This course examines the interactions between warfare and society in the ancient Mediterranean from early Greece as described in the Homeric poems to the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West (late fifth century CE), with some additional examples from medieval Byzantium. There are two primary foci: (1) evolution in the strategies, tactics, weapons, and the persons who fought wars, and (2) how these changes influenced and were influenced by wider political and social institutions, including ethical views of war and the role of non-combatants. We will then use this examination to consider the often advanced argument that the ancient Greeks particularly accepted war as a natural fact about which nothing could be done.
The primary readings will be from Greek and Roman authors in translation (including Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Arrian, Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus Marcellinus), as well as from the work of various modern scholars primarily available in online journals. We will also use chapters from the recently published Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare (2008). The evidence of archaeology and material culture will also be considered.
• Each class member will make three 10-minute presentations of an assigned reading and lead a subsequent 10 minute class discussion of the topic (each 10% of the final grade)
• Two 5-6 page analysis essays. These will involve selecting at least four readings (two from an ancient source and two from modern scholars) on the same or related topic, accurately analyzing the readings, and then integrating the material into a cohesive conclusion. (each 15% of final grade)
• Final Project -A paper of 20 pages, similar to the essays, but with more extensive use of sources, and greater depth of evidence and analysis (40% of the final grade)
The Origins of Western Warfare: Militarism and Morality in the Ancient World by Doyne Dawson (Westview Press, 1996)