Session 2 What is Classics.doc

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2 Mar 2013
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CLA260H1S
Method and Theory in Classics
Session 2: What is Classics?
Some useful introductions, especially (but not only) for those relatively new to
the field:
Mary Beard and John Henderson, Classics: A Very Short Introduction (OUP 1995)
Robin Osborne, Greek History (Routledge 2004)
Christopher Kelly, The Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction (OUP 2006)
Beyond the obvious ‘study of ancient Greek and Roman civilisation’ defining the
field of Classics can be surprisingly difficult.
In practice most attempted definitions include references to chronological
scope; geographic scope; and disciplinary scope. All are problematic and tend to
be fuzzy.
Chronological scope. The usual focus is on ‘Classical’ Greece (roughly
the 5th and 4th centuries BCE), and later Republican and early Imperial
Rome (roughly the 2nd century BCE to the 2nd century CE). However, the
field is usually taken to include much earlier and later material.
oFor Greece, goes back at least to 8th century BCE and start of the
‘Archaic’ period; frequently also to c.1200 BCE (approximate
conventional end of the Bronze Age in the Aegean) to include the
‘Dark Age’, more usually now referred to as the ‘Iron Age’.
Sometimes study of the preceding Bronze Age civilisations of the
Minoans and Mycenaeans (so back to at least c.2000BCE in the case
of the former) is included. Looking ahead, usually includes the
‘Hellenistic’ period, which conventionally starts in 323 BCE (with the
death of Alexander the Great); when it ends is muddied by the
overlap with the Roman world, but a common date is 31 BCE.
oFor Rome, the traditional date for the founding of the city is also in
the 8th century BCE. Rome becomes a Republic traditionally in 509
BCE; the end of the Republic is often (not always) taken also to be in
31 BCE. The following period is often loosely referred to as that of
the Roman empire, though since Rome had had an empire for some
time by this point the term ‘Principate’ is also used for the period
c.30 BCE to 284 CE. (The following period used to be referred to as
the ‘Dominate’, and you will sometimes still see this term used).
When the Roman empire ‘falls’ or ends is an endless source of
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Document Summary

Some useful introductions, especially (but not only) for those relatively new to the field: Mary beard and john henderson, classics: a very short introduction (oup 1995) Christopher kelly, the roman empire: a very short introduction (oup 2006) Beyond the obvious study of ancient greek and roman civilisation" defining the field of classics can be surprisingly difficult. In practice most attempted definitions include references to chronological scope; geographic scope; and disciplinary scope. All are problematic and tend to be fuzzy: chronological scope. The usual focus is on classical" greece (roughly the 5th and 4th centuries bce), and later republican and early imperial. Rome (roughly the 2nd century bce to the 2nd century ce). However, the field is usually taken to include much earlier and later material: for greece, goes back at least to 8th century bce and start of the. Archaic" period; frequently also to c. 1200 bce (approximate conventional end of the bronze age in the aegean) to include the.

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