The Origins Of Greek Civilisation

The Course will explore the social and cultural basis of Greek civilisation, from prehistory to the emergence of the city states of the Classical era. 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 looking at the natural environment and human settlement of the Mediterranean Basin generally, and of Greece and the Aegean more specifically, in the aftermath of the last Ice Age, ten to twelve thousand years ago. We will look at human interactions with this environment, including the origins of agriculture, and the development of 'Mediterranean Polyculture' (involving the cultivation of the olive and vine, as well as cereal crops, and the domestication of sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs) around the coasts and on the islands of the Aegean Sea. We will go on to explore the rise and fall of the earliest literate communities in Bronze Age Europe: the Minoan civilisation of Crete and nearby islands; and the Mycenean civilisation of the Greek mainland.
We will consider the origins of Greek mythology, including the role played by contact between Greek communities and the more ancient literate and urban civilisations of the Near East and Egypt, from whom the Greek borrowed and adapted many of their most enduring stories about the relationships between humans and gods. Finally, we will focus on the emergence of the city-state in Iron Age Greece, and of the distinctive Greek ideas of history, philosophy, politics, literature, and drama.
By the end of this course, you should be able to:
' Explain the changing relationships between the nature of the Greek environment and landscape, and the development of human cultures around the Aegean Sea between 10,000 BCE and 400 BCE.
' Identify the key factors in the emergence, flourishing, and ultimate collapse, of Bronze Age civilisations in Greece, and on the Aegean islands.
' Contribute to a discussion on the development of the Classical Greek idea of the city (Polis), and associated concepts of history and politics.
' Define key ideas in Classical Greek literature and philosophy: including epic poetry; tragedy; comedy; moral rationalism and traditionalism; and core principles of the pre-Socratic, Platonic, and Aristotelean philosophical traditions.
' Use the knowledge gained on the course to identify aspects of ancient Greek thought that continue to influence the literature, politics, and philosophy of the modern world.

What will it be like

Each week there will be an informative talk using PowerPoint and group discussion of aspects of ancient Greek archaeology, history, mythology and literature. 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 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.

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

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Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

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.’