Skip to main content


CAC1014 : Tragedy, Comedy, History: The World of Greek Literature

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Athanassios Vergados
  • Lecturer: Dr Susanna Phillippo, Dr Arianna Gullo
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The aims of this module are:
1.To introduce students to key authors/genres and the literary culture of Ancient Greece.
2. To train students in essential skills of literary analysis, and develop flexibility in the application of these skills to the details of a range of texts.
3. To introduce students to certain key issues of Ancient Greek society which are reflected in Greek literature.
4. To equip students to understand some of the connections between Greek literature and its social/cultural context.

Outline Of Syllabus

Greek literature is said to be the cornerstone of Western culture: it has been interpreted, adapted, even twisted to fit as many different contexts. But what was its original context? What sort of people were they, with what expectations and what preoccupations, who originally composed, heard, watched or (more rarely) read the masterpieces of Greek literature?

This module sets out to explore the world to which Greek literature originally belonged, a world where ‘high literature’ wasn't just the province of an intellectual élite; and to investigate, through a cross-section of works, the connections between the Greeks’ literature and what we can surmise about their way of life. There may also be the opportunity to consider the impact Greek literature has had when it has travelled beyond its own culture and influenced readers and writers of other times and places.

All texts are studied in translation. No previous knowledge of the Ancient World is required.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion861:0086:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading691:0069:00Engagement with lecture-related materials (e.g. module reading list).
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00Seminars (discussion/analysis of select materials)
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities121:0012:00Two hours preparation for each seminar.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:002:00Essay writing workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:002:00'Hands-on' session on drama
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures introduce students to important issues concerning ancient Greek literature and its social/cultural context, as well as the methodologies used when interpreting them and important scholarly discussions. They further hone students' listening and note-taking skills.

Seminars will be discussion-focused and will allow students to practise the skills/methodologies demonstrated in lectures by zooming in on select excerpts from Greek literary texts and relevant secondary literature. Seminar materials and discussions will be keyed to the first assessment component (essay)

Essay writing workshops are geared towards assessment preparation: workshop 1 will address the question "How to research and write an essay?"; workshop 2 will introduce students to the process of identifying, and critically engaging with, secondary literature.
The 'hands-on' workshop on drama will enable students to reflect on the performance on Greek tragedy/comedy.

The Drop-in/surgery is likewise assessment oriented and will allow students to ask questions on the second assessment component (exam).

Sessions will be held in-person unless covid-related guidance prevents us from doing so. In this case we will hold class meetings as synchronous on-line sessions via Zoom.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Digital Examination1201A60Inspera
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M401,500 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MShort reflective exercises on a piece of secondary literature; 300 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written examination assesses students' factual knowledge of ancient Greek literature, their understanding of methodologies required in interpreting Greek literary texts and inscribing them into their cultural context, and their problem-solving skills.

The essay assesses students' ability to interpret ancient literary texts, engage with relevant secondary literature, as well as their written communication skills.

All assessed work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

The formative assessment is conceived as preparatory work for the two workshops and is intended to reinforce the methodologies required in order to succeed in the assessments, esp. the engagement with secondary literature.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.

Reading Lists