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

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Oct 12—Dec 7
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Oct 14
Unit: 1
Tuition: $465
Instructor(s): Michael Shanks, Gary Devore
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
Please Note: No class on November 23
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Oct 12—Dec 7
8 weeks
Refund Date
Oct 14
1 Unit
Michael Shanks, Gary Devore
Please Note: No class on November 23
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
This course—a radically revised update of a popular course last offered in 2020—will be a tour through more than a thousand years of history, 700 BCE to 450 CE, debunking misconceptions about Greco-Roman antiquity and exploring fresh ideas about what drove the motor of ancient history. We will look beyond conventional stories of the rise of civilization, the fall of the Roman Republic, dynastic struggles, and military crises, and instead explore antiquity through the experiences of individuals humble and powerful, including ordinary farmers and charismatic leaders. As we visit the princely societies of Europe to see how the stage was set for the successful development of city-states in the Mediterranean, we will see how the Greeks and Romans combined the community values of warrior bands of Europe with a sense of civic membership evolved from city life in the Near East. We will explore everyday life in a Greek city and in a Roman outpost at the edge of the empire, debunk the myth that the Greeks invented philosophy, and discover how those whom the Greeks called barbarians were key to creating the foundations of Europe. Students will come away from the course with a new view of antiquity centered on people’s experiences and a fresh way of understanding innovation, community, democracy, and empire today.

Professor of Classics and 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 Center; the programs in Writing and Rhetoric, Urban Studies, and Science, Technology, and Society; and the Center for Design Research at Stanford. He pursues fieldwork examining the Roman borders of Scotland, and he also advises businesses and organizations on managing change.


Gary Devore has excavated in the ancient ruins of Pompeii and also at sites near Hadrian’s Wall in the north of England. He was one of the directors and principal investigators of Binchester Roman Excavations and is a former director of the Pompeii Archaeological Research Project, Porta Stabia. Devore received a PhD from the University of Bradford, UK, and taught at Stanford for a decade.

Textbooks for this course:

(Recommended) Paul Cartledge, Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction (ISBN 978-0199601349)
(Recommended) Peter Thonemann, The Hellenistic Age: A Very Short Introduction (ISBN 978-0198746041)
(Recommended) David Gwynn, The Roman Republic: A Very Short Introduction (ISBN 978-0199595112)
(Recommended) Christopher Kelly, The Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction (ISBN 978-0192803917)
(Recommended) Gillian Clark, Late Antiquity: A Very Short Introduction (ISBN 978-0199546206)