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HIST2005 The West and the World I: Antiquity
[Not for students who had taken HIST4391]

Semester 2 (2023-2024)

Lecture TimeWednesday, 14:30 - 16:15

VenueLT3, Lady Shaw Building (LSB LT3)


Lecturer Stuart MCMANUS (

Teaching Assistant Mar TICAO (

Course Description

The ancient Mediterranean world (c. 800 BCE-250 CE) is often seen as the fountainhead of “Western” culture, but what was it really like?  This course will have two aims: to understand the core contributions (philosophical, political, literary, etc.) of the ancient Mediterranean world to later periods of “Western” history, and to understand its relationship to the rest of the world (Han China, India, ancient Near East, etc.).  To do so, we will focus on a series of “moments” (and the related sources), which either had a particular influence on later periods or display the interconnectedness of the ancient world.  It will also include a visit to the University Library to examine reproductions of ancient Western material culture.


Week 1 (Jan 10): What is the “West”?  The Key Questions of the Course

Readings: Anthony Appiah, Western Civilization; Frank Jacobs, Where is Europe?


Week 2 (Jan 17): Archaic Greece: Linear B and the East Face of Helicon

Readings: The Greek Alphabet part 1, part 2 (section 14 only); Homer Iliad (bk 1 only). 


Week 3 (Jan 24) Pre-Modern Monarchy

Readings: Hiero (all).


Week 4 (Jan 31): The Greek Polis, Warfare and Democracy

Readings: Pericles’ Funeral Oration; Old Oligarch, Constitution of the Athenians.
Quiz 1: Greek Words


Week 5 (Feb 7): Greece and the World: The Persian Wars and Alexander

Readings: Herodotus Bk. VII.138-239 (Thermopylae); Portrait of Alexander the Great.

Quiz 2: Mapping the Mediterranean


(Feb 14) Holiday – Happy Lunar New Year! 

February 16, 2:30PM – Visit to UL Special Collections Room to view museum objects.
Students who cannot attend should watch video tour


Week 6 (Feb 21): Greek Philosophy, The Many Paths to Happiness 

Readings: EITHER Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Books 1&2; OR Plato, Meno (all). 


Week 7 (Feb 28): The Etruscans

Readings: Etruscan Art; Herodotus & Livy; Polybius, II.17-25.


(Mar 6) No Class – Reading Week! 


Week 8 (Mar 13): Rome: Foundation, Growth and the Clash with Carthage

Readings: Livy, Ab urbe condita, Bk 1; Vergil, Aeneid Book 1, lines 1-33.


Week 9 (Mar 20): Rome: Republic to Principate. 

Reading: Polybius, Histories, Bk 1, ch. 1-4; Bk 6, ch. 1-18. 


Week 10 (Mar 27): Rhetoric and Cicero.  

Readings: Rhetorica ad Herennium (All of Bk 1, III.28-40 on memory); Cicero, Pro Caelio.


Week 11 (Apr 3): Rome, India and China

Pre-recorded lecture on Blackboard.

Readings: Pliny, Natural History, VI.20-39; Chinese sources on Rome


Week 12 (Apr 10): High Empire: Stoicism, Roman Architecture and the Provinces.  

Readings: Epictetus, Handbook. Tacitus, Agricola 4-21; 29-35; Burial Customs in Roman Egypt.

CTE at beginning of class. 


Week 13 (Apr 17): Roman Law, Slavery and Empire. 

Readings: XII Tables, Justinian, Institutes, 1,1-6 (persons); Institutes, 2,1-6 & 10-12 (property); Institutes, 3,23-25; Institutes, 4,3-5 (obligations – contract and delict); Digest 40.1-4 (manumission); “Imperium” in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World [online through library website].

Assessment & Assignments

20% attendance and participation in lecture

Each student is required to attend the weekly lecture and the tutorials, as well as participate in class exercises, discussions, etc. (5%).  Students must also ask at least two questions over the course of the semester (you must announce your name before you ask the question) (15%) with half the grade given for asking the questions (7.5%), then the other half given for the quality/relevance of the questions (7.5%).  From time to time, I will also cold-call on students. 

Students will also be expected to attend at least three meetings of the world history seminar (advertised on the departmental website), as well as office hours on at least one occasion.


30% Tutorial participation (20%) and 10-minute oral presentation on reading (10% for presentation part) 

Active and engaged participation in tutorial.  In each tutorial, one or several students should give a 10-minute presentation (with PowerPoint) consisting of 5-minute summary of one reading/image of your choice followed by 5-minute argument about why it is relevant to the key questions of the course.  Please keep to 10 minutes total! This should not overlap substantially with the text/topic of your digital essay.  If you refer to Greek terms and names, please write them in the Greek alphabet.  There will then be 5 minutes for the TA and other students to ask questions; each student must ask at least one question during one of the four tutorials.  You must email the PowerPoint presentations to the TA at least 1 hour in advance of class.  You will receive a grade and comments based on ideas (40%), structure (20%), style (20%) and oral/gestural delivery (20%).  The sign-up sheet for individual texts/images will be passed around in week 3. 


10% 2 In-Class Quizzes

There will be two short quizzes: writing Greek words (Week 4) and mapping the Mediterranean (Week 5) [see week 1 PP].


40% 2000-Word Final Project 


Write a 2000-word research paper on one of the museum objects we look at during the workshop.  You will need to go to study the object (arrange this with professor), and probably do a small amount background research on the materials, production, use, historical context, etc.  The instructor can provide additional reading.

Due on Friday of Week 13 at 5pm via email to Professor.     


Write a traditional 2000-word argument driven essay on a topic of your choice. Here is some inspiration, although you can also choose your own question:

    • Was the ancient Mediterranean ruled more by rhetoric than law?
    • The Athenian state was doomed to failure from the start. Discuss.
    • The Etruscans and Romans were essentially the same culture. Discuss.
    • Was Alexander “the Great” the most deserving of that name in the ancient Mediterranean? If not, who deserved it more?
    • Was Plato or Aristotle a better guide to a good life?
    • Compare and contrast the early histories of Rome and the Greek city-states.

Due on Friday of Week 13 at 5pm via email to Professor


Answer an essay question of your own choice in the form of a digital Story Map.

This “illustrated digital essay” should be in the form of a Story Map of 10 pages using and include relevant maps (generated by Story Map).  The main task of the Story Map is explaining and making an essay-style argument about the events, topic or development (80-100-word paragraphs per slide), and include any images (from Wikicommons, lecture PowerPoints or elsewhere making sure to quote your source), and at least 3 relevant short quotations from sources you have read for class.  Use Watercolor background.  You must discuss your ideas with the TA or instructor before Week 11.

Due on Friday of Week 13 at 5pm via email to instructor (email the Knightlab internet link to the instructor and submit a Word Doc. of the text only via Veriguide). 


Note: Regardless of which final project you choose, please upload your text document to Veriguide for plagiarism checking to ensure your submission meets academic integrity standards. The signed Veriguide receipt copy should be emailed to the Professor.


As part of the undertaking in HIST2005, active and engaged participation is expected during tutorials.

In each tutorial, students will be scheduled to present their chosen text or object from the reading list. Each student should give a 10-minute presentation (with PowerPoint) consisting of a 5-minute summary of one reading/image of choice followed by a 5-minute argument about why it is relevant to the key questions of the course. This should not overlap substantially with the text/topic of your digital essay. If Greek terms and names are referred to, please write them in the Greek alphabet.

There will be 5 minutes for the TA and other students to ask questions; each student must ask at least one question during one of the four tutorials.  PowerPoint presentations must be uploaded to Blackboard at least 1 hour in advance of class.  Grades and comments are based on ideas (40%), structure (20%), style (20%) and oral/gestural delivery (20%).

Tutorial Schedule and Venue
Regular Tutorial Meetings: Wednesday, 12:30 PM – 2:15 PM at Y.C. Liang Hall Room G06 (LHC G06)

  1. February 7 (Week 5)
  2. February 21 (Week 6)
  3. March 13 (Week 8)
  4. March 27 (Week 10)

Additional Tutorial Meetings: Wednesday, 4:30 PM – 6:15 PM at Lee Shau Kee Room 201 (LSK 201)

  1. February 28 (Week 7)
  2. April 3 (Week 11)

All readings will be primary sources.  However, students looking for a textbook may refer to the relevant chapters in Norman Davies, Europe: A History. 2014 (copies in UL).  More detailed treatments are found in J. Boardman, J. Griffin, and O. Murray, Oxford History of Greece and the Hellenistic World (2002) and D. Potter, Ancient Rome: A New History (2014, etc.), which are available for purchase in various locations.  For the class, however, you need only attend the lectures and do the provided readings for full credit.

Students should also look up the authors they are presenting on in The Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World [available online through library catalogue]. 

Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at

With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.

  • In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
  • For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.

Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.

Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.

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