HI203 Rise of Athens

Prof. Michael Arnush Ladd 209 x5462
marnush@skidmore.edu Hours: MF 12-1pm
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Students in this course will explore the social, political, economic and artistic contributions of the Greeks to western civilization, with a focus on the community of ancient Athens. Using literary, historical and archaeological methodologies, students will examine the history of Greece from the Mycenaean Bronze Age, to the Homeric era in the 8th century BCE, to the preeminence of Athens in the 5th century. Through readings, discussions and essays, students will demonstrate proficiency in the details that comprise Greek history, and an understanding of such broad topics as the elegance of archaic Greek civilization, relations among Greek city-states and with foreign nations, social and political institutions, imperialism, the golden age of Greek literature, and the rise of Athenian imperialism.

What is the legacy of the ancient Greeks? Here's a very partial list of inventions we attribute to them:

  • the city-state (polis), where free male citizens managed the community's affairs
  • epic poetry, in particular Homer's Iliad and Odyssey
  • drama: the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides; the comedies of Aristophanes
  • democracy, the rights of the citizen, the rule of the people, jury courts, law-codes
  • philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, logic, rhetoric, and aesthetics
  • historiography, or the writing of history, including the world's first history by Herodotus
  • science, mathematics, geometry, quasi-calculus, astronomy
  • liberal education in arithmetic, geometry, logic, language, rhetoric, music and astronomy
  • the trireme, the most advanced warship of the age
  • technology: gears, catapults, screws, bronze-casting, water-powered clocks and organs
  • Olympic games, the palaestra and the gymnasium

If the legacy of Greece means not only inventions but also spectacular developments in various areas of human endeavor, we can include in our list

  • the Parthenon, perhaps the greatest artistic and technological achievement of the age
  • temple architecture
  • temple and free-standing sculpture
  • vase-painting, especially black-figure and red-figure
  • economic management on both a small (domestic) and large (city-state) scale
  • superior techniques in waging war, including the development of the hoplite phalanx
We will devote our semester to reading about, viewing, and monitoring these advances in the human experience.

Students in HI203 Greek History will demonstrate the ability to

  • read and analyze historical documents and material culture within their social contexts and evaluate the role of the individual and the community in ancient Greece
  • develop multi- and cross-cultural perspectives and apply them to gender, ethnic and social issues
  • conduct research by traditional and digital methods
  • read critically and analyze closely literary texts and modern scholarship
  • present orally and in written form an argument supported by primary and secondary sources
As you hone your skills as a student of Greek history you will develop your own perspectives, methodologies and solutions to some of the vexing questions that the study of history raises. It is absolutely essential that you take credit for your own work, and give credit to others when you draw upon their ideas and words.

Accordingly, plagiarism and cheating of all sorts will not be tolerated in this course and are grounds for an "F". Be sure to read carefully the Academic Integrity Handbook, summarized on the Ethics of Scholarship webpage. For each assignment, please refer to the Academic Integrity Checklist as well.

All members of the College community are bound by Skidmore's Honor Code, included here:

"I hereby accept membership in the Skidmore College Community and, with full realization of the responsibilities inherent in membership, do agree to adhere to honesty and integrity in all relationships, to be considerate of the rights of others, and to abide by the college regulations."