LSII 041: Athenian Democracy, 560 to 399 B.C.

Skidmore College version
MW BO 281, F BI Room (Scribner Library), 11:15-12:10

INSTRUCTOR: Prof. Michael Arnush
Harder Hall 208A, x2147
Office Hours: MWF 9-10 or by appointment

ATTENDANCE POLICY:Class participation is an essential aspect of this class, and consists of two components: preparation of readings and assignments, and participation in class discussions - both oral and electronic. If you do not attend class you can not participate. Throughout the semester we will conduct discussions not only within the confines of the classroom but as well via an electronic newsgroup accessible via Netscape. The Netscape LSII041 newsgroup, which we will share with our Miami University counterparts, will form an essential corollary to the course, for we will use it to generate discussion, disseminate texts, announcements and other information, and raise issues of interest. Reader responses will be required and will count as well towards the class participation component of the grade.

NOTE: Absence from any exam without a written medical excuse will result in a grade of F for that exam. No late assignments of any kind will be accepted.


Click here to see the Main Syllabus and the general course Description

 The literary, artistic, political and social climate of the first seat of democracy from the mid-sixth century until the death of Socrates in 399 B.C. provides the framework for a multi-disciplinary study of the profound changes that occurred in ancient Athens. The theme of the course will focus upon the representation and self-awareness of the individual in classical Athens against the background of traditional Greek ways of thought and expression, and subsequently the changing relationship between the individual and democracy over a span of 160 years.

The objective of this course will be a greater understanding and appreciation of the various elements of democratic Athens that are often studied in isolation, and consequently the effect of this new principle of self-rule upon the individual and his/her role in Athenian society.

The course will be enriched by an active and continual collaboration with the members of a similar course being offered at Miami University (in Oxford, Ohio) by Suzanne Bonefas. Prof. Bonefas' specializations include archaeological and social perspectives, as well as the application of digital technology to the classroom, so we are fortunate to have the opportunity to benefit from her experience and expertise. The collaboration will be effected on several levels-- each Friday, the class will meet in Scribner Library's Bibliographic Instruction (BI) Room, where a live videoconference link will be established between the 2 classes. After Prof. Bonefas and I have provided some background and our perspectives on the day's material and issues, you will have the opportunity to participate in a discussion session with the members of both classes. One of the two classes will have posed some questions for the other in advance, and this session will be an opportunity to present your answers to those questions. In addition to these videoconferences, you will also complete collaborative projects, in groups of 2-5 members from both universities. This collaboration (and the projects themselves) will be accomplished via MiamiMOO and our Democracy Newsgroup. In the former you can interact with group members in real time, as well as "reconstruct" ancient sites and monuments which others can "visit".

 Note that a basic familiarity with information technology is one of the explicit goals of this course. This course is learner-centered and, like the Athenian democracy itself, participatory. If what you want is a lecture course, this is NOT the place for you!


This course has been designed to be learner-centered (as opposed to instructor-centered), and also incorporates the opportunity for students to become familiar with a wide variety of technologies. Expect to play a very active role, as both learner, teacher and evaluator of your peers. It is the technology which frees the learner from the constraints of traditional teacher-student/active lecturer-passive listener hierarchies and provides the potential for direct and personal interaction with and access to the primary materials themselves. You should, however, expect a learning curve when dealing with any new technology or skill, which will at times be frustrating. This is as true of learning to do research in the library as it is of learning how to use and make information available on the WorldWide Web. Keep in mind, however, that the technology is a means to an end, and that it will ultimately empower you more than it hinders you.

Some of the specific technologies employed in this course are:

(1) newsgroup. This is a place where you can post questions and comments about the reading, and comment on posts made by other members of both classes. At Skidmore, most students use their UNIX accounts to read the news, as this has a relatively friendly interface. I recommend that you access the newsgroup via the Democracy in Ancient Athens homepage where a link has been created to our newsgroup, local.lsii.041. The newsgroup will be our forum for continuing discussion of the issues and course material. Think of it as a place to air all those questions and opinions that never occur to you until after class is over and it seems too late. Ideally, discussion should not be limited by the class period, and many people have difficulty thinking and responding thoughtfully under such constraints. With the newsgroup, you don't have to -- it's your second chance to contribute.

(2) e-mail and listserv. Everyone in the course will be subscribed to a class listserv, which is essentially a shared e-mail address to which anyone can send a message that all others in the class will be able to access. E-mail will also be crucial for communication with remote group members. The listserv will be used for the posting of information about the class (e.g., study questions and changes of assignments and as a place to ask questions that arise outside of class (both about the material and technical matters.)

(3) Perseus. This is a Macintosh (specifically Hypercard) based database of texts, images, plans, maps and secondary material associated with ancient Greece (especially the archaic and classical periods), available via a link to The Perseus Project Home Page over the World Wide Web courtesy of Tufts University. Some of the Perseus labs will be completed by the entire class; others will be assigned to selected groups, who will report about what they learned to the rest of your section, or possibly to the whole class. Perseus will also be used as a primary source of information for the course, and you should use it as you would a textbook or library resource. It will, for example, be VERY useful for MOO building projects.

(4) MiamiMOO. This is a multi-user, text-based, user-built virtual reality. This means: (a) that you can talk to other people who are logged on and in the same "room" as you are; (b) that what you "see" is actually described in words on the screen; and (c) that you can "build" sites and objects on the MOO. The MOO projects for this course involve collaboration with members of the Miami University Ancient Democracy course to construct various sites and monuments in ancient Athens. Your projects can have 2 dimensions: (a) reconstructing the sites and monuments of classical Athens and (b) re-enacting the events and activities which occurred in these places. These projects may also involve placing illustrations on the World Wide Web, with which the MOO has a direct interface.

(5) The World Wide Web. (abbreviated WWW, W3 or "the Web") The Web can be thought of as a subset of the Internet. WWW documents may contain text, images, movies and sound as well as "links" to other WWW documents. This means of linking documents (and other kinds of information) is called "hyper-text" (or, more accurately, "hyper-media"), since the linked documents form, in effect, a non-linear "text" in which the various elements can be experienced (or not) in whatever order the "reader" chooses. To say that something is "on the Web" means that it resides on a computer that has been set up as a web server and that it can be accessed and viewed with a type of application program called a web browser. The class will have a shared web page, accessible (and in some cases editable) by both the Skidmore and Miami classes. This is where you will go to view course-specific images and texts and to learn more about your counterparts in Ohio.

 Your Web projects (should you choose this as your final project) will be content-oriented, and may involve text and images intended to supplement and enhance your MOO building projects. Keep in mind that these Web pages will be accessible both to other members of the class as well as to pretty much everyone else in the universe with an internet connection. Thus, these projects will essentially be published, and will remain on the web for as long as the College chooses to allow it, and they will also no doubt be anchored to other web sites that deal with antiquity. In addition to its role as a place for class projects, the class Web site will also be a central repository for course materials, including an up-to-date copy of this syllabus. The Web can be accessed from any networked campus computer, regardless of platform, using a web browser such as Netscape, Mosaic or Lynx. The URL (Web address) for the Athenian Democracy page is:

The Honor Code. Skidmore's Honor Code applies to every aspect of this course; that is, you affirm "to adhere to honesty and integrity in all relationships, to be considerate of the rights of others, and to abide by the College regulations."

Back to the Shared Syllabus

Back to the Athenian Democracy Home Page
Skidmore Classics || S. Bonefas' Home Page || Miami Classics

Revised: 21 January 1996, MFA