Athenian Power Plays - CLAS7140

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2022 to 2023.


This module explores 5th-century Athenian history through the plays which 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 which survive and the nature of 'making history'.


Contact hours

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


Autumn & Spring

Also available under code CL713 (Level 5)

Method of assessment

Essay (2,000 words) – 60%
Examination (2 hours) – 40%

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

On successfully completing the module Level 6 students will be able to:

1. Articulate detailed and nuanced responses to key questions about the nature and value of the dramatic evidence for 5th century Athenian history;
2. Demonstrate deep understanding of the importance and implications of ancient drama within its historical context;
3. Understand 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. Devise sustained, critical and evaluative arguments related to the interpretation of these issues;
5. Engage reflectively with current research related to primary and secondary sources.


  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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