The Greek World: 403-31 BCE

History 105B

Fall 2013
Day & Time: 
TuTh 930-11A
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  • The Greek world grew to be far larger than its city-states of the fifth century. But only with increasing difficulty can we describe the political, social, and cultural history of the world as still Greek after 403 BCE. When the dust settled after a thirty-year war between Athens, Sparta, and the rest of the Peloponnese, it meant a turning point in history. This is the history of an ever-globalizing ancient world, encompassing change and continuity for Greeks, as well as Persians, Macedonians, Indians, Egyptians, Jews, and Romans.
    How should we explain four centuries of political experimentation and struggle for hegemony? Greek imperialism made way for federalism, while Macedon opposed it. Still a young man, Alexander the Great polarized alliances and conquered territories on a scale never seen before. His was a lasting legacy for the formidable kingdoms to come in Asia and Egypt, only to be replaced in 31 BCE by Rome, which started out no more significant than a farmer’s town in Italy. We will want to propose new models of power, for cities, kings, usurpers, and pirates. And we will want to investigate more closely the dealings of ordinary people and their lived, albeit anonymous, experience. How to understand the habits of civic and private life, of elites and scholars, of mercenaries and slaves, and of doing business? In all this, we will take an interest in the construction of cultural identity, such as the success and failure of Greek supremacy, Jewish integration, and religions both old and new.
    There will be readings assigned before each lecture and some participation in class will be required. Beside two short written assignments, there will be one midterm and a final exam.