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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Alain M. Gowing
GREEK 424
Seattle Campus

Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War

Recommended: either minimum two years of ancient Greek language study at college level or equivalent.

Class description

This very enjoyable class will feature a reading of Books 6 and 7 of the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides (ca. 460-400 BC), by common consent one of the greatest of the ancient historians. These books narrate the disastrous ‘Sicilian Expedition’ in 415-13 BC, an attempt by the Athenians to salvage the war they had been waging against Sparta for over fifteen years. Thucydides’ account culminates in the famous battle in the Great Harbor of Syracuse, a battle narrative that would be emulated and imitated by virtually every ancient historian thereafter. But along the way we come to know many famous Athenians (and Spartans), including Alcibiades, and learn a great deal about Athenian and even Sicilian history. And what’s better than Sicilians and Greeks together in one story? In addition to translating (we will read portions of Books 6 and 7 in Greek, the rest in English), we shall read some representative modern studies of Thucydides.

Student learning goals

Improve their ability to read classical Greek prose

Learn about one of the first and greatest of the classical historians

Become familiar with the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), a pivotal event in Athenian history, and especially with the famous 'Sicilian Expedition' (415-413 BC)

Become familiar with some of the modern interpretive approaches to Thucydides

General method of instruction

Translation and discussion

Recommended preparation

A minimum of two years classical Greek at the college level (in UW terms, you should have at a minimum completed Greek 307)

Class assignments and grading

Reading and translation

Translation exams; a short paper; class preparation


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 Alain M. Gowing
Date: 03/25/2012