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Module

CAC3050 : History, Literature and Truth: the case of the ancient historians: Stage 3

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Jakob Wisse
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

The Greek and Roman historians, from Herodotus to Tacitus and beyond, are very similar but also very different from modern historians. They are our main sources for ancient history (‘what happened’ etc.) but also great literary writers. What does this mean if we want to use them as historical sources, and if we want to look at them as literary texts? This module looks at about six of the great ancient historians to see what they thought about truth, about the proper way of writing history, etc.; and to see how we must interpret them both as historians and as literary writers.

The aims of this module are:
1. To make students aware of the actual nature of ancient historical writing, and of the ways in which the ancient historians can be best approached.
2. To encourage students to think critically about the nature of historical writing in general.

Outline Of Syllabus

We will study selections from historians, usually the following six – widely different in their personalities and approaches:
•       Herodotus, sometimes called “the father of history” but sometimes “the father of lies”
•       Thucydides, the merciless chronicler of the Peloponnesian War
•       Polybius, who described the rise of the Roman empire and claimed to write the first “global history”
•       Sallust, the pessimistic historian of Rome’s “moral decline”
•       Livy, author of a complete history of Rome from its foundation to his own time in 142 books
•       Tacitus, whose suggestive portraits have shaped our ideas about most early Roman Emperors

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Reading Lists

Timetable