Athens to Alexander

Dickson College, Semester 2, 2012

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16
Class Files

Unit Outline
BSSS Policy and Procedures
CLIO Learning Materials online. Athens to Alexander.
This link provides teachers and students with study material for "Athens to Alexander" and an outline of the Unit content.

Athens to Alexander on ClioMinoan Religion and the Ancient Greeks
Tom Hermes, 2011

Landscape and Destiny in Asia Minor
Frazer Brown, ANU, 2011

Slavery in Ancient Greece
Ursula Cliff, 2009

The Treatment of Athenian Slaves
Cait Smith, 2011

The Nature of Athenian Democracy
Nick Ewbank, 2009

The Greek Victory at Marathon
Emily Hood, 1995

The Persian Wars
Frazer Brown, 2009

The Graeco-Persian Wars Compared
James Batchelor, 2009

The Origins of the Peloponnesian War
Robert Joseph, 2009

Plato’s Critique of Democracy
Tom Hermes, 2011

Alexander's Macedonian Army
Lachlan McColl, 2007
Important DatesAugust 20 (Monday, Week 5): In-Class Essay
September 17 (Monday, Week 9): Document Test
September 20 (Thursday, Week 9): Parent-Teacher Evening
October 18 (Thursday, Week 11): Essay Draft Due
October 29 (Monday, Week 13): Essay Due
November 22 (Testing Week): Oral Presentations

Essay Resources Page Username and password required: email

ResourcesInternet Ancient History Sourcebook: Greece

Guide to Grammar & Writing
DC Library
DC Library History Page
Online Etymology Dictionary
Forvo: the pronunciation guide
The complete guide to Harvard Referencing
Textual references
Reference generator - Harvard system
Inserting quotes into essays
How to write a bibliography
See the PPT on annotated bibliographies
A Guide to Citing Sources in Classics
The Persian Wars, Donald Kagan
Themistocles, Jona Lendering
The Decree of Themistocles
The Troezen Decree
Introduction to Ancient Greek History, Donald Kagan, Open Yale Courses
Real Clear History
BBC History
Critics and Critiques of Athenian Democracy, Paul Cartledge
How ‘Great’ Was Alexander?, Professor Ian Worthington (University of Missouri-Columbia)
Alexander the Great Exhibition, ABC Radio National Breakfast
Alexander the Great - 2000 Years of Treasures
He Found the Real Alexander, Peter Green, New York Review of Books, November 22, 2012

Tom's Contact DetailsOffice - Room N39
Email -
Phone - 62056481

Week 1 (23 - 27 July)


To begin the unit, I wanted to find out a little about what you know of ancient Greece and what you're curious about. You filled out sheets individually and we discussed your answers as a class. To whet our appetites for this fascinating subject, we listened to an episode of Late Night Live (ABC Radio National) called The dark side of democracy's birthplace: revisiting ancient Athens. One point we noted is that what Athenians meant by democracy was very different to what we mean by the term.

I began today by reflecting some of the themes in what you wrote on the formative assessment sheet I gave you yesterday. Lots of people mentioned Greek mythology as something that they both knew about and wanted to learn more of. I'll strive to work this in to our programme. Quite a number of people said they didn't know much about the workings of Athenian democracy. Don't worry, we'll address this! As far as things people find difficult in History, there was an array of responses. However, a number of people wrote that they didn't like empathetic responses. The good news is that this won't be an assessment task we do this semester.

The purpose of this lesson is to give you a basic understanding about the geography and social structure of ancient Greece. (Having this basic information will be really important and helpful when we start exploring more narrow topics in greater depth). Using Bradley, Ancient Greece Using Evidence (pp. 1 – 13), make brief notes (short dot points) on the following topics.

- Landform (characteristics and effects)
- The sea (characteristics and effects)
- Climate (characteristics and effects)
- The dark ages (1100 – 800 BC)
- The polis
- Features which unified the Greeks

Before lunch, we discussed the points you had made on each topic. After lunch, we did a fun quiz to check some of the the knowledge you have gained: Mr. Dowling's Interactive Quiz on Ancient Greece.

In the last part of the lesson, we watched 'The Revolution', from the PBS documentary series, The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization. In the part we had time to watch today it described the context of 6th Century Greece and introduced the figure of Kleisthenes (who was pivotal in the democratic revolution of 508 BCE). We will continue watching this episode on Thursday as it portrays the birth of democracy.


We began this lesson with this PowerPoint. Firstly, we discussed the major points we'd picked up from the segment of the documentary we watched on Tuesday. Secondly, I gave a brief overview of the the period of Peisistratid rule in Athens (circa 561 - 510 BC) and the democratic revolution in 508 BC in which Kleisthenes was a leading figure. In the second half of the lesson, we watched an excerpt from episode 2, 'The Golden Age', from the PBS series, The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization. This covered the Persian Wars (490 BC and 480/479BC). It started with the story of Pheidippides, who is reported to have run from Marathon to Sparta to seek help against the Persians. Next week, we will examine the extant sources in relation to Pheidippides and investigate the veracity of this story and others about him. The documentary also focused on Themistocles who fought in the first war and was a chief advocate for the development and use of a naval fleet that was so important in the second. We will also look more closely at Themistocles and the debates in the newly democratic Athens in the 480s.

Week 2 (30 July - 3 August)


Today I gave out the unit outline. We then revised what I had told you last Thursday about the origins of Athenian democracy. I then introduced you to Herodotus, the major source on the Persian Wars and 'the father of History', and to the Persian Empire. You might find this map helpful in regard to the latter -Map of the Persian Empire and Greece.


I began today by explaining how Athenian involvement in the Ionian revolt in the 490s - particularly their contribution to the sacking of Sardis and the burning of the temple of the goddess Cybele - provoked the ire of the Persians. Darius is said to have prayed "Grant O god, that I may punish the Athenians". He is even reputed to have commanded a servant to repeat the line "Master, remember the Athenians" when he dined each night (Herodotus V: 105). We then closely analysed sources on Pheidippides and the marathon - using OMADBOOTLACE - to see what we really know about him.

This needs to be added to the excerpt from Herodutus in the sources on Pheidippides:
"The Persians accordingly sailed round Sunium. But the Athenians with all possible speed marched away to the defence of their city, and succeeded in reaching Athens before the appearance of the barbarians: and as their camp at Marathon had been pitched in a precinct of Hercules, so now they encamped in another precinct of the same god at Cynosarges. The barbarian fleet arrived, and lay to off Phalerum, which was at that time the haven of Athens; but after resting awhile upon their oars, they departed and sailed away to Asia." (Herodotus, Book VI)

Pheidippides' Heroic Journey by J. D. Muhly
The Myth of Pheidippides and the Marathon by Denis Cummings


Week 3 (6 - 10 August)

Monday: Year 12 AST Trial, classes as per normal for Year 11 students and A students

This morning I gave you a presentation on what I think, on the basis of the sources, is most probably true in regard to Pheidippides. The most important aspect of this presentation - and the exercise you did on Thursday - is not the conclusion but the process of carefully assessing the reliability of evidence. If you haven't posted your response to the question on Thursday, please do so as soon as possible.

Tuesday: Year 12 AST Trial, classes as per normal for Year 11 students and A students

In Week 1, we watched an excerpt from episode 2, 'The Golden Age', from the PBS series, The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization. This lesson, we watched it again for two reasons. Firstly, now that we know a lot more about Pheidippides, it was valuable to check how much the documentary accords with what we know from the ancient sources. Secondly, it gave us a very nice introduction to Themistocles who we will be focusing on for the next week or so. See 'Notes on The Golden Age [PBS]' for my notes on the questions I set you. After lunch, you wrote in response to the following: 'Write a (short) biography of Themistocles. As you relate the events of his life, comment on what they indicate about Athens and her democracy.' When we discussed your answers at the end of the lesson, we focused particularly on the institution of ostracism. Ostracism was a process where Athenians voted annually on whether to banish any citizen from Attica. The word derives from the ostraka - the sherds of pottery on which the names of candidates for ostracism were scratched. We speculated that ostracism could serve as a defence mechanism against the rise of a tyrant but also could be subject to abuse by malicious factions.

Homework: People who haven't yet posted their response to the question on Pheidippides (see Thursday, Week 2) please do so by this Thursday. You're more than welcome to draw on my PPT from yesterday's lesson.


This afternoon we read the above extract from Plutarch on Themistocles. We also read pp. 134 - 137 of Bradley (2001), Ancient Greece Using Evidence. As we read, we discussed and answered the questions in 'Plutarch & Bradley on Themistocles.doc'.

Week 4 (13 - 17 August)

NB: Students who studied the Ancient Mediterranean & Mesopotamia unit (and others) might be interested in 'The Bible's Buried Secrets' currently on SBS On Demand &/or
How Did Writing Begin?: Tony Sagona, a lecture given in the context of The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia exhibition currently being held at the Melbourne Museum.


This morning I took you through this PowerPoint Presentation on how Athenian democracy worked in practice. As I emphasised, the extent of citizen participation in the political process is really remarkable. In depicting the functioning of the ecclesia (the assembly), I read a short excerpt from Aristophanes' play, The Archarnians (425 BC). You can read it here. The excerpt I read is right at the beginning of the play.

The in-class essay will be next Monday. I will distribute a notice about this task tomorrow. The essay questions will be on the work we have done in weeks 1 - 4. Two major topics have been a) Pheidippides and b) Themistocles. You should prepare by revising the work we've done in class.


Today, I distributed a notice about the in-class essay next Monday. We talked through it and you had an opportunity to ask questions. Please note that you will be expected to employ correct referencing conventions (although you don't need to include a bibliography). Use the 'Essay Style Guide' PowerPoint Presentation to ensure you understand how to do this.

In 483 BC the Athenian assembly, on the urgings of Themistocles, determined to devote revenues from a recently discovered silver mine to the building of a large fleet of triremes. Before lunch, you drew up a list of arguments for and against this decision. After lunch, we conducted a mock Athenian assembly in which the proposal to build a fleet was debated. Unfortunately, after extensive debate, the motion failed. It appeared the majority of the assembly preferred the immediate benefits of a 10 drachma payment. Rather than defeating the Persians in 480/479 BC and flourishing throughout the 5th Century, Athens is now at risk of becoming a provincial outpost in the Persian Empire!

Thursday: Moderation Day (no classes)

Week 5 (20 - 24 August)

Monday: In-Class Essay

In the first half of this lesson I presented an overview of the period between the Battle of Salamis (479 BC) and the building of the Parthenon (begun in the 440s). Salamis was by no means the last battle of the Second Persian War and even after the war, Greek-Persian conflict continued to 448 BC. To counter the ongoing threat, the Athens-led Delian League was formed. Over time, this defence pact between Greek allies evolved in to a fig-leaf for Athenian imperialism. Indeed, the Athenians used funds paid by other Greek city-states into the treasury of the Delian League to pay for Pericles' ambitious building programme.

After lunch, we had a close look at Plutarch's account of argument between the Athenians about the merits (or lack thereof) of Pericles' building programme - and the use of their allies' money to finance it.

This afternoon we watched a segment of episode 2, 'The Golden Age', from the PBS series, The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization. The documentary covered similar ground to that which we traversed on Tuesday and thus allowed you to consolidate your understanding of the Delian League, Pericles, and the reconstruction of the acropolis, particularly the building of the Parthenon. It also introduced a wonderful Athenian invention: theatre. (We'll look closely at at the origins and nature of Greek theatre in weeks 7 and 8).

Week 6 (27 - 31 August)

The Parthenon
Parthenon frieze
The Architecture and Sculpture of the Parthenon

Explain, in your own words, what the Parthenon was and why it was an amazing architectural achievement. Use the resources above and your own research. Use Google images to aid your understanding. Please submit your answer in hard copy or by email - - by the end of the lesson.

We began today by briefly reviewing what you found out about the Parthenon yesterday. I also showed you the clip below which depicts the history of the Parthenon over the millenia. After watching it, we discussed the controversy over the 'Elgin marbles'. You can read the British Museum's position on this issue here.

We then looked at Pericles' famous funeral oration as it is portrayed in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian Wars.

In the last twenty minutes of the lesson, we started looking at an explanation of why the Peloponnesian Wars began by listening to some of the lecture below by Yale professor Donald Kagan.


- In-class essays should be marked and returned to you by Monday.
- Next week, Year 12s will be away on Tuesday for the AST and Year 11s will be away on Thursday for their AST trial. It's imperative that you check the class page next week to see what work you missed.
- Document test Thursday week 8. I'll give you a notice about what to do to prepare next week but, essentially, you need to be on top of what we've done in class.
- We will continue to look at the Peloponnesian War shortly. This lesson we looked more deeply at the argument about whether the British Museum should return the 'Parthenon sculptures' to Greece. We read the cases made on the web sites of the Greek Ministry of Culture and the British Museum and you wrote up an adjudication.

Week 7 (3 - 7 September)


Over the last couple of weeks we have been looking at Pericles and the Parthenon. Over the next week or so we're going to look at another aspect of the cultural flourishing of 5th century Athens: theatre. The presentation and handout above (from Robert Cohen, Theatre, Mayfield Pub. Co., 1996) explain how theatre evolved, in the 6th century, out of a religious chant/dance known as a choric dithyramb. I asked you to answer the following questions as you read the excerpt from Cohen:
1) Explain, in your own words, the choric dithyramb.
2) Evaluate the importance of Thespis in the origins of theatre.
3) How did the increase in the number of actors allow increased complexity in the drama?
4) Explain the tetralogy and its elements.

Year 12s will be away on Tuesday for the AST and Year 11s will be away on Thursday for their AST trial. Good luck! To keep up with Athens to Alexander, it's imperative that you check the class page to see what work you missed.

Tuesday: Year 12 AST. Classes as per normal for Year 11 students and A students
Lysistrata by Aristophanes (translated from the Greek)

The Peloponnesian War was fought between Athens (and her allies in the Delian League) and Sparta (and her allies in the Peloponnesian League). It began in 431 and ended in Spartan victory in 404. The fundamental cause of the war was long-standing rivalry between Athens and Sparta for dominance over Greece. A number of incidents in the late 430s involving their respective allies finally caused Sparta to effectively declare war on Athens. Under the leadership of Pericles, the Athenians withdrew behind their walls and refused to meet the Spartans in a land battle. Instead the Athenian fleet raided the coast of the Peloponnesus. However, in 429 a plague struck Athens and in the crowded conditions behind the city walls, it killed a third of the Athenian population, including Pericles.

In 411, with the war two decades old, a comedy called Lysistrata was performed in Athens. The play imagines the women of Greece seeking to end the war by means of a sex-strike. This lesson we read a number of sections from the play.

NB: Year 12s - we will look at Lysistrata on Thursday.

Thursday: Year 11 AST Trial. Class as per normal for Year 12 students and A students
This afternoon, the Year 12s caught up on what the year 11s did on Tuesday; we read sections of Lysistrata.

Week 8 (10 - 14 September)

I'm away today. On Thursday afternoon there will be a document test on the work we've done in weeks 5 - 8. Please use this lesson to revise all the work we've done over that period. Focus on: Plutarch’s Pericles; Pericles’ funeral oration (Thucydides); the excerpts from the Greek Ministry of Culture and the British Museum on the dispute over the Parthenon sculptures; Robert Cohen, Theatre (1996) on the origins of Greek theatre; Lysistrata by Aristophanes


Unfortunately, I'm away again today. Please read the document test notice carefully. Use your time to prepare for the test on Thursday.

DOCUMENT TEST POSTPONED TO MONDAY as I was away earlier in the week and this has affected your preparation. This afternoon we talked through the 'Document Test Notice' (see above) to ensure you're clear on what to expect.

Then I asked you the question: 'What does Lysistrata reveal about the status of Athenian women?' You responded with some interesting insights into the play: for instance, the fairly casual view of rape was noted. It was also observed that the need to employ a sex-strike to influence events was symptomatic of women's lack of formal political power. To develop our thinking on this topic we read an essay by Sarah Ruden, who has completed a modern translation of the play. Ruden's commentary revealed that Athenian women were expected to stay indoors; wear a veil when they did go outdoors; and that misogyny was very prevalent amongst Athenian men. In this light, the farcical nature of Lysistrata becomes clearer. The very idea of women being forthright and outspoken, like Lysistrata is, would have been humorous in itself in this historical context.

Week 9 (17 - 21 September)

Monday: Document Test


Excerpt A

Q1. “And how will they proceed? Will each bring the result of his labors into a common stock?— the individual husbandman, for example, producing for four, and laboring four times as long and as much as he need in the provision of food with which he supplies others as well as himself; or will he have nothing to do with others and not be at the trouble of producing for them, but provide for himself alone a fourth of the food in a fourth of the time, and in the remaining three-fourths of his time be employed in making a house or a coat or a pair of shoes, having no partnership with others, but supplying himself all his own wants?”

In your own words, describe the dilemma or choice that is being put here.

Q2. It is agreed in the dialogue that a worker will be more efficient when he only has one occupation. What reasons are given for this?

Excerpt B

Q3. In this excerpt, Plato is making the argument that the city should be ruled by specialised philosopher-kings. Explain this argument.

Excerpt C

Q4. What does the allegory of the cave have to do with Plato’s belief that the city should be ruled by the philosophers?

Excerpt D

Q5. “Which of the two classes should be the rulers of our State?” Who are the two classes? Which class does Plato think should rule the state? Why?

Material from/on Plato's Republic

Except for the excerpt from Wikipedia, the following material is from the Republic
by Plato (Translated by Benjamin Jowett). It includes analysis on each chapter that might help.

Excerpt A: Book II The Individual, the State, and Education

And now let us see how our city will be able to supply this great demand: We may suppose that one man is a husbandman, another a builder, someone else a weaver — shall we add to them a shoemaker, or perhaps some other purveyor to our bodily wants?

Quite right.

The barest notion of a State must include four or five men.


And how will they proceed? Will each bring the result of his labors into a common stock?— the individual husbandman, for example, producing for four, and laboring four times as long and as much as he need in the provision of food with which he supplies others as well as himself; or will he have nothing to do with others and not be at the trouble of producing for them, but provide for himself alone a fourth of the food in a fourth of the time, and in the remaining three-fourths of his time be employed in making a house or a coat or a pair of shoes, having no partnership with others, but supplying himself all his own wants?

Adeimantus thought that he should aim at producing food only and not at producing everything.

Probably, I replied, that would be the better way; and when I hear you say this, I am myself reminded that we are not all alike; there are diversities of natures among us which are adapted to different occupations.

Very true.

And will you have a work better done when the workman has many occupations, or when he has only one?

When he has only one.

Excerpt B: Book II The Individual, the State, and Education

And the shoemaker was not allowed by us to be a husbandman, or a weaver, or a builder — in order that we might have our shoes well made; but to him and to every other worker was assigned one work for which he was by nature fitted, and at that he was to continue working all his life long and at no other; he was not to let opportunities slip, and then he would become a good workman. Now nothing can be more important than that the work of a soldier should be well done. But is war an art so easily acquired that a man may be a warrior who is also a husbandman, or shoemaker, or other artisan; although no one in the world would be a good dice or draught player who merely took up the game as a recreation, and had not from his earliest years devoted himself to this and nothing else?
No tools will make a man a skilled workman or master of defence, nor be of any use to him who has not learned how to handle them, and has never bestowed any attention upon them. How, then, will he who takes up a shield or other implement of war become a good fighter all in a day, whether with heavy-armed or any other kind of troops?
Yes, he said, the tools which would teach men their own use would be beyond price.
And the higher the duties of the guardian [ruler], I said, the more time and skill and art and application will be needed by him?

No doubt, he replied.

Will he not also require natural aptitude for his calling?


Then it will be our duty to select, if we can, natures which are fitted for the task of guarding [ruling] the city?

It will.

And the selection will be no easy matter, I said; but we must be brave and do our best.

We must.

Excerpt C:

Plato lets Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato's Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.

Excerpt D: Book VI The Philosophy of Government

And what is the next question? he asked.

Surely, I said, the one which follows next in order. Inasmuch as philosophers only are able to grasp the eternal and unchangeable, and those who wander in the region of the many and variable are not philosophers, I must ask you which of the two classes should be the rulers of our State?

And how can we rightly answer that question?

Whichever of the two are best able to guard the laws and institutions of our State — let them be our guardians [rulers].

Very good.

Neither, I said, can there be any question that the guardian who is to keep anything should have eyes rather than no eyes?

There can be no question of that.

And are not those who are verily and indeed wanting in the knowledge of the true being of each thing, and who have in their souls no clear pattern, and are unable as with a painter's eye to look at the absolute truth and to that original to repair, and having perfect vision of the other world to order the laws about beauty, goodness, justice in this, if not already ordered, and to guard and preserve the order of them — are not such persons, I ask, simply blind?

Truly, he replied, they are much in that condition.

And shall they be our guardians [rulers] when there are others who, besides being their equals in experience and falling short of them in no particular of virtue, also know the very truth of each thing?

There can be no reason, he said, for rejecting those who have this greatest of all great qualities; they must always have the first place unless they fail in some other respect.

Plato: The Failure of Democracy


This afternoon I distributed the essay task and explained what's required. Please make a decision about which question you would like to do, by Monday. We then reviewed what you learnt last lesson about Plato. We looked closely at the questions I posed and some strong answers that were submitted by you (see PPT below). The video below that is a great way of accessing Plato's allegory of the cave. We discussed the paradox that one of the most famous Athenians, Plato, opposed Athens' greatest invention - democracy. Plato believed in the very opposite of democracy: a society run by specialised philosopher-kings, expert in ruling. To understand this view we will look at two historical incidents. On Tuesday, former Dickson College history teacher, John Hood, will give a special masterclass on the trial of the generals in 406 BC. This lesson, we started looking at the trial of Socrates in 399 BC by watching a further excerpt from Empires: The Greeks, episode 3 'Empire of the Mind'.

Parent-Teacher Evening, Thursday 20th of September, Dickson College Hall

Week 10 (24 - 28 September)


The Apology by Plato, Translated with an introduction by Benjamin Jowett, eBooks@Adelaide 2006
Why did Plato oppose democracy? Last week we looked at Plato's anti-democratic views, as expressed in the Republic (circa 375 BC). As a class, we'll look at two historical incidents that may partly explain Plato's antagonism to democracy. Tomorrow, former Dickson College teacher, John Hood, will give us a masterclass on what's known as the trial of the generals in 406 BC. Last Thursday, the documentary introduced us to the trial of Socrates in 399 BC. Today, we looked at this event in greater depth by reading excerpts from Plato's Apology (defence). In this account, Socrates is the narrator and, appearing before an Athenian jury, first protests his innocence and when found guilty, proposes a 'punishment'. Groups were assigned excerpts which you then read and explained to the class. We concluded by reflecting on how all this might have affected Plato's impression of democracy.


The Trial of the Generals: The Athenian historian Xenophon tells us of an incident that took place a few years before the final defeat of Athens. The generals commanding the Athenian fleet, having been unable to rescue some of the shipwrecked crews after the sea battle of Arginusae, were put on trial by the people's Assembly. The incident can tell us much about the nature of Athenian democracy.

Xenophon's account of the Trial of the Generals

Do you agree with Plato (regarding his opposition to democracy)? I put this question to you this afternoon. We discussed how the trial of the generals showed the darker side of Athenian democracy. We also countenanced the possibility that when Socrates was tried in 399 BC, he was a being used as a scapegoat for Athens' misfortune.

This document outlines a step-by-step process I recommend you follow when you research and write your essay. NB: The essay task sheet states that the draft is due on 'Tuesday the 18th'. The 18th is, in fact, a Thursday and it is then that the draft is due.

Teaching break: October 1 - October 12

Week 11 (15 - 19 October)


NB: Essay draft due Thursday

This term we will be studying Alexander the Great (including the rise of Macedon under Alexander's father, Philip, and the Hellenistic empires founded when Alexander died). Firstly, you brainstormed all you knew about Alexander (which turned out to be quite a lot). I then delivered a PowerPoint Presentation giving a broad overview of Philip and Alexander's reigns and linking them to the work we did last term on 5th Century Athens. For the assessment task this term, you will be required to devise your own focus question and deliver a 10 minute speech. So I asked you, as you listened, to start reflecting on what topics make you curious.

406 BC: Trial of the generals after the Battle of Arginusae
404 BC: “After the defeat at Aegospotami, the Aegean cities passed under the control of Sparta... Thirty pro-Spartan oligarchs were set up in Athens, with a Spartan garrison.” (Bradley 2001: 281)
403 BC: “Democracy was fully restored in Athens in 403.” (Bradley 2001: 281)
399 BC: Trial and execution of Socrates
404 – 371 BC: Spartan leadership of Greece
371 – 361 BC: Theban leadership.
359 – 336 BC: Philip of Macedon
356 BC: Olympias gives birth to Alexander
343 BC: Aristotle becomes Alexander's tutor.
351 - 341 BC: The Philippics of Demosthenes
338 BC: The Battle of Chaeronea
336 BC: The death of Philip
334 BC: The Battle of the Granicus River
333 BC: The Battle of Issus
332-331 BC: The entry into Egypt
326 BC: Invasion of India
323 BC: Death of Alexander

The sources on Alexander:
- “The material written about Alexander during his lifetime and immediately after his death has been lost except for fragments, of which there are approximately 400, from thirty writers.” (Bradley 2001: 301)
- Callisthenes, nephew of Aristotle, and official historian of Alexander’s campaigns. Ultimately fell out with Alexander and was executed.
- “The five surviving sources for knowledge of Alexander – written between three and five centuries after his death – are Diodorus, Quintus Curtius, Plutarch, Justin and Arrian.” (Bradley 2001: 301)
- Arrian’s Campaigns of Alexander draws on contemporary sources, including Ptolemy and Aristobulus.
- Plutarch draws on Callisthenes, amongst others.


I introduced the famous 4th Century Athenian statesman and orator, Demosthenes, with a PowerPoint Presentation based on Demosthenes (384 - 322 B.C.) by James J. Murphy.

We then looked closely at this excerpt from the 'First Philippic' delivered by Demosthenes to the Athenian assembly in 351 B.C.E.

Despite all of Demosthenes' efforts, Athens (and the rest of Greece) fell subject to Macedonia. The Battle of Chaeronea (338 B.C.E.) was an immensely important moment in the story of Macedonian expansion. After Philip's victory, Macedon became the unrilvalled ruler of Greece. Concomitantly, the Battle of Chaeronea really marks the end of the remarkable history of Athens, as an independent city-state. This short video provides a superb explanation of the battle itself.

Demosthenes, On the Crown
Demosthenes, the First Philippic

Thursday: Essay draft due today
I will endeavour to provide feedback on essay drafts by early next week. Those who haven't submitted drafts should do so as soon as people.

I gave back the document test today. See me if you were away. Here are two general pieces of advice.

There was a disconcerting number of errors across your answers. Time was limited and you were focusing on the substance of your answers but you should make sure correct capitalisation becomes second nature to you. Proper nouns are names of particular places and people, eg. Athens, Parthenon, Pericles. Proper nouns should always be capitalised.

A more difficult and more important area to work on is the analysis of bias. As a whole, the class didn't do so well on question 4. Answers tended to outline the competing views presented in the two documents, without explaining how either was biased. Bias typically involves 1. a partial perspective (or one-sidedness) + 2. A particular agenda, motivation, interest or set of underlying values + 3. A link between 1. and 2., ie. the partiality of the portrayal or position is dictated by the motivation of its author. Bias will be manifested in things like language, tone, and the inclusion and exclusion of particular aspects of a phenomenon. From the Wikipedia entry: "Bias is an inclination to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of (possibly equally valid) alternatives. Anything biased generally is one-sided, and therefore lacks a neutral point of view. Bias can come in many forms and is often considered to be synonymous with prejudice or bigotry."

You read pages 13 - 18 of McCarty, N. (2004), Alexander the Great, Camberwell: Penguin. This provides a nice account of Demosthenes; Aristotle as teacher of Alexander; and the young Alexander and the story of how he acquired his horse, Bucephalus.

Week 12 (22 - 26 October)


- Essays: most people have submitted drafts; I will give you my feedback tomorrow. Please bring all the materials you need to work on your essay tomorrow, in the period after lunch. I'll also use that time to provide guidance about annotated bibliographies, referencing etc. and to conference with you one-on-one about your drafts.

- The story of the young Alexander and his horse, Bucephalus: For the benefit of those people who were away on Thursday, we rehearsed the story of how Alexander, as a boy, tamed a wild horse by observing that it was unsettled by its own shadow. Bucephalus (Ox-head) became Alexander's horse for the next 17 years.

- The Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC): We reminded ourselves that, under Philip, the Macedonians decisively defeated a coalition of Athens, Thebes and others. Macedon was now undisputed ruler of Greece.

- We looked at the death of Philip in 336 BC. Philip was stabbed by one of his bodyguards, by the name of Pausanius. Philip had an affair with Pausanius and it is believed this unleashed a series of events that left Pausanius humiliated and seeking revenge. But it is unclear whether Pausanius was acting alone (murder) or was incited by a political master - Olympias, Alexander or even, Darius (assassination). It was this question - Death of Philip: Murder or Assassination? - that we began investigating today.


Before lunch, we concluded our examination of the death of Philip.

I also took you through this presentation on quoting, referencing and bibliographies. Please ensure that your essay adheres strictly to the guidelines I have provided. Please use the Harvard Referencing Guide to correctly set out in-text and bibliographical references for different source types. I commented that you should NOT reference Wikipedia and other generic web sites; do not use phrase like "historians say" - you need to specify which historians; all controversial or specific claims should be referenced.

After lunch, you worked on your essay and I spoke with each of you about how you're going. You are putting yourself at a disadvantage if you do not use our essay resources page. Email me if you don't have your username and password. Those people working on the transformation from Delian League to Athenian Empire should note I've put a chapter up by Bradley. This should be very useful in itself and includes references to ancient sources that you can follow up.


At the start of this lesson, I reminded you that you shold take advantage of the resources available at the essay resources page, including the Style Guide and Harvard Referencing Guide.

This presentation covers the period from the death of Philip and the succession of Alexander to the Macedonian throne (336 BCE) to Alexander's first battle against the Persians, the Battle of the Granicus River (334 BCE).

In the clip below, Professor Kenneth Harl explains the course of the Battle of the Granicus River.

Week 13 (29 October - 2 November)

Monday: Essay due
Well done to those of you who have completed your essay. Those who haven't should email it to me by midnight to avoid a late penalty.

The well-known Michael Wood documentary 'In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great' confirmed some of what we've already learnt and introduced us to Alexander's journey down the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean. We got up to about the 38 minute mark; please finish watching it tonight. Please also come to class tomorrow with one question on Alexander or Hellenism that would be appropriate for the oral presentation task.


The Personality of Alexander the Great: Construct a psychological profile of Alexander. Include specific evidence/incidents to back up your characterisations. This should be a minimum of ¾ of a page (A4) long. Draw on all the information and evidence that we have examined this term. Consider the following.

- The influence of Olympias, Philip and Aristotle
- Plutarch and Arrian on Alexander’s physical appearance as a youth
- The story of Bucephalus
- The Battle of Chaeronea (338 BCE)
- The death of Philip; Alexander’s role and reaction
- The Battle of the Granicus River (334 BCE)
- Visit to Troy with Hephaestion and the companions
- The story of the Gordian knot
- The Battle of Issus (333 BCE)

When you have completed your profile, swap it with somebody else who has finished. Correct any errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar that you find.

I distributed the oral presentation task after lunch. The whole class will deliver the presentation in testing week on Thursday 22/11 (Week 16). Your speech should be 10 minutes long and PowerPoint Presentations are NOT allowed. You should use palm cards. A key challenge is to devise your own focus question. Please submit a proposed focus question to me in writing on Thursday (using the form above). It's important to determine your question promptly so you have plenty of time to research and prepare your presentation. It's also important the question is well formulated. In devising your question, consider the following criteria:

- This question can be comprehensively researched prior to November 22.
- This question can be answered effectively in a 10 minute speech.
- There is sufficient evidence and information on this topic.
- This question invites an argumentative (rather than descriptive) answer.

In groups of three, you brainstormed questions. Here are some that you came up with.

- What was Alexander’s main objective when he began his invasion of Asia Minor?
- How was Alexander able to rally support in Macedonia after Philip’s death?
- Is the story of Bucephalus true?
- In what ways did Aristotle influence Alexander?
- What was the nature of Alexander's Asian Empire?
- How did Alexander maintain control over territories he had conquered?
- How did Philip’s affection for Cleopatra affect his rule of Macedonia?
- Why was Alexander ruthless to Thebes but merciful to Athens?
- How decisive was the Battle of Chaeronea?
- What kind of relationship did Alexander share with Philip?
- How did Alexander die?
- How did the Macedonians triumph over Darius at the Battle of Issus?
- Was Philip murdered or assassinated?

Please submit a proposed focus question to me in writing on Thursday (using the form above).


You submitted your focus question proposals this afternoon. I will return them on Monday with my response. If you haven't submitted your proposed question yet, please do so as soon as possible. On Tuesday, we reflected on Alexander's personality. Today, we continued that focus by exploring Alexander's sexuality. We considered two questions. Was Alexander bisexual? Does it matter?

1. I gave you and a partner one of the following articles to read.
Sexuality and Alexander by Jed Untereker, James Kossuth and Bill Kelsey
Alexander The Great: Gay or Straight?, Bruce Upbin, Forbes, 2/10/2011
Was Alexander the Great bisexual? Does it matter? by Dr. Craig Johnson, Bible History Online
Homosexuality in Ancient Greece, Wikipedia

2. We discussed our two focus questions, drawing on the insights you gleaned from the article you read.

2a. Was Alexander bisexual?
- "it is generally accepted that he had a preference for men..." but we are "without a lot of information" (Untereker, Kossuth and Kelsey)
- There is a possibility Alexander and his close friend and companion, Hephaistion, were lovers. There is also a suggestion that the two saw themsleves in the same mould as the Homeric hero, Achilles, and his companion, Patroclus (Untereker, Kossuth and Kelsey).
- Mary Renault also mentions that Alexander did have a eunuch, named Bagoas, who was always cited as the king's "eromenos." ['passive' or 'subordinate' sexual partner]. (Untereker, Kossuth and Kelsey)
- "Personally, I think any attempt to categorise Alexander in terms of modern sexual identity is grossly anachronistic [chronologically misplaced], but am I not right that Alexander probably did have sex with at least one male as well as with at least two females?" (Paul Cartledge in Ulpin 2011)
- "... the evidence for a sexual relationship is firmer [in the case of Bagoas, a Persian eunuch] than in the case of Hephaestion (where there is no real evidence, but plenty of assumptions)." (James Romm in Ulpin 2011)
- "Even in the case of Bagoas – a eunuch given to Alexander as (dare I say it?) a boy toy by a Persian noble who wished to win his favor — there is some room for doubt, though I would venture to say he “counts” as a male object of Alexander’s sexual interest." (James Romm in Ulpin 2011)
- "The relationship with Bagoas is simply extraordinary, isn’t it? He was a non-Greek non-man (as the Greeks saw it) – we know from Herodotus that ordinary Greeks had a peculiar culturally driven horror of the trade in eunuchs: a Greek slave trader called Panionius (the ‘all-Ionian’!) was into this business, which Herodotus condemned as ‘unholy’. So Alexander, in having an openly acknowledged sexual relationship with him, would have been transgressing all sorts of cultural-political boundaries. I’m inclined to believe he did..." (Paul Cartledge in Ulpin 2011)
- "The evidence is carefully reviewed by Daniel Ogden in an article in the volume Alexander the Great: A New History (edd. Heckel and Tritle, 2009) — bearing out the title of the anthology by giving the first-ever in-depth discussion of Alexander’s sex life, that I am aware of. Does anyone today still follow Tarn in questioning Bagoas’ existence?" (James Romm in Ulpin 2011)
- "I’d say Stone was probably also right to imagine that Alexander had had sex with his boon companion Hephaestion, at any rate when they were younger. For ancient Greeks there was no contradiction between youthful homoeroticism and predominantly or wholly heterosexual adult proclivity and activity." (Paul Cartledge in Ulpin 2011)
- "There is no indisputable evidence for such an attachment between Alexander and Hephaestion. That evidence does exist is circumstantial only... I do think we must acknowledge that we cannot state with certainty that Alexander and Hephaestion were lovers, either as young men, or continuing throughout their lives." (Reames-Zimmerman quoted in Johnson).
- "To pretend that Alexander is a heterosexual is as eccentric as to portray him as an Italian. Anyone who did so would, once the laughter subsided, be grilled as to what in the world his ‘agenda’ might be to come up with such a premise. It mars, deforms, and perverts the character of the man portrayed, not because Italians are perverse, but because some semblance of the truth must reside at the core of any legitimate portrait, even in a novel." (Spears quoted in Johnson)
- "Our three Greek historians (Arrian, Diodorus and Plutarch) never term him erastes or eromenos, only philos or malista timomenos. Alexander himself calls him Philalexandros (friend of Alexander). Curtius and Justin use only amicus, never amans." (Reames-Zimmerman quoted in Johnson).
- "The only implication of a sexual relationship or use of the term eromenos for Hephaestion occurs in late sources or those of dubious authorship (Ael. VH 12.7, Epic. Dis. 2.12.17-18, Diog. Epistles 24, and Luc. Dial. Dead 397.)" (Reames-Zimmerman quoted in Johnson)

2b. Does it matter?
- Note that in attempting to answer this question we are forced to reflect on why the study of history is important, generally.
- One argument was made that it doesn't matter because we shouldn't judge Alexander negatively because of his sexuality.
- Another argument advanced that Alexander's sexuality is just not material to any of the accomplishments that make Alexander an important historical figure; his military conquests and cultural impact, for instance. In other words, it's an irrelevant topic.
- It was noted, particularly by those who read the Wikipedia article on homosexuality in ancient Greece, that male-male sexual relations were common. So, Alexander's sexuality might be representative of ancient Greek sexuality more generally.
- Does that matter? I suggest it does. One of the benefits of studying the past is that we often discover very different social norms to our own. This invites us to be self-reflexive and ask whether we think our own practices and values are superior or inferior or just different to this other society's. It also can enable us to see that beliefs or values that we took for granted as being held by everyone, everywhere are, in some sense, a choice our society has made.

Week 14 (5 - 9 November)



In your oral presentation:
- You should make your use of sources apparent during your speech by quoting and referring to them. Use phrases like “to quote Arrian…” and “in his biography of Alexander, Plutarch tells us that…”
- In advancing your argument, it is imperative that you examine the nature and the reliability of the evidence you adduce. Explain to the audience what the evidence is, to what extent it can be relied on and what it demonstrates (and justify these claims).

To help you do this in your presentation, we looked at Alexander the Great: the 'good' sources by Jona Lendering. Specifically, we looked at the diagram that illustrates how Plutarch and Arrian, who lived hundreds of years after Alexander, drew on Ptolemy, Nearchus, Aristobulus and, ultimately, Callisthenes. We noted key points relating to these latter sources (which no longer exist) before closely reading what Lenderer has to say about Plutarch and Arrian. In your oral you may well quote Arrian. If you do, you should also explain why he's a source worth relying on. To do this, you could mention that Plutarch drew on Ptolemy and Aristobulus and as Plutarch himself wrote "It seems to me that Ptolemy and Aristobulus are the most trustworthy writers on Alexander's conquests, because the latter shared Alexander's campaigns, and the former -Ptolemy- in addition to this advantage, was himself a king...". Lendering is very good and should be drawn on as you choose your sources and then defend those choices in your speech.

Oral Presentation Focus Questions
If you do not have a topic, you haven't made a suggestion or we haven't yet agreed on it.
Focus Question
Rifqi Adhyasa
How did Alexander the Great die?
Alex Bareham
How did Demosthenes seek to exploit the death of Philip?
Jess Bartley
What were Alexander's objectives in establishing Alexandria?
Lauren Bland
What were Alexander’s objectives in establishing Alexandria?
Nicola Buckler-Jones
What are the major Persian sources on Alexander?
Millie Burton
Who was behind the death of Philip?
Bryana Conran

Alex Ellis
Why was Alexander ruthless to Thebes but merciful to Athens?
Zac Goodwin
Who was behind the death of Philip?
Kathy Hajdu
(How) did Aristotle influence the character of Alexander?
Henry Ingham
What are the key features of Greco-Buddhist art?
Anna Leahy
Who was behind the death of Philip?
Gerard Lennox
What kind of relationship did Alexander have with Philip?
Zeb Marshall
How did Alexander use inter-marriage with Persians to enhance his authority?
Kate Osborne
Who was Hephaestion and how important was he to Alexander?
Daniel Peryman
Why did Philip exile Alexander in 337 BCE?
Pat Quinn-Quirke
What Hellenistic architectural influence can be observed at Petra?
Nic Sanchez
Was Alexander truly great?
Liam Steel
Why did Alexander adopt Persian dress?
Aidan Thompson
Is the story of Bucephalus true?
Te Whenua Waaka
Did quality of life improve for the conquered people of Alexander’s empire?
Brodie Worden
How did Alexander triumph at the Battle of Issus?
Rosie Zatschler
Why did Philip exile Alexander in 337 BCE?


Week 15 (12 - 16 November)

Alexander, ever aware of the value of good public relations and desirous of cultivating a personal mythology, has appointed you to live-tweet from the Battle of Gaugamela (331 B.C.E.). Your task:
- Read Arrian's account of the battle: Anabasis of Alexander: The Battle of Gaugamela (Book III, 7-16).
- As you do, 'tweet' 140 character (maximum) descriptions of what's happening from the perspective of a Macedonian present at the event. Tweets should generally be about what is occurring in the present.
- Use hashtags and handles and othwerwise appropriate the style of Twitter BUT your tweets must be historically valid and realistic, given Arrian's account. Quoting Arrian is welcome.

Subject Author Replies Views Last Message
Live-Tweeting the Battle of Guagamela TomGreenwell TomGreenwell 83 2283 Nov 12, 2012 by TomGreenwell TomGreenwell
Live Tweeting AlexEllis2012 AlexEllis2012 0 201 Nov 11, 2012 by AlexEllis2012 AlexEllis2012
Q5. TomGreenwell TomGreenwell 10 292 Sep 21, 2012 by GerrardLennox GerrardLennox
Q4. TomGreenwell TomGreenwell 10 534 Sep 21, 2012 by GerrardLennox GerrardLennox
Q3. TomGreenwell TomGreenwell 10 582 Sep 21, 2012 by GerrardLennox GerrardLennox
Q2. TomGreenwell TomGreenwell 10 501 Sep 21, 2012 by GerrardLennox GerrardLennox
Q1. TomGreenwell TomGreenwell 9 454 Sep 21, 2012 by GerrardLennox GerrardLennox
Extension Question TomGreenwell TomGreenwell 2 364 Aug 14, 2012 by TomGreenwell TomGreenwell
Pheidippides TomGreenwell TomGreenwell 13 1556 Aug 14, 2012 by TomGreenwell TomGreenwell

And here's how it all ended... The battle soon developed into vicious hand-to-hand fighting. When Alexander directed his Thessalian cavalry on the Persian infantry – already under attack from the Greek infantry – they panicked. Darius lost his nerve and fled the battlefield. Alexander pursued Darius but lost track as Darius found refuge in the Armenian mountains. But Alexander had triumphed at Guagamela and Darius would remain on the run until his death at the hands of his own subordinates in July, 330 B.C.E. Alexander proceeded down the Royal Road to Babylon.


Alexander Campaigns of Conquest.jpg

The objective of this double period is to learn about the main events of Alexander's campaign from the Battle of Guagemela (331 B.C.E.) to his death in 323 B.C.E. To do this we will be looking at extracts from McCarty, N. (2004), Alexander the Great, Viking: Camberwell.

You will be given an extact from McCarty and one of the questions listed below. Prepare to present your answer to the class after lunch. You should email me - - at least one PPT slide summarising your answer before lunch. Also prepare to speak to the class for 3-4 minutes. You should develop your answer by first extracting all relevant information from McCarty. You should then seek to embellish your answer by locating relevant material in the ancient sources: Plutarch: Life of Alexander; Arrian The Anabasis of Alexander; Quintus Curtius Rufus:Life of Alexander the Great. Arrian covers the Battle of Guagamela (331 B.C.E) in Book III: 8 - 16 and the Battle of the Hydaspes River (326 B.C.E) in Book V: 8 - 18. Use this information to locate the part of Arrian relevant to your question. Use the table of contents in the other sources.

- How did Alexander ‘win the peace’ in Babylon? How did he win the allegiance of Mazaeus and the Babylonians? (McCarty 2004: 86/87)
- What did Alexander find in Susa? Why did Alexander encourage his soldiers to marry local girls? (McCarty 2004: 87/88)
- How did Alexander take Persepolis? (McCarty 2004: 88 -90)
- What did Alexander find in Persepolis? (McCarty 2004: 90 – 92)
- Why was the palace at Persepolis burnt down? (McCarty 2004: 93)
- How did Darius meet his end? How and why was Bessus executed? (McCarty 2004: 99 – 101)
- What plots against Alexander materialised? How did Alexander deal with them? (McCarty 2004: 101 – 103)
- Who was Cleitus? Why did Alexander murder him? (McCarty 2004: 103 – 105)
- What course did the Battle of Hydaspes take? (McCarty 2004: 112 – 115)
- Why did Alexander decide to turn back? (McCarty 2004: 116 – 118)
- How did Alexander die? (McCarty 2004: 122 – 123)


Pat spoke about plots against Alexander; Liam and Henry presented on Alexander's murder of Cleitus; Lauren and Nicola addressed the Battle of Hydaspes (May 326 B.C.E.); Millie and Dan explained why Alexander turned back.

I explained that Alexander died in Babylon on June 11, 323 B.C.E. after suffering from a fever for about two weeks. While some ancient sources mention that he may have been poisoned, this is unlikely - poisons would have taken effect more quickly. When Alexander died, his wife Roxana was pregnant with Alexander IV. Eventually, it was agreed that Alexander's empire would be jointly ruled by Alexander IV and Alexander the Great's half-brother, Philip. However, given Alexander IV was a new-born and Philip was not of sound mind, the real rulers were a council of regents. In 321 B.C.E., one of the regents, Perdiccas, was assassinated. This set off four decades of fighting for control of the empire. In the result, it broke down into a number of dynasties: the Seleucid, Ptolemaic and Antigonid dynasties.

Week 16 (19 - 23 November)


I asked you to advise me as soon as possible if the time you have been allocated clashes with an exam for another subject. A final oral presentation schedule will be distributed tomorrow.

It's important to look back and synthesise all that we've learnt about Ancient Greece. With that in mind, I gave the above lecture on 5th Century Athens.


Here is the schedule for oral presentations on Thursday. Please arrive 5 minutes before your session is due to begin.

I concluded the lecture I began yesterday, which was an attempt to provide an overview or synthesis of the material we've covered this semester. You had an opportunity to fill out unit evaluations. Thanks for your feedback. After lunch, you spent time working on your oral presentations.

Wednesday: Cross-line testing begins
Thursday: Oral presentations.

9am - 10.30am
Kathy Hajdu
How did Aristotle influence the character of Alexander?

Anna Leahy
Who was behind the death of Philip?

Alex Ellis
Why was Alexander ruthless to Thebes but merciful to Athens?

Jess Bartley
What were Alexander's objectives in establishing Alexandria?

Rifqi Adhyasa
How did Alexander the Great die?

Kate Osborne
Who was Hephaestion and how important was he to Alexander?

11am - 12.30pm
Aidan Thompson
Is the story of Bucephalus true?

Rosie Zatschler
Why did Philip exile Alexander in 337 BCE?

Zac Goodwin
Who was behind the death of Philip?

Zeb Marshall
How did Alexander use inter-marriage with Persians to enhance his authority?

Nic Sanchez
Was Alexander truly great?

Te Whenua Waaka
Did quality of life improve for the conquered people of Alexander’s empire?

1pm - 2.30pm
Gerard Lennox
What kind of relationship did Alexander have with Philip?

Alex Bareham
How did Demosthenes seek to exploit the death of Philip?

Brodie Worden
How did Alexander triumph at the Battle of Issus?

Lauren Bland
What were Alexander’s objectives in establishing Alexandria?

Nicola Buckler-Jones
What are the major Persian sources on Alexander?

3pm - 4.30pm
Daniel Peryman
Why did Philip exile Alexander in 337 B.C.E.?

Millie Burton
Who was behind the death of Philip?

Pat Quinn-Quirke
What Hellenistic architectural influence can be observed at Petra?

Liam Steel
Why did Alexander adopt Persian dress?

Henry Ingham
What caused the fire that burnt down the Library of Alexandria?