This course explores the varieties of political experience and ideas in the ancient Greek world,
focusing on the Classical era. We’ll consider different regime types (kingship, tyranny,
democracy, oligarchy), places (Athens, Sparta, Crete, Syracuse, and beyond Hellas, Persia,
Carthage, and Egypt), political forms (city-state, nation, alliance, empire), institutions (assembly,
council, courts, offices) and persons (political leader or “demagogue,” citizen, woman, foreign
resident, slave). The readings are broadly chronological and include a wide variety of sources:
epic and elegiac poetry, tragic and comic drama, history, inscriptions, speeches, pamphlets, and
philosophy. Throughout, we’ll keep an eye on the similarities and differences between ancient
Greek and modern political ideas and practices, particularly as they relate to three key themes:
political agency, democracy, and justice.
This course was originally listed as PS116 for Spring 2022. As of 10/22/21, PS116W will be used.
Twelve c.200-word online discussion posts (20%); three one-page memos, (50%); a final c. 3000-word paper (30%).