Greek Letters and Letter-Writers: Friendship, Philosophy, Forgery CLASSIC4097

  • 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

This course examines one of the most important (and well-preserved) types of ancient Greek literature, the letter, which was key to creating and maintaining the reputations of key cultural figures from the ancient Greek world. It examines letters, collections of letters and letter-writers from across classical antiquity, focusing on some of the most famous names of ancient Greek culture, including Plato, Themistocles, Euripides and Socrates. It explores different types of letter, the roles they played in different historical and cultural contexts from the fourth century BC into Christian Late Antiquity.


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

Requirements of Entry

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

Excluded Courses

CLASSIC5124 - Greek Letters & Letter Writers

GREEK5025 - Greek Letters & Letter Writers in Greek




Commentary on a translated letter (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:


■ Provide students with the opportunity to examine a type of literature both crucial to and very common in Greek antiquity and explore its variety and importance.

■ Foster students' awareness of the importance of the functions and contexts of Greek epistolography for understanding its place in Greek culture across a wide chronological span.

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

■ Develop students' ability to explore 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 Greek epistolography. 

■ Show evidence of understanding of the social, historical, and literary contexts of the letters examined.

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

■ Analyse the interrelation between 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.