Greek History and Historiography
Learning outcomes of the course unit
By following this course, students will acquire an in-depth knowledge of a crucial phase of the history of classical Athens and a full understanding of the methodological problems related to the use of sources that look at the same events from different perspectives. Students will be able to employ these newly acquired competences in terms of learning capacity, in particular by making comparisons with other similar, both ancient and modern, historical and historiographical problems. Thanks to the peculiar teaching methodology of the course, students will also be able to develop their capacity for independent judgment in the study of primary and secondary sources. They will also refine their communication skills by exposing the teacher and their classmates the results of their individual researches.
A good preparation on the political history of ancient Greece and a sufficient level of knowledge of the ancient Greek language.
Course contents summary
The course is in a single Unit (6 CFU = 36 hours, comprehensive of frontal lessons and tutorials): November, 10th-December, 10th 2015. Its title is: "The divided city: Athens in 404-403 BC".
The harsh peace terms imposed by Sparta at the end of the Peloponnesian War paved the way to the bloodiest and most dramatic oligarchic experience in the long history of the Athenian polis: the so-called regime of the Thirty Tyrants, that is, the attempt by Critias and his followers to 'laconize' Attica. The ensuing stasis ("civil war"), which threatened to destroy Athens, ended in September 403 BC with an 'amnesty' and a partial reconciliation between the parties and with the restoration of democracy – though a somewhat different form of democracy from that of the previous years; but Athenian society continued to be crossed by tensions arising from the experience of the stasis. Through a careful reading of the several, and often conflicting, sources about the history of these dramatic years (chiefly Xenophon's "Hellenica", a few orations of Lysias, Aristotle's "Athenaion Politeia", some chapters of the universal history of Diodorus Siculus, of Justin's Epitome and of Plutarch's "Life of Lysander") the course will attempt at a reconstruction of the events and of the role of the main protagonists (Critias, Theramenes, Lysander among others). Meanwhile, the course will also investigate how the Athenians tried to build a 'shared memory' that would put an end to the lacerations caused by the stasis.
A. The main primary sources that will be analysed in class are the following:
- Xenophon, "Hellenika", II 2-4;
- Aristotle, "Athenaion Politeia", 34-41,1;
- Lysias, (XII) "Against Eratosthenes", (XIII) "Against Agoratos", (XXV) "Defense against a Charge of suverting Democracy": selected passages;
- The so called "Theramenes Papyrus";
- Diodorus Siculus, XIII 107; XIV 3-6; 32-33;
- Justin, "Epitome", V 7-10;
- Plutarch, "Life of Lysander", selected passages.
The teacher will upload copies of these sources and of their translations before the beginning of the course on https://didattica.unipr.it.
- L. Canfora, "La guerra civile ateniese", Milano, Rizzoli, 2013 (rist. Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, 2014).
- C. Bearzot, "Come si abbatte una democrazia. Tecniche di colpo di Stato nell’Atene antica", Roma-Bari, Editori Laterza, 2013.
- P. Krentz, "The Thirty at Athens", Ithaca-London, Cornell University Press, 1982.
- N. Loraux, "La città divisa. L’oblio nella memoria di Atene", trad. it., Vicenza, Neri Pozza Editore, 2006.
- D. Piovan, "Memoria e oblio nella guerra civile. Strategie giudiziarie e racconto del passato in Lisia", Pisa, Edizioni ETS, 2011.
N.B.: for the preparation of the exam is required the reading of the book of L. Canfora, "La guerra civile ateniese", pp. 1-308.
The 30 hours of frontal lessons will be integrated with seminars during which individual students will engage in in-depth analyses of specific topics or will comment parts of the text only briefly dealt with in classes – all this with the aid of the reference works and additional scholarship recommended by the teacher.
Assessment methods and criteria
Learning assessment will consist of an oral examination, which will weigh no less than 50% of the final grading. The minimum requirement to pass the exam is for the student to be able to properly comment a part of the text proposed by the teacher during the exam, and to demonstrate an adequate mastery of the topics dealt with in the frontal lessons. The rest of the final grading will be assessed during the seminars and will depend on the student’s capacity to properly develop his/her own research on the topic agreed upon with the teacher, to present the results by using the adequate specialized vocabulary, and to demonstrate a certain competence in dealing with research tools and methodology.