Classics (Classical Civilisation) MA/MA(SocSci)

The Invention of History: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon in Greek GREEK4027

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

Short Description

Through a reading of the three earliest works of historiography (Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon) this course investigates the motivations, preoccupations, ambitions, and techniques driving the invention of History, as discipline and as narrative form. Students will read substantial extracts of all three works in the original Greek and gain familiarity with each author's style and idiom.


25 * 1 hour seminars as scheduled in MyCampus. This is one of the honours options in Greek and may not run every year. The options that are running this year are available on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses





Exam (2-hour duration) - 60%

Oral Presentation ( 10 Minutes) - 20%

Commentary on text passage (1,500 words) - 20%

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:

■ Allow the students to study in depth the three Classical Greek authors who invented the discipline of History and the genre of historiography: Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon.

■ Give the students the opportunity to read substantial extracts of these three texts in Greek.

■ Make the students familiar with the main scholarship on these three authors and on Classical Greek historiography generally.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Translate the Greek of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon into correct and idiomatic English, both orally and in writing.

■ Relate the three texts to their historical and intellectual context.

■ Summarize and engage critically with the main scholarly debates about the three texts and about Classical Greek historiography more generally.

■ Interpret each of the three works both on its own and as part of a tradition.

■ Formulate their own analysis of each of the three texts and argue it coherently and persuasively both orally and in writing.

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.