Course Objectives

Ancient historians provide crucial insight into the political, social, moral, and economic foundations of the societies in which they lived and about which they wrote. This course provides a survey of Greek and Roman historians, from the sublime to the ridiculous. We will focus on three areas of inquiry:

     1. Why did the ancients write history?
     2. How did the ancients write history?
     3. What do the ancient historians tell us about who they were and what they believed?

Let's start by reading selections of what the ancients themselves thought they were doing: Ancient Historians on History. Students are expected to become intimately familiar with these passages.


We will read intensively from four major ancient historians, less intensively from four others:

Our four major authors:

     Herodotus, The Histories
     Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
     Livy, The Early History of Rome
     Sallust, The Conspiracy of Catiline

Our other four authors:

     Xenophon, Hellenica
     Polybius, The Histories
     Casesar, The Civil Wars
     Tacitus, The Annales


A detailed syllabus of the class may be found here.

Assignments, Examinations and Grading

This course will consist partly of lectures, partly of discussion. The lectures will be supplementary to the readings. The discussions will be designed to probe various aspects of the stories and analyses of the ancient historians and students are expected to have prepared (i.e., digested and pondered) the assigned text and to participate in a critique of its meaning and broader implicatons. All reasoned views are welcome.

Students will write two papers. Some thought is expected. Good writing is appreciated. Correct grammar is required.
     1) The first paper (due at the time of the mid-term exam) will be on a minor historian. The list of minor historians, with links to their texts, may be found here. The paper will analyze the historian and answer the three questions posed above.
     2) The second paper (due on the last day of class) will be an article critique. A list of sample articles may be found here. Here are some guidelines for the critique. There are many other articles available and students should feel free to search them out as their interests may lead them. Articles not on the list must be submitted for approval and may not be less than 15 pages in length.

Further details on the two papers will be provided in class.

There will be a mid-term and a final. These will consist of short identification of events, people, and places drawn from our readings. The identification items will be identified in advance, week by week, and posted with the syllabus. The exams will also contain essay questions drawn from the Discussion Questions posted with each week's reading. The exams will not be cumulative.

The papers will count 20% each, the mid-term 30% and the final 30%.

The Instructor

William L. Carey, Esq.
Blankingship & Keith, P.C.
4020 University Drive, Suite 300
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
703-620-6377 (home)

Office hours: I'll announce my office hours in class. Apart from office hours on campus, I am available anytime from 8 a.m. (usually at my law office, but you can try me at home as well) until 10 p.m.


The Links

There will be many handouts in class. There are also many electronic resources, linked below. The maps are particularly recommended.

rerum ratio ordinem temporum desiderat, regionum descriptionem - Cicero


The Mediterranean Basin
The Greek World I
The Greek World II
Greece I
Greece II
Greece (with terrain)
Herodotus' World I
Herodotus' World II
Greek Dialects I
Greek Dialects II
Greek Colonization
Asia Minor
Assyrian Empire
The Persian Empire I
The Persian Empire II
The 1st Persian War
The 2nd Persian War
Attica (with Thermopylae
The Peloponnesian War I
The Peloponnesian War II

Conquests of Alexander the Great
The Hellenistic Kindgdoms I
The Hellenistic Kindgdoms II

Italy(with terrain)
Carthaginian Empire
The Second Punic War
Expansion of the Roman Republic
Caesar's Conquest of Gaul
The Civil War (49-45 B.C.)
The Roman Empire I
The Roman Empire II
The Roman Empire III (greatest extent)

Mediterranean World (blank - for practice)
Greece and Aegean (blank - for practice)


Timeline of Ancient Greek History (2000 - 86 B.C.)
A Detailed Chronology of Greek History (3000 B.C. - A.D. 1996)
Chronology of the Peloponnesian War (431-399 B.C.)
Chronology of Greek History After the Peloponnesian War (405-146 B.C.)

A Brief Chronology of Roman History
Basic Chronology of Roman History


The Julio-Claudian Family


The Persian Wars (c. 500-479 B.C.)
The Pentecontaetia (479 - 431 B.C.)
The Peloponnesian War (431 - 404 B.C.) - Martin
The Peloponnesian War (431 - 404 B.C.) - Encyclopaedia Britannica
4th Century Greece (404 - c. 350 B.C.)
The Hellenistic World (c. 350 - 63 B.C.)
Roman History (753 B.C. - A.D. 476)
The Conspiracy of Catiline (63 B.C.)

Full Texts:

Livy (Latin English French)
Sallust (Latin English French)

For reference, here's a pretty comprehensive List of Ancient Historians. Those marked with an asterisk are at least partially extant.