This course has concessions available

Aspects Of Greek Civilisation

The course will explore the social and cultural basis of Greek civilisation during the Classical and Hellenistic eras, and the development of the Greek artistic and literary traditions. Drawing on archaeological evidence, literary texts, architecture and the visual arts, it will look at the complex and shifting relationships between the present and the past in the definition and transformation of European cultures and identities.

Who is this course for

No prior knowledge is necessary but a good understanding of English is essential. If you wish to read before the course the following book is recommended: Paul Cartledge (2011) Ancient Greece - A Very Short Introduction.

What does this course cover

We begin by exploring the origins of the Greek ideas of history and geography, as expressed in the works of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, and using this as the starting point for an examination of the changing relationships between Greek states and other communities (Egyptian, Phoenician, Persian, Scythian, the 'Barbarian' cultures of western and northern Europe) between 600 and 200 BCE. The course will include a detailed examination of two key texts: Homer's Iliad and Odyssey; focusing on the changing context and understanding of these texts over time. We will examine Greek understandings of nature, and of the human body, before concluding with a consideration of the conquests of Alexander the Great, and of the transformation of Greek culture in Ptolemaic Egypt.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:
- Explain the changing relationships between Greek states and neighbouring communities and cultures between 600 and 200 BCE.
- Identify the key traditions in Greek art of the period (Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic sculpture; black and red figure ceramics).
- Contribute to a discussion on the central themes of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey (including the relationships between people and gods; the nature of human leadership; the role of 'fate'), and consider the ways in which the understanding and expression of these themes changed over time.
- Explore the transformations of cultural life in Europe resulting from the conquests of Alexander the Great, and the expansion of the Hellenistic world.
- Use the knowledge gained on the course to identify aspects of Classical and Hellenistic Greek thought that continue to influence the literature, politics, and philosophy of the modern world.

What will it be like

In most weeks there will be an informative talk using PowerPoint and group discussion of aspects of ancient Greek archaeology, history, mythology and literature: there will also be museum visits, and readings/discussions of key texts. You will be encouraged to share your thoughts and ideas in a relaxed and friendly environment. Occasionally homework reading will be provided. Although this is not an accredited course leading to a formal qualification, you will be encouraged to complete a self-assessment form in which you can monitor your progress.

What else do you need to buy or do

You are asked to purchase copies of the following texts (available from high street book stores, and from Amazon - new or second hand): The Iliad, translated by Robert Fagles (Penguin Classics); The Odyssey, translated by Dominic Rieu (Penguin Classics). You also are advised to bring note-taking materials to all sessions.

What this course could lead to

You might consider enrolling on other history/history of art/literature/philosophy courses run by the Centre.

mwc logo

I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student


This course has concessions available for people who meet certain criteria

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Unavailable Classes:

Why come to Mary Ward Centre?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening or weekend to suit your timetable.

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’