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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Carol G Thomas
HSTAM 403
Seattle Campus

Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age

Rise of Macedonia, conquest of Near East by Alexander, and division into lesser kingdoms after Alexander's death. Special emphasis on fusion of cultures and change from city-state to world-state.

Class description

Greeks of the “Golden Age” exhausted themselves in perpetual warfare, regularly with one another. This proclivity culminated in a 27 year civil war lasting from 431 to 404 BCE. Although the established way of life continued, the early fourth century saw a repetition of the on-going warfare against one another. Apart from weakening their own civilization, this century saw the consolidation of a kingdom in the north scorned by Greeks as barbarian. The chaos in Greece was an excellent opportunity for Philip II of Macedon to extend his influence; at the time of his death, the kingdom stretched from the Adriatic to the Black Sea and from the Balkans through the Greek mainland. His son, Alexander III, continued the expansion through the Persian Empire into India thus uniting the Ancient Near East with Macedon and Greece. The way of life changed dramatically for the Greeks whose democratic participation in their small states was replaced by control by a powerful monarch. The change is marked by the designation of the culture as Hellenistic as Greek-like rather than Hellenic or Greek.

HSTAM403 explores these developments from 404 BCE to the conquest of the remains of Alexander’s empire by the Romans in 30 BCE.

Student learning goals

Transformation of Greek way of life

Nature and role of the kingdom of Macedon

Accomplishment of Alexander III and developments after his death

Rise of Roman power in the Greek sphere

Understanding of surviving evidence from the period

Practice in analytical interpretation of the evidence

General method of instruction

Lecture and discussion

Recommended preparation

There are no formal prerequisites but understanding of the larger context of ancient Mediterranean history is valuable. Interest in developments between the Age of the independent Greek states and the rise of Rome is essential.

Class assignments and grading

Class format is lecture joined with discussion. Assignments include three short papers during the ten weeks and a final take-home essay that draws together the cumulative developments of the period. There are two in-class exams - a mid-term and a final: both focus on essential factual knowledge.

Grades are assigned on the basis of timely and satisfactory fulfillment of each task. This is a writing course.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Carol G Thomas
Date: 05/12/2013