Athenian Power Plays - CLAS7130

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module explores 5th-century Athenian history through the plays that were put on stage during this period of war and political upheaval. Greek tragedies and comedies produced during this tumultuous period (472-405 BC) offer us some of the most enticing, yet challenging, evidence for the state of Athenian politics and attitudes to contemporary events (especially war and empire). In this module, the evidence of key plays will be set against other forms of historical evidence to illuminate the complex relationship between the types of evidence that survive and the nature of 'making history'.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 40
Private Study Hours: 260
Total Study Hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

• Essay (3,000 words) – 60%
• Commentary (2,000 words) – 40%

Reassessment method:

• 100% Coursework (3,000 words)

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Collard, C. (2008), Aeschylus Oresteia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Davie, J. (1998), Euripides Suppliant Women, Trojan Women in Electra and Other Plays. London: Penguin.
De Selincourt, A. (2003) Herodotus: The Histories (especially Books 6-9) in The Histories Revised. London: Penguin.
Sommerstein, A. (2003), Aristophanes Acharnians, Lysistrata in Aristophanes Lysistrata and Other Plays. London: Penguin.
Warner, R. (2000). Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War. London: Penguin.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Articulate responses to key questions about the nature and value of the dramatic evidence for 5th century Athenian history;
2 Understand the importance and implications of ancient drama within its historical context;
3 Comprehend the conceptual nuances (and ambiguities) of key ancient Greek terms used within the dramas studied and prevalent in the political discussions of the time;
4 Demonstrate critical, specific and in-depth analyses of these issues;
5 Engage reflectively with other people's analyses and interpretations of primary and secondary sources.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate skills in critical analysis and argument, both through their reading and through listening to others;
2 Demonstrate their ability to make complex ideas clearly understandable in their writing;
3 Work autonomously and to take responsibility for their learning.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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