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The Athenian Empire


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: to be confirmed
  • Assessment: two 2500-word essays (25% each) and a 48-hour online examination (50%), with a 60% attendance requirement

    Module description

    This module aims to examine the history of the Athenian empire, from its beginnings in the 470s till its fall in 404. It will address issues of the nature of Athenian imperialism and the effects it had in the area of the Aegean in the course of the fifth century, as well as the ways through which this 'new' way of exercising power was conceptualised in the literature of the period.

    The period of the Athenian empire also coincided with what many consider the peak of Greek civilisation, namely the Periclean 'Golden age'. How important was imperialism for the achievements of fifth-century Athens? Can we really make a distinction between Athenian imperial practices and Athenian democracy? Modern scholarship has often been very uncomfortable with this close link between brutality and power on one hand, and democratic practices in the interior of the city, on the other.

    We shall closely examine texts such as Thucydides, Herodotus, comedy, tragedy and fourth-century orators, as well as epigraphic material from within and outside Athens in order to attempt to reconstruct the history of the empire and the rising notions of imperialism in Greek thought.