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Semester 1

Sparta and Crete: Classical Greek Society Beyond Athens (ANHI10061)

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Ancient History





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Visiting students must have previously taken at least 3 courses in Classics related subject matter (at least 2 of which should be in Ancient History) at grade B or above for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the academic pre-requisites does NOT guarantee admission. **Please note that 3rd year Ancient History courses are very popular and have strict visiting student quotas, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.** These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.

Course Summary

The course is an introduction to the histories of ancient Sparta and Crete. Through examining evidence from Sparta and Crete during the classical period, this course aims to go beyond an Athenocentric view of 'Greek society'.

Course Description

In this course, students will encounter the complex and contradictory evidence for the fabric and character of classical Spartan society and the nature of her institutions through a close study of texts in translation. Lectures will focus upon political, social and economic institutions as well as ideologies of warfare and community, the role of women, and sexuality. Other topics include the character of slavery in Sparta (helotage), how it compares in legal terms to slavery at Athens, and its function in Sparta's political economy. Crete presents very different material for study. Though the lectures shall present the evidence of Aristotle, Ephorus and other non-Cretan writers who comment on Cretan society, the main focus will be on epigraphy and in particular the 'Great Code' of Gortyn (IC IV 72), supplemented by a selection of other Gortynian inscriptions in translation. Beyond an in-depth study of Gortynian laws on the household, family, and slavery, students will compare the example of Gortyn to the generalisations found in the literary sources which present Crete as undifferentiated (though it contained over 60 different city states, most of them independent of one another) in order to gauge the degree to which Cretan city states displayed common institutions and practices. A typical class schedule will cover the following topics: 1. Introduction, 2. The mirage of classical Sparta and the invention of tradition (Sparta in the basic textbooks; Sparta in popular culture; invention of tradition as a subject in historiography, 3. Behind the mirage: problems with our sources, with classical land tenure as a case study, 4. Sparta's political institutions, 5. Social groups and aspects of status (citizens, helots, perioikoi and other subaltern groups), 6. The political economy of helotage, 7. The threat of helots? Revolts and management of slavery in Sparta, 8. Citizen military ideology in Sparta: the education system, 9. Spartan women: myth and reality, 10. Messenia and national identity, 11. Wealth and the power of wealth in Sparta, 12. Sparta: an unusual society?, 13. The archaic origins of Sparta's institutions, 14. Introduction: Plato and Aristotle on the similarity of Spartan and Cretan society (and a look at the Geography and settlement archaeology of Crete), 15. Introduction to the Gortyn lawcode: formation, purpose, format, 16. The family and the household in Gortynian law, 17. Legal procedure at Gortyn, 18. Slavery at Gortyn, 19. Cretan pederasty and education, 20. Common institutions of the Cretans? The question of diversity, 21. Helotic slavery in comparative perspective: Crete, Sparta, Thessaly, Heraclea, 22. Review: How similar was Spartan and Cretan society? At the end of the course, students will compare Spartan and Cretan society to reflect on the similarities and differences between the two.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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