12998 - Ancient Historiography (1)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be familiar with the milestones of ancient historiography. They will be able to analyse, explain and contextualize historical literary texts with knowledge of original sources. They will know how to approach texts and data critically and define themes and significant problems of ancient historiography on the basis of a critical reading of the sources and the documentation available. They will communicate orally using registers appropriate to the discipline and be able to draw up and update a bibliography in written form upon scientific standards using the most suitable research tools, including online databases.

Course contents

The course will be structured in three parts:

1. Introduction (2 hours):

1.1. Discipline’s object and methods (sources, databases, bibliographies)

1.2. Interactions between Greek and Roman historiography: models and innovations; historical convergences and historiographical analysis.

2. Contents and methodological choices in Greek and Roman historiography (from the origins to the 2nd century AD), through the following select authors:

2.1. Hecataeus of Miletus and the origins of Greek historiography; Herodotus; Thucydides; Xenophon; Ephorus; Theopompus; Polybius; Diodor; Dionysius of Halicarnassus; Plutarch; Arrian, Pausanias (10 hours)

2.2. Quintus Fabius Pictor and the origins of Roman historiography; Sallust; Caesar; Livy; Tacitus; Suetonius; Cassius Dio (8 hours)

3. Seminar "The second Book of History of the Peloponnesian War" (10 hours)



Attending students will have to study:

  1. For the problems and sources discussed in class: the lesson notes and documents distributed by the teacher
  2. Select chapters (assigned by the teacher at first lesson) from M. Bettalli (ed.), Introduzione alla storiografia greca, new edition, Roma, Carocci 2009
  3. Select chapters (assigned by the teacher at first lesson) from M. Manca, F. Rohr Vio, Introduzione alla storiografia romana, Carocci 2010
  4. Thucydides Book II.

Reference Texts:

Tucidide, La guerra del Peloponneso, a cura di Renzo Tosi, nuova trad. e note di Pietro Rosa, Rusconi, Santarcangelo di Romagna 2016.

Students will be provided with the PDF translations of the passages read in class.

Non-attending students will have to study:

M. Bettalli (ed.), Introduzione alla storiografia greca, n. ediz., Roma, Carocci 2009 (in its entirety).

M. Manca, F. Rohr Vio, Introduzione alla storiografia romana, Carocci 2010 (in its entirety).

They must also read Thucydides Book II, as well as the following papers:

- P. Tuci, Le fonti letterarie greche, in G. Poma (ed.), La storia antica. Metodi e fonti per lo studio, Bologna, Il Mulino 2016, 131-156.

- The contribution of S. De Vido in M. Polito (ed.): Greci che pensano, creano, scrivono la loro storia, Aracne 2020, 21-40; and the Introduction of M. Polito, 11-20;  

- Xenophon's Anabasis (in its entirety).

Teaching methods

Lectures. Seminar discussions.

Assessment methods

Oral examination will check the student’s knowledge and understanding of:

a) the topics and texts discussed in class; b) the parts of the handbooks of Greek and Latin Historiography indicated by the teacher (see above); c) the studies listed above.

Attending students will be requested to answer four questions:

  1. A question on the handbook of Greek historiography cited above
  2. A question on the handbook of Roman historiography
  3. A question about one of the papers cited abov
  4. A question on the seminar part
  5. The compilation of a short bibliography on one of the topics discussed in class.

Non-attending students will be requested to answer:

  1. A question on the handbook of Greek historiography cited above;
  2. A question on the handbook of Roman historiography cited above;
  3. A question on each of the  texts cited above.

In the oral exam questions will be aimed at testing the student's ability in exposing with an appropriate language issues rising from the teaching material, as well as his/her skills in making connections between different texts in order to build an argument.

Proper language and the ability to critically speak about the original texts and books' content will lead to a good/excellent final grade.

Acceptable language and the ability to resume the books' content and class discussion on the original sources will lead to a sufficient/fair grade.

Insufficient linguistic proficiency and fragmentary knowledge of the books' content and class discussion on the original sources will lead to a failure in passing the exam.

Teaching tools

Guide to the use of informatic tools for the study of the discipline. Bibliographic repertories, online databases.
Research's materials (and the PDF of the contributions to read) will be indicated in class and onpublished in IOL.

Office hours

See the website of Maria Elena De Luna