Hellenistic Poetry CLASSIC4096

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The conquests of Alexander greatly expanded the horizons of the Greek world. This course examines the changed situations and contexts in which the poets of the period following these conquests worked, the relationship between the different Hellenistic poets and their attitudes to and reform of the past, from their use of Homer to their treatment of perceptions of the Greek world. Students on this course will study some of the most important poets of the period: for example, Callimachus, Theocritus, and Apollonius of Rhodes, who (working principally in the recently founded city of Alexandria) helped to shape all later views of ancient literature from Virgil and Ovid onwards.


1x1hr lecture, 1x1hr seminar per week over 10 weeks as scheduled in MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in Classics and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry to Classics and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses

GREEK5011 Hellenistic Poetry [Greek piggyback of this course] GREEK5026 Hellenistic Poetry Greek  [PGT piggyback course of this course]




Commentary on a translated poem (1,200 words) - 25%

Essay (3,500 words) - 75%


The word count for this course is slightly greater than the standard of 4,000 for UG Honours courses. However, given the nature of this subject, a slightly higher word count is felt necessary to allow students to explore in proper depth the complexity of this topic.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:


■ Examine one of the most interesting and influential periods in Greek literature.

■ Develop in students a deep knowledge of central texts of Greek poetry.

■ Increase students' awareness of current debates on a wide variety of relevant critical and theoretical topics.

■ Develop skills in close reading and analysis of literary texts, studied in translation

■ Develop students' exploring an important body of literature from a variety of different perspectives, reflecting the key themes of the course

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Produce detailed commentaries of the poems of Callimachus, Theocritus and Apollonius (among others) 

■ Show evidence of understanding of the social, historical, and cultural contexts of Hellenistic poetry

■ Present their own research relating to the themes of the course in a coherent and scholarly form

■ Explore of the interrelated nature of literature with cultural and historical contexts

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.