Classics (Classical Civilisation) MA/MA(SocSci)

Polybius between Greece and Rome (Greek) GREEK4030

  • 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

Polybius (c. 200-130 BCE) was a Greek general and politician, who was sent to Rome as a political prisoner and then became the friend and advisor of one of its most powerful men, Scipio the Younger. In this course, we read Polybius' Histories, a work which ostensibly aims to explain to the Greeks the causes of Rome's success, but which is perhaps even more about explaining the Greeks to the Romans. Selected passages will be read in Greek. 


3xlectures and 12xseminars shared with CLASSIC4046, as well as 10 language-focused seminars.

Excluded Courses





Exam (2-hour duration) - 50%

Essay (2500 words) - 50%

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:

■ Become familiar with Polybius' Histories, one of the most important historical sources and works of historiography from antiquity,

■ Engage with this work as evidence of the cultural exchange and efforts of understanding between Greeks and Romans at the point when the existence of the former came to depend on the latter,

■ Gain an overview of the historical events of 224-145 BC,

■ Interpret the Histories as a work of historiography and its place in this genre.

■ Become familiar with the language and style of Polybius, typical for the koine Greek written in the Hellenistic time period.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Interpret Polybius' Histories as a historical source,

■ Analyse Polybius' Histories as a work of historiography, understanding its place in the development of the genre,

■ Engage critically with scholarship on Polybius, both orally and in writing,

■ Present their ideas and arguments lucidly both orally and in writing,

■ Translate passages of Polybius into idiomatic English with full understanding of stylistic nuances.


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.