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

Postgraduate Course: Religion and War in Archaic and Classical Greece (PGHC11574)

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 examines the role that religion played in the affairs of war in the Archaic and Classical Greek world. Special areas include: excuses and justifications of war, battle commemoration, oracular consultations, and cults for the war dead. We will bring together material, literary, and epigraphic sources.
Course description From the earliest description of warfare in the Homeric epics we see that the gods were not mere spectators in the conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans but were active participants. We do not see such direct involvement in later authors, but we know that there was popular belief that gods were interested in human affairs, particularly in one of the most important spheres of Greek activity, war. Owing to the interaction of the gods in war and their responsibility for its outcomes, both good and ill, religious settings were appropriate public spaces for referring, through a diverse range of images and objects, to battle.

This module will examine the role that the ancient Greeks of the Archaic and Classical periods believed their gods played in warfare -- both wars between Greek states and wars against barbarians, especially the Persians. We will explore the material culture of warfare, how to read images of war on vase painting and sculpture, how Greeks commemorated battles in their sanctuaries by displaying their victories in a PanHellenic or local setting, how the war-dead were treated, and how hero-cults were formed for the fallen. We will investigate how this is done at a polis and personal level. We will examine how religion influenced decisions, formed sacred topography, offered excuses and justifications for war, and how authors such as Herodotus and Thucydides portray religion in their works. The module will use a wide range of resources -- archaeological, artistic, literary, and epigraphic -- to study Greek religion and warfare.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Religion and War in Archaic and Classical Greece (ANHI10101)
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.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
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 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
4,000 - 5,000 word research essay (80%)
Participation (attendance and contribution to discussions) (20%)
Feedback Students can submit a gobbet/ image with a relative question for analysis and discussion (500 words) for formative feedback.

Students will receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Reflect critically on the relationship between religious practices and warfare in Greek antiquity.
  2. Develop skills to analyse material and textual sources for the ancient world in a written form.
  3. Understand how this material can aid with our view of ancient Greek beliefs, politics, interstate relations, and personal affairs.
  4. Analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship relating to Greek religion and warfare.
  5. Understand methodological difficulties in reading archaeological and written sources, both ancient and modern.
Reading List
Bravo, J., 'Heroic epiphanies: narrative, visual, and cultic contexts', in N. Marinatos (ed.) Divine Epiphany in the Ancient World (Urbana and Chicago, 2004) 65-86.

Dewald, C., 'Justice and justifications: war theory among the Greeks', in Neusner, J et al. (eds.), Just War in Religion and Politics (Lanham, 2013) 27-50.

Dillon, M. et al. eds. Religion and Classical Warfare: Archaic and Classical Greece (South Yorkshire, 2020).

Flower, M.A., 'Athenian religion and the Peloponnesian War', in Palagia, O. (ed.) Art in Athens during the Peloponnesian War (Cambridge and New York, 2009).

Hölscher, T., 'Images of war in Greece and Rome: between military practice, public memory, and cultural symbolism', JRS (2003) 93: 1-17.

Hornblower, S., 'The religious dimension to the Peloponnesian War, or, what Thucydides does not tell us', HSPh (1992) 94, 169-97.

Jameson, M.H., 'Sacrifice before battle', in Hanson, V.D. (ed.), Hoplites: The Classical Greek Battle Experience, (London, 1991) 197-227.

Marinatos, N., 'Thucydides and Oracles', JHS (1981) 101, 138-40.

Nevin, S., Military Leaders and Sacred Space in Classical Greek Warfare: Temples, Sanctuaries and Conflict in Antiquity (London, 2017).

Pritchett, W.K., The Greek State at War: Religion (Berkeley, 1979).

Sinn, U., 'Greek sanctuaries as places of refuge' in Marinatos N. and R. Hägg (eds.) Greek Sanctuaries: New Approaches (London and New York, 1994), 88-109.

Ulanowski, K., The Religious Aspects of War in the Ancient Near East, Greece, and Rome (Leiden, 2016).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Analyse, assimilate and deploy critically a range of secondary literature relevant and essential to the student's individual research subject.

Provide clear written and oral analyses based on historical and archaeological information.

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

Construct and pursue a coherent argument driven by analysis of the primary source material.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Nicolette Pavlides
Tel: (0131 6)51 3856
Course secretary
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