Classics (Q800): Selected Module Descriptions Year 2

Final Year 

Compulsory modules

Archaic to Classical (20)

Perhaps three centuries elapse between the transcription of the Homeric epics and the classical period of Greece, exemplified by the oratory and drama of Periclean Athens. This intervening, ‘Archaic’ period saw major changes in the world the Greeks knew: the rediscovery of literacy; urbanisation and the rise of the city-state, orpolis; a new kind of warfare (the ‘hoplite revolution’); increased trade and colonisation, and new forms of government (tyranny, helotage, and ultimately, democracy). Our best witness to these social and political developments is the verse literature of the Archaic age. In this module we will study this literature, beginning with the didactic epics of Hesiod. We will read the famous iambic and lyric poets, including Archilochus, Alcman, Alcaeus, Sappho, and Pindar – authors later canonised by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria, and of foundational importance to the poetry of the Romans.

Greek Prose Texts (20)

In this module students improve their linguistic ability by reading a range of Greek prose texts, practising their commentary and translation skills. Students will analyse different literary translations of the same Greek text with view to improving their own comprehension and translation skills. Students also practise and improve their unseen translation skills.

Latin Prose Texts (20)

In this module students improve their linguistic ability by reading a range of Latin prose texts, practising their commentary and translation skills. Students will analyse different literary translations of the same classical text with view to improving their own comprehension and translation skills. Students also practice and improve their unseen translation skills.

Study Tour (20)

The Study Tour gives students the opportunity to plan and undertake travel to various parts of the world (usually Italy, Greece, or Turkey) to visit sites, monuments and museums of particular interest to their degree programmes. Group work is key to the module: students plan, travel and present work as a group (normally 2-6 students in a group).

Semester 1 is the is the tour preparation section. In groups, students decide where they are going to visit, choose individual research topics, plan a detailed and annotated itinerary including two weeks of Study Tour activity, prepare a preliminary bibliography (academic and practical) and present these as an illustrated report. In addition they prepare a preliminary version of the University Risk Assessment form. In the course of the teaching period of Semester 2, students will liaise with their academic supervisor on two to four occasions to optimise their academic understanding of what is to be visited before setting out. In the Easter Vacation each group will undertake a 14-day Study Tour as outlined in their first illustrated report.

The Study Tour is subsidised by the department, however students may choose to contribute their own finances depending on where they decide to go, travel options and hotel choices. Typically, the University contributes £500 and the average student spends an additional £250, although many spend less than that. Students can also choose a UK-based Study Tour if they would prefer a more cost-effective option.

The Age of Cicero (20)

The module’s focus is on the letters, philosophical writings and forensic speeches of Cicero as literary and cultural documents. Themes considered include: friendship; love and sex; morality and immorality; public and private; the role of rhetoric; ambition and competition; the role of religion. Cicero’s contemporaries Catullus, Lucretius, and Sallust are included in the core reading, enabling students to form a complete picture of the literature and culture of the final years of the Roman republic.

Example optional modules may include:

Athenian Drama (20)

From its beginnings around 500 BC, tragic and comic drama was central to the democratic culture of ancient Athens, and plays rooted in ancient Greek drama continue to fascinate audiences around the world. In this module, we study drama in its ancient contexts of myth, history, politics and philosophy, and explore individual plays through the medium for which they were created: theatrical performance. We reflect both on their role in ancient democratic citizenship and on the qualities which make them such compelling models for playwrights and audiences today.

Classical Epic (20)

The module studies Greek and Roman epic poetry from Homer to Late Antiquity. Texts for detailed study will be chosen from a range which may include (but is not restricted to) the Homeric epics, the Homeric Hymns,  the works of Apollonius, Ennius, Catullus, Virgil, Lucan, Statius, and Quintus of Smyrna. It combines new perspectives on familiar classical texts with investigation of less widely-read authors from various periods. Students will follow the development of the epic genre and explore how its literary techniques and sense of tradition adapt to radically transformed cultural, social and historical circumstances. Students will also be encouraged to draw comparisons with the epic traditions of other cultures and to engage critically with modern receptions and translations of ancient epic.

Greece and Rome in Film and TV (20)

In this module students engage with representations of ancient Greece and Rome in cinema and television, selected from a range of films and programmes from the mid-20th to the early 21st century. Students also become acquainted with theories of film and media studies, and with the study of film/tv as a branch of classical reception studies.

Republican Rome: From the Gracchi to Caesar (20)

This module will examine the last century of the Roman Republic and in particular the political, social and cultural shifts that took place. A central question will be how the Roman political system coped with the effects of having become the dominant power in the Mediterranean, and the internal, social strains which intensified as a result. Students will gain a thorough grounding in the primary sources for this period (including the writings of Cicero, Caesar and Plutarch, as well as other material, including epigraphical and archaeological evidence where appropriate), and also with the latest developments in the study of the Late Roman Republic.

Roman Britain and the Roman Army (20)

This module uses the evidence for the Roman army in Britain both as a case-study the Roman army on an empire-wide basis and as a defining aspect of the study of Roman Britain. It introduces students to the sources of evidence for and debates about a range of topics including: the structure of the Roman army; the evidence for its forts and fortresses; conditions of service; military equipment; civilians and the Roman army; frontiers, especially Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall; the late Roman army and the Saxon Shore.

Roman Women (20)

In this module students examine the portrayal of Roman women in texts ranging from late republican to late imperial Rome. Texts will include Roman letters, historiography, epic, satire and elegy, as well as some epigraphic material. Representation of historical characters such as Clodia Metelli, or Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi, will be studied alongside fictional creations such as Propertius’ mistress ‘Cynthia’.

Seminar II (choice of seminar topics) (20 credits)

A range of topics (circa 15 each year) will be offered across the disciplinary scope of Department.  The topics will vary according to the current research interests of each member of staff but will normally focus on a well defined body of primary literary, visual, historical or archaeological data. Staff will publish a 300 word account of the topic offered and its research potential together with a brief introductory bibliography before course registration each year to enable students to select from themes related to their own period, area or subject interests.

Thinking Athenian (20)

Classical Athenians saw themselves as special. Descended from kings born from the earth itself, championed by the goddess Athena (who had to fight Poseidon for the honour!), inventors of democracy, victors at Marathon and Salamis, inventors of the dramatic arts, home to the best minds in the world, the list goes on and on. This module will look at Athenian attitudes to a variety of issues including: bravery, leisure, sexuality, politics, religion, warfare, money, and imperialism. It will also focus closely on the Athenian tendency towards the “othering” of non-elite male groups such as women, slaves, and foreigners, and even the poor. Ultimately we will be aiming to answer the question of whether the Athenians were peculiar in how they thought about the world.