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

Postgraduate Course: Herod the Great and the End of Hellenism (online) (PGHC11529)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryHerod ruled Judea, on traditional dating, from 40 - 4 BCE: a time of international transition. The Hellenistic era came to an end (30 BCE) in the face of Rome's supremacy, and the Roman state was itself revolutionised into the Augustan principate. So how does the king of Judaea, a territory on the periphery of Augustus' empire, fit in to this picture? This course will examine Herod's reign to elucidate the paradoxes and complexities of a monarchy that draw on Hellenistic traditions in a Jewish context under Roman rule.
Course description The story of Herod the Great (c. 73-4 BCE) is a gripping one that can be told from various angles. One story might focus on politics: Herod came to the throne in unusual circumstances and went on to oversee the transition of the Southern Levant from Hellenisticto Roman rule, walking a thin line between obedience to Roman overlords and opposition from local stakeholders. Another story might concentrate on identity: Herod's father was an Idumean, his mother a Nabatean, and yet he became king of the Jews - an unprecedented and far from uncontroversial appointment that challenged the very notion of what it meant to be Jewish. A third story could trace reception: we are uniquely well-informed about Herod through the writings of Flavius Josephus, but these already presuppose decades of (often unfavourable) reception and reinterpretation of Herod's reign - and if Herod is famous until this day, this is largely due to his role in the Christian nativity legend. What makes the study of Herod's reign challenging is that all these stories and more are inextricably linked.

Based on textual sources and an ever-growing body of material evidence, this course will examine recent trends in Herodian research through a number of case studies. The course is not biographically oriented: students are expected to familiarise themselves with the life of Herod early in the course, e.g. through reading one of the many biographies published recently. The course then highlights individual episodes (such as Herod's staging of gladiatorial games in Jerusalem), bodies of evidence (such as Herod's coins) or buildings (such as Herodium) to elucidatethe paradoxes and complexities of monarchy in a Jewish context under Roman rule. Students will learn to reflect critically on scholarly categories (what is "Hellenistic", "Roman", or "Jewish"?), ancient historiographical sources, and identity politics (both ancient and modern).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics, History or 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 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 13/01/2025
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Online Activities 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. 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. develop and sustain scholarly arguments in written form by formulating appropriate questions and by selecting and utilising relevant evidence.
  2. reflect critically on scholarly categories often employed in the study of Herod in particular, but which are also relevant to the study of the ancient world more generally
  3. demonstrate an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material and different scholarly approaches to it
  4. consider the implications of the knowledge gained in the course for understanding aspects of ancient and modern identity politics
Reading List
D. Ariel & J.-P. Fontanille, The Coins of Herod. A Modern Analysis and Die Classification, Leiden 2012.

E. Baltrusch, Herodes. König im Heiligen Land, Munich 2012.

K. Czajkowski & B. Eckhardt, Herod in History. Nicolaus of Damascus and the Augustan Context, Oxford 2021.

A. Marshak, The Many Faces of Herod the Great, Grand Rapids 2015.

E. Netzer, The Architecture of Herod, the Great Builder, Tübingen 2006.

P. Richardson & A. M. Fischer, Herod. King of the Jews and Friend of the Romans, 2nd ed. London 2018.

A. Schalit, König Herodes. Der Mann und sein Werk, Berlin 1969.G. Vermes, The True Herod, London 2014.
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 Kimberley Czajkowski
Tel: (0131 6)50 9110
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948
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