After Empire: The Greek World in the Fourth Century BC

History 103A.002

Spring 2006
Instructor (text): 
201 Giannini
Day & Time: 
Wed 10-12

At the very end of the fifth century BC, the Greek world was in shambles. In the wake of Athenian defeat in the Peloponnesian War, its enemies had only narrowly decided not to turn the territory of the ancient city of Athens into pasture for sheep. The period from the end of the Peloponnesian War to the accession of Alexander III to the throne of Macedon (404-336) is often neglected by historians, dismissed as a period of disarray, fragmentation, and bickering. It is, however, a period brimming with interest for the historian. The collapse of the Athenian empire led not only the Athenians but also the rest of the Greek world to rethink political practice and interstate relations. The long war had massive social and economic implications, and in this period we can study an array of fascinating responses to a radically altered Greek world. Our study of the period will be both geographically and thematically organized: major topics will include the attempted recrudescence of empire, the development of political confederations, Greek-Persian relations, stasis, the stirrings of panhellenism, attitudes toward tyranny, wealth and poverty, warfare and mercenarism, euergetism and the rise of inter-state arbitration. We will focus throughout on the special problems associated with writing a history of this period from the sources available to us. For every class we will read documentary(epigraphic) evidence along with literary sources, and a central goal of the course will be to learn how to use this material as historical evidence. All primary source readings will be in English, but those who read Greek will be encouraged to consult the original texts.