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CLAS 0030 Greek Literature of the Fifth Century BCE

Through the genres of history, lyric and drama, this course explores the life and thinking of fifth-century BCE Greek city-states, with new ideas about morality and identity being introduced to Athens by the Sophists, while some hold on to the aristocratic values of the Homeric hero.


Herodotus, Histories Books 1 and 7

Pindar, Pythian 1 and 9 and Olympian 1

Sophocles, Ajax

Euripides, Hippolytus

Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae

Sample topics:

  1. Herodotus’ approach to the differences between Greeks and barbarians
  2. Pindar’s use of myths and imagery to praise victors
  3. The treatment of the themes of community and honour in the Ajax
  4. Psychology and religion in the Hippolytus
  5. Gender politics and the relationship between comedy and tragedy in the Thesmophoriazusae
  6. How literature of the 5th century BCE approaches religion

There is no language requirement for this tutorial: all texts are taught in English translation.  However, if you do have the relevant language skills then it can be taught through the original texts: contact the Senior Tutor to discuss this.

A life-changing experience
My semester at CMRS was a life-changing experience. With the backdrop of the beautiful and historically-relevant Oxford, I read, wrote, and learned mo...
Jason Martin, Spring Semester 2011, Albion College