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Queen's University

*Please note that course syllabi are updated each year in late August 
Prior to August, syllabi on the Classics Department website will reflect the courses as they were offered in the last term or year.  Significant changes in emphasis in course material may occur from year to year, including grading methodology, grade weighting and assignments.   Up-to-date syllabi will be available to students by the first day of class.

CLST 330*/0.5  3L/S
Classical Greek Culture and Society

Instructor: Dr. Fabio Colivicchi

Office: Watson Hall, Room 502
Phone: (613) 533-6000, ext. 74821

Office Hours:after class or by appointment

Class Schedule

  • Tuesdays 10:00 - 11:30 AM
  • Thursdays 8:30 - 10:00 AM
Location: 217 Watson Hall (WATS-217)


Students are required to be familiar with Queen's policy on Academic Integrity .
Please also see:

Also see the Departmental policy on electronic devices in the classrooms:


Course Outline

The course will investigate key aspects of Greek culture and society especially – but not exclusively – during the so-called Classical period (5th and 4th centuries BC.).  Athens will be the main topic, but other areas of the Greek world, especially Sparta and the Western colonies, will be treated as well. The later perception and evaluation of Classical Greece and its role in modern culture will be discussed.


Each student will write a paper (10 pages). The topic can be either chosen from a list or agreed upon with the instructor.

  • In-Class Test 1 - 20 % (short questions, essay questions)
  • In-Class Test 2 - 20 % (short questions, essay questions)
  • Paper - 30 %
  • Final Exam - 30 % (short answers, longer answers)

As it is not a course that closely follows a textbook, attendance is very important for understanding and performance.

Required Textbooks

There is no single textbook for this course. Students are required to read chapters of the following books:

  • A companion to archaic Greece / edited by Kurt A. Raaflaub and Hans van Wees. Chichester, U.K.; Malden, MA : Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
  • A companion to the classical Greek world / edited by Konrad H. Kinzl. Malden, Mass.; Oxford : Blackwell Pub., 2006.
  • A companion to Greek religion / edited by Daniel Ogden. Malden, Mass.; Oxford : Blackwell Pub., 2007
  • Ken Dowden, The uses of Greek mythology: London ; New York : Routledge, 1992.

All of the above books are available in electronic format through Queen’s free online access.
The relevant chapters will be indicated at the beginning of each week. Additional readings may be added.
All slides shown in class (posted online weekly) are considered as required readings.

Class Schedule 

Week 1

Jan 7

Jan 9

  • The Athenian democracy: its development, its myth, and its reality
  • Reading: K.A. Raaflaub, Democracy, in Kinzl, ch. 19

Week 2

Jan 14

  • The polis and its rituals: civic festivals and the role of religion in city identity
  • Religion, city and space: cults and festivals inside and outside the city
  • Reading: E. Kearns, Religious practice and belief, in Kinzl, ch. 15

Jan 16

  • Religion and the individual: Dionysos
  • Reading: S. Guettel Cole, Finding Dionysus, in Ogden, ch. 21

Week 3

Jan 21

  • Religion and the individual: Demeter, Eleusis, and the Mysteries
  • Reading: K. Clinton, The mysteries of Demeter and Kore, in Ogden

Jan 23

  • Introducing new gods: foreign gods and heroes at Athens during the Peloponnesian War
  • Magic; golden leaves with "orphic" texts and defixiones.
  • Reading: M.W. Dickie, Magic in Classical and Hellenistic Greece, in Ogden

Week 4

Jan 28

  • In-Class Test 1

Jan 30

  • The ethics of war in Classical Greece: the warrior and the city
  • Readings: H. Singor, War and international relations, in Raaflaub and van Wees ch. 30; J.W.I.  Lee, Warfare in the classical age, in Kinzl ch. 23

Week 5

Feb 4

  • The other warriors: non-hoplite warriors, non-citizen warriors, the fleet, the mercenaries

Feb 6

  • Public and private: the oikos in the Greek society. Birth and childhood in Classical Athens

Week 6

Feb 11

  • Male transition rites. Hunting and initiation.

Feb 13

  • Public and private meals.Symposion and the Greek way of drinking.
  • Reading: O. Murray, the culture of the symposion, in Raaflaub and van Wees

February 18-21 Reading Week

Week 7

Feb 25

  • Athletics.
  • Reading: N. Fisher, the culture of competition, in Raaflaub and van Wees

Feb 27

  • Greeks and eros.

Week 8

Mar 4

  • In-Class Test 2

Mar 6

  • Female initiation and coming of age.
  • Marriage. An archaic society of the classical period: women and marriage rites at Lokroi.
  • Reading: Dowden pp. 101-109

Week 9

Mar 11

  • Symbols of female transgression: Amazons, Maenads, Thracian women.
  • Male and female in the thought of philosophers and physicians.

Mar 13

  • Music and politics in Classical Athens.

Week 10

Mar 18

  • Greek identity in the Classical Period: what a Greek is.
  • Greeks and the Others: barbarians and foreigners, women and children. The other side of the citizen: Satyrs.
  • Reading: J.M.  Hall, Ethnicity and cultural exchange, in Raaflaub and van Wees ch. 31

Mar 20

  • The Doric world: Spartan and Cretan institutions.
  • M. Nafissi, Sparta, in Raaflaub and van Wees ch. 7
  • N. Kennel and N. Luraghi, Laconia and Messenia, in Raaflaub and van Wees ch. 12

Week 11

Mar 25

  • Economics: trade, coinage, banks.
  • G.J. Oliver, The economic realities, in Kinzl

Mar 27

  • Artists and craftsmen: social status and role.
  • The intellectual and his role.

Week 12

Apr 1

  • The myth of classical Athens and Greece in ancient and modern culture: The Roman contribution to the construction of the myth of Classical Greece.

Apr 3

  • Classical Greece and the modern Western culture.


Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is constituted by the five core fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility (see These values are central to the building, nurturing and sustaining of an academic community in which all members of the community will thrive. Adherence to the values expressed through academic integrity forms a foundation for the "freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas" essential to the intellectual life of the University (see the Senate  Report on Principles and Priorities)

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the regulations concerning academic integrity and for ensuring that their assignments conform to the principles of academic integrity. Information on academic integrity is available in the Arts and Science Calendar (see  Academic Regulations), on the Arts and Science website and from the instructor of this course.

Departures from academic integrity include plagiarism, use of unauthorized materials, facilitation, forgery and falsification, and are antithetical to the development of an academic community at Queen's. Given the seriousness of these matters, actions which contravene the regulation on academic integrity carry sanctions that can range from a warning or the loss of grades on an assignment to the failure of a course to a requirement to withdraw from the university.

Download the  Statement on Academic Integrity for Inclusion in Course Syllabi and Assignments  [PDF]

Disability Accommodations

Queen's University is committed to achieving full accessibility for persons with disabilities. Part of this commitment includes arranging academic accommodations for students with disabilities to ensure they have an equitable opportunity to participate in all of their academic activities. If you are a student with a disability and think you may need accommodations, you are strongly encouraged to contact the Disability Services Office (DSO) and register as early as possible. For more information, including important deadlines, please visit the DSO website at:


The material on this website is copyrighted and is for the sole use of students registered in CLST 330. The material on this website may be downloaded for a registered student’s personal use, but shall not be distributed or disseminated to anyone other than students registered in CLST 330.  Failure to abide by these conditions is a breach of copyright, and may also constitute a breach of academic integrity under the University Senate’s Academic Integrity Policy Statement.

This page was last updated 04 September, 2013.

Department of Classics, 505 Watson Hall
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6.
P: 613.533.2745 | F: 613.533.6739