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HIS 169 — Greece and Rome: A New Account of Antiquity

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 25—Dec 4
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 8
Units: 2
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $485
Instructor(s): Michael Shanks
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class on November 27
7:00—8:50 pm
Sep 25—Dec 4
10 weeks
Drop By
Oct 8
2 Units
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Michael Shanks
Please Note: No class on November 27
Join us on a tour through more than a thousand years of history, 700 BCE to 450 CE, as we debunk a host of myths and misconceptions about Greco-Roman antiquity and explore fresh ideas about what drove the motor of ancient history. We will push to the background the old stories of the rise of Greek civilization, the expansion of Rome and the fall of the Republic, and the dynastic struggles and military crises leading to the fall of the Western Empire. Instead we will explore antiquity through the life experiences of a series of characters both humble and powerful, ordinary farmers and charismatic leaders, and especially by mobilizing the latest insights gained through archaeology.

The course will take us back to the origins of city life in the Near East and to the princely societies of Bronze Age Europe, showing how the scene was set for the successful development of the Mediterranean city-states. We will see how the Greeks and Romans combined the principles of community membership found in the warrior bands of Europe with the experiences of Near East city life. Among other topics, we will explore what everyday life was like in a Greek city, who really invented philosophy (not the Greeks!), how and why Greeks and Romans pictured people and animals in the ways they did, life in a Roman outpost at the edge of empire, and how those whom the Greeks called “barbarians” were actually the key to creating the foundations of Europe.

Students will come away from this course with a new view of antiquity centered on people’s experiences instead of grand stories, suggesting fresh ways of understanding innovation, community, democracy, and empire today.

Michael Shanks, Professor of Classics; Professor of Archaeology, Stanford

Michael Shanks is a specialist in long-term humanistic views of social change, design, and innovation. He is a senior faculty member in the Archaeology Program, the Program in Writing and Rhetoric; Science, Technology and Society; Urban Studies; and the Center for Design Research at Stanford. While he pursues fieldwork into the Roman borders of Scotland, he also serves on the Mayor of Rotterdam’s Advisory Board.

Textbooks for this course:

(Recommended) Jeremy McInerney, Ancient Greece: A New History (First Edition) (ISBN 978-0500293379)
(Recommended) David Potter , Ancient Rome: A New History (Second Edition) (ISBN 0500291241)