The Novel in Antiquity (PGT) CLASSIC5112

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course examines major texts of Greek and Roman fictional writing (which we nowadays anachronistically call "novels") composed in the Roman Imperial period. The narratives under discussion will be analysed within their social context and as literary products of their cultural environment; some of the issues that will be discussed during the course are how and why the authors of these texts use literary tradition, what these stories tell us about the narrative techniques and the readers of their eras, to what extent these texts may be used as pieces of evidence for gender studies and the fashioning of identity in the ancient world, how our understanding of these texts can be aided by modern critical theories, and how these texts have influenced and inspired different cultural and artistic forms in the modern world.


Two one-hour lectures per week over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus - shared with CLASSIC4044 ("The Novel in Antiquity: Impotent Heroes and Damsels in Distress").

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level

Excluded Courses






Essay (3000 words) 40%

written commentary (1200 words) 30%

Oral Presentation (15 minutes) 30%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

The aims of this course are to:

■ Introduce students to the literary concept of "fictional narrative" as theorised and viewed in Graeco-Roman antiquity from the second century BC onwards

■ Discuss the socio-cultural background and the historical circumstances which contributed to the emergence of the novel as a literary form in antiquity

■ Explore the implications of the sophisticated character of these texts for the purpose of understanding better their intended and/or actual readership and their ideology

■ Examine the cultural impact of these texts in literature and other artistic forms from the eighteenth century onwards

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

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.