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Course Information

Instructor Info:Robert Meagher
Office Extension x5417
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 102
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 102

The century in which Greek drama was developed-twenty-five centuries ago-was for Athens a century of war so like our own that General George C. Marshall, as Secretary of State, once said "I doubt seriously whether a man (sic) can think with full wisdom and with deep convictions regarding certain of the basic international issues today who has not at least reviewed in his mind the period of the Peloponnesian War and the Fall of Athens." The same may be said of a less international issue: not how and where best to wage war, but how and where best to recover from it. For the ancient Athenians, the answer lay in the theater. Jonathan Shay, author of Achilles in Vietnam, puts it quite simply when he argues that "Athenian theater was created and performed by combat veterans for an audience of combat veterans; they did this to enable returning soldiers to function together in a 'democratic' polity." The core texts of this class will be the Peloponnesian War of Thucydides and the anti-war dramas of Euripides and Aristophanes.

Course Objectives:

Attendance and Participation:

Students are expected to come to class on time and to attend all scheduled class meetings. If you have to miss a class due to serious illness, religious observance, or family emergency, you should email the instructor and inform him of your absence prior to the missed class. Keep in mind that when you miss a class, it becomes your responsibility to contact your classmates to find out about the announcements and class discussion that you missed. Three absences from class are allowed for medical and other contingencies.  With four absences, for any reason, a student forfeits any right to formal evaluation of his or her work in this course.  In certain instances, however, evaluation may be possible, given exceptional circumstances and additional independent work.  The initiative for such an exception must be made by the student.  A sign-in sheet will be on hand for each class, and it is the student’s responsibility to check off their name on that sheet. This will be the basis for assessing class attendance. Students are expected to complete the reading assignments and assigned film viewings before coming to each class and to be ready to take an active role in the discussion. Class participation is an important part of the course requirements.

Evaluation Criteria:

Summary of Requirements for Evaluation

• attendance and active engagement in all class meetings

• completion of all assigned readings and films prior to their consideration in class

• timely completion of mid-term essays

• timely submission of prospectus for independent research project

• At our final class meeting, together with their final projects, all Hampshire students wishing evaluation must submit a one-page self-evaluation.  This should be submitted to me in hard copy and also filed on the HUB. For return of work, include a self-addressed, stamped (if necessary) envelope. There will be no extensions or incompletes.

Writing Assignments

•  Mid-term essays, due in class Thursday March 14. Assigned topics will be available online two weeks in advance.

•  Final research essay, approximately 8–10 pages (2,400–3,000 words) in length, due at our last class meeting, Thursday May 2. These essays will be submitted both in hard copy and in electronic form as a pdf email attachment. Similarly, a one-page sketch of your paper topic and a preliminary bibliography is due on Thursday March 28. The focus of your final research project is entirely up to you, provided that it falls clearly within the core concerns of this class.

Additional Info:

Texts (available at Amherst Books on the town green)


Robert B. Strassler, Landmark Thucydides, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0684827905

Bernard Knox, tr., Sophocles, Oedipus the King, Pocket Classics, ISBN 9781416500339

Robert Meagher, The Essential Euripides, Bolchazy-Carducci, ISBN 0865165130

Robert Meagher, Herakles Gone Mad, Olive Branch/Interlink, ISBN 1566566355

Paul Roche, tr., Aristophanes: The Complete Plays, Penguin, ISBN 0451214099


Donald Kagan, The Peloponnesian War, Penguin, ISBN 0142004375

Donald Kagan, "Introduction to Ancient Greek History"
[online lectures (video,audio, and transcripts]

Victor Davis Hanson, A War Like No Other, Random House, ISBN 0812969707

Other readings and resources will be available for download or streaming on the class Moodle site. For purposes of in-class discussions, students should either print out these readings and bring their copies to class or else bring their own substantial notes on the readings.

Plays to read:

c.428               Sophocles                    Oedipus the King

c.426               Euripides                     Hekabe

425                  Aristophanes              Acharnians

424                  Aristophanes              Knights

c.423               Euripides                    Herakles

421                  Aristophanes              Peace

415                  Euripides                    Trojan Women

414                  Aristophanes              Birds

412                  Euripides                    Helen

411                  Aristophanes              Lysistrata

404                  Euripides                    Iphigenia at Aulis

Italics indicate available videos

Policy on Cell Phones and Laptop Computers:

As a courtesy to your instructors and classmates, please turn off your cell phone for the duration of the class. If your phone rings, you will have to bring cookies for everyone to share in the next class. Open laptops are not permitted in class.


If any member of this class has a diagnosed disability, please notify the instructor at the beginning of the term so that special assistance or provisions might be arranged for full participation in and completion of this course. Any accommodations for disabilities are dependent on this prior notification and must be negotiated through CASA and the Office for Disabilities Services.