Faculty of Arts


Greece and Persia



This course explores the relationship between the Persian Empire and the Greek cities from the sixth to the fourth century BCE. The Persians emerged as a major force in the mid-sixth century rapidly overthrowing the Medes of the upper Tigris Valley and establishing their own world empire, first through Asia Minor and subsequently incorporating Babylonia, Afghanistan and Egypt. At the western periphery of Persian power some Greeks found themselves a part of this new empire, while others remained independent.

The story of this relationship, encompassing cultural exchange, revolts and internecine wars that culminated with the Macedonian hegemony over both peoples in the latter half of the fourth century is complex and central to understanding the history of the ancient world and, indeed, the development of the modern world. Herein lie the origins of the cultural assumptions that divide east from west, Europe from Asia, and ultimately the strongly held stereotypes concerning the peoples and cultures of the two continents and thus the world we live in today.

Course Delivery

Three classes each week. The course is divided into six fortnightly segments of six classes. Each segment includes five lectures and concludes with a sixth class employed as an in-class discussion of the themes of that specific segment and analysis of relevant primary evidence. The use of primary evidence, both written and archaeological, will play a central role in the examination assessment and essay research in the course. The course will be well supported online through CANVAS. Lecture notes and guided readings for in-class discussions will appear before and after lectures alongside more general studies, maps and recommended readings.

Availability 2020

Not taught in 2020



Recommended Reading

Ancient Texts (modern Penguin titles where applicable): Herodotus, The Histories;

Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War; Xenophon, A History of My Times, The

Persian Expedition, Cyropaedia; Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander; Plutarch’s Lives

of Artaxerxes, Themistocles, Aristides and Alexander.

General Modern Texts: The Cambridge Ancient Histories; Pierre Briant, From Cyrus to

Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire (Eisenbrauns 2002); Amélie Kuhrt, The

Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources from the Achaemenid Period (London 2007); Peter

Rhodes, A History of the Classical Greek World (London 2006); M. A. Dandamaev, A

Political History of the Persian Empire (New York 1989); J. M. Cook, The Persian

Empire (New York 1983); M. C. Miller, Athens and Persia in the Fifth Century BC: A

Study in Cultural Receptivity, (Cambridge 1997).


Coursework + exam


ANCHIST 302: 15.0 points


15 points at Stage II in Ancient History, Classical Studies or Classical Studies and Ancient History, or 30 points at Stage II in Greek



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