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History of Ancient Greece

“Without Greek studies there is no education.”

Course and section:

HIA 320, section XW81
Fall 2013


Room CA-209
6:00 – 8:40 p.m.


Mark Wilson
(718) 960-8288 [History office]

Office Hours:

Room CA-292
Mondays and Wednesdays
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Rationale    More than any other ancient culture, the world of Hellas—the Greek-speaking lands and islands of the Aegean Sea and beyond—attempted to improve and perfect society and civilization, to such an extent that Hellas became a crucible for the fundamental ideas of the “western” world, ideas that formed the bedrock for nations disseminated far and wide across continents and oceans. What made the Greek ideas about how humans relate to the world and each other so elemental? How did the peoples of Hellas evolve their unique perspective?

Aims  In this course we will explore the beginnings of European civilization—its gradual unfolding and culmination in Greece, through examination of the key transformations of Greek culture and city-states from the Bronze Age up through the hellenization of the east by the Macedonians.

Specific Learning Objectives  In this course we’ll be pursuing a number of goals, including:

  • Exploration of the emergence of Greek civilization and its implications for humanity
  • Relation of the cultures and beliefs of other Eastern Mediterranean societies to those of Greece
  • Exploration of the transformation of Greek social, military, religious, and other norms from the rise of the Minoans to the Macedonian conquest of southwest Asia
  • Discussion of the relationship between the ideals of ancient Hellas and the modern Western ethos
  • Development of the skills associated with the study of history, including the interpretation of primary sources and other evidence.


Course Readings

The following three books are required:

Pomeroy, Sarah B., et al.
Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. 3rd edition.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
ISBN: 978-0-199-84604-7.

  • Make sure you get the third edition—it’s significantly different from the first and second.

Aristophanes, and Peter Meineck.
Hackett Publishing Co., 2000.
ISBN: 978-0-872-20516-1.

  • The play itself is widely available, but we’ll also be working with the translator’s annotations and interpretations, so you’ll want to get this version if possible. Another possibility (used previously for this class) is the translation by Marie Marianetti, ISBN: 978-0-761-80588-5.

Wilson, Mark (Ed.).
Readings from Hellas: Sources for the Exploration of Ancient Greece. 2nd edition.
ISBN: 978-1-490-42458-3.

All are available from Lehman College Bookstore, either in person or online.

All three are also available from Amazon and other online retailers. (There are links on the course web page.) If you order online, make sure you do so enough in advance that you’ll receive the books in time for the assignments.


Class attendance is required. Missing classes will damage your grade.

  • The textbook is designed to give you the basics; it’s in class that we try to make sense of things and sift out what’s important. Missing classes means you miss out on a key part of our trying to put things together.
  • Plus, if you miss classes or habitually arrive late, you’ll miss quizzes, which will put a big crimp in your grade for the course.
  • Religious observances that affect your class attendance should be discussed in advance.

Make-up exams are given only in cases of documented medical emergencies.


Your grade for the course will be determined from the following:


Quizzes  We’ll have very short quizzes at the start of class, more or less every week, to help gauge our relationship with the material in the readings.

  • Quizzes are based on the readings for that class in both the textbook and either the Reader or the play, whichever is assigned that week. If you did your reading for the class, you should be prepared for the quiz.
  • Missed quizzes are not made up. If you come late to class and miss a quiz, you’ll get a zero for that quiz. Therefore, please make sure you come to class on time and prepared.
  • Quizzes are always based on the readings listed on the assignment sheet, even if I am slightly behind the syllabus in the topics I discuss in class. Make sure to do the assigned readings.


Presentation and Write-Up on a Primary Source    You’ll make a short presentation on one of the primary source excerpts assigned as class readings.

  • Your presentation will give the class your perspective on (a) what this reading means, (b) the author’s perspective on the topics, and (c) how it relates to the material being discussed in the course.
  • Your presentation will be given the day that reading is assigned on the schedule.
  • A 3 page write-up of your take on the reading, incorporating class discussion, is due the next class.


Two Short Essays   You’ll write two short interpretive essays, one on The Clouds and one on representations and images of Greek society. We’ll talk about what’s expected, and I’ll have a handout with the specific assignments.


Position Paper   You’ll write a position paper on your choice of topic related to Greek history, due at the end of the semester, using primary and secondary sources. We’ll talk about what’s expected, and I’ll have a handout with the specific assignments.


Final Exam  The final exam will take place Wednesday, Dec. 18, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Submitting Assignments

You may email me your written assignments, but it doesn’t “count” unless you get an email back from me saying I received it. Unless I reply back to you, I didn’t receive it. If there’s any question about whether I’m receiving your emails, please talk to me about it in class. I will accept only the following file formats: DOCX, DOC, RTF, and PDF.

Late assignments will be marked down. Written assignments will be marked down one letter grade per class meeting after the assignment due date, up to a maximum of 30 points. That means you’re still better off turning in your paper late, and having it be marked down, than not turning it in at all.

Grading Procedures

I do not give extra credit opportunities except to the entire class. I do not grade on a curve.

>97 93–97 90–92 88–89 83–87 80–82 78–79 73–77 70–72 68–69 63–67 60–62 <60
A+ A A– B+ B B– C+ C C– D+ D D– F


Don’t waste this opportunity! Make the most out of this class.

Please use me as a resource. Come to my office hours, talk to me after class, or send me emails with any questions you have—whether they relate to the requirements of the course or ideas we’re reading about or discussing in class.

Be on time and prepared. By prepared, I mean you should come into class having done the readings for that day and thought about them. Come in ready to talk about your reactions to the readings and the questions they raised in your mind.

Check your email. Make sure I have a good email address for you and check it, as I occasionally send information and updates by email. If you have not gotten an email from me within the first week after school begins, check your spam folders. If you can’t find an email from me, email me to let me know.

Cell phones and electronics need to be silenced and stowed. A phone ringing during class is hugely disruptive. Texting during class is just as rude and insulting as talking on the phone.

Talk to me if you’re struggling. Come to me in office hours or after class, and the sooner the better. Don’t wait until it’s too late to turn things around.


Academic Integrity

Lehman College is committed to the highest standards of academic honesty. Acts of academic dishonesty include—but are not limited to—plagiarism (in drafts, outlines, and examinations, as well as final papers), cheating, bribery, academic fraud, sabotage of research materials, the sale of academic papers, and the falsification of records. An individual who engages in these or related activities or who knowingly aids another who engages in them is acting in an academically dishonest manner and will be subject to disciplinary action.

Plagiarism includes the incorporation of any material that is not original with you without attribution, whether from a book, article, web site, or fellow student, in any paper or assignment. Assignments that include any plagiarism will receive a zero and the offending student will be subject to additional action by the College. Students engaging in repeated instances of plagiarism will fail the course outright and will be remanded to the College for disciplinary action.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Lehman College is committed to providing access to all programs and curricula to all students. Students with disabilities who may need classroom accommodations are encouraged to register with the Office of Student Disability Services.

  • For more information, please contact the Office of Student Disability Services, Shuster Hall, Room 238; phone number: (718) 960-8441.