University Of Edinburgh

Ancient History 2a: Past and Present in the Ancient World


Iowa State Course Substitution

ME Humanities Elective


Course Info
International Credits:
Converted Credits:
United Kingdom
Course Description:
The course is an introduction to the study of ancient historiography itself a crucial element of the study of history past and present. I.e. the course encourages students to analyse a good number of ancient historians and histories especially the key figures and key texts in the development of the practice we call history including Herodotus Thucydides Xenophon Polybius Livy Cassius Dio Tacitus Ammianus Marcellinus and others. The selection of authors to be studied in any one year depends on the research expertise of staff teaching the course so as to allow maximum scope for cutting edge teaching based on new research undertaken by staff at Edinburgh. The course offers focussed study of key ancient historians in lectures and tutorials, covering both Greek and Roman historians, and a period that stretches roughly one millennium. A typical class schedule may look like this: W1 Herodotus W2 Thucydides W3 Xenophon W4 Alexander historians W5 Polybius W6 Diodorus Siculus W7 Livy W8 Tacitus and Suetonius W9 Suetonius W10 Cassius Dio W11 Eusebius Students should thus gain a sound understanding of the creation and evolution of the writing of history, and in particular a clear understanding of the beginnings of the practice of history writing - and thus of the foundations of the modern practice. In studying important historical writings and their authors, students will explore the concept of 'history' in comparing different ancient and modern approaches to this concept. Students will thus be challenged to consider and reconsider their own and others' assumptions of what history is and how history is (to be) written. In sum: whilst the past remains unchanged, history is always changing, and this course is concerned to examine how the past and present have been continuously interpreted and reinterpreted in antiquity through the exercise that we call history. It explores the sources and methods by which history is constructed in antiquity, looking at the roles different types of evidence can play, as well as how different historians aim to change the history of a particular geography, period or topic. This course builds upon the first year survey courses in Classics with the intention to deepen students' understanding of ancient history as well as their understanding of how history is written.


Evaluation Date:
July 6, 2016
Christian Schwartz