth-Century Athens (403/2-322/1 BC). Vol. 1: The Literary Evidence; Vol. 2: Political and Cultural Perspectives. Cambridge.

Ma, J. (2013). Stautes and Cities. Honoric Portraits and Civic Identity in the Hellenistic World. Oxford.

Scodel, R. (2008). Epic Facework: Self-Presentation and Social Interaction in Homer. Swansea.

Van Wees, H. (1992). Status Warriors: War, Violence and Society in Homer and History. Amsterdam.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Assimilate, process and communicate a wide range of information from a variety of sources.

Process and critically assess information derived from historical research, utilising theoretical and methodological knowledge and skills specific to the subject area.

Provide clear written and oral analyses based on historical information.

Master practical skills in accessing and interpreting historical sources.

Construct and pursue a coherent argument driven by analysis of the primary source material.

Analyse, assimilate and deploy critically a range of secondary literature relevant and essential to the student's individual research subject.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Mirko Canevaro
Tel: (0131 6)51 1256
Course secretaryMiss Lauren Smith
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