Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module CLAS2601: Greek Literature & the Near East

Department: Classics and Ancient History

CLAS2601: Greek Literature & the Near East

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • CLAS1301 and CLAS1601


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To study representative texts of Greek literature from ca.
  • 700 BCE to ca.
  • 100 BCE (such as Homer, Iliad, Aeschylus, The Persians.
  • Theocritus, Idylls) and to explore their relationship with ancient Near Eastern literature and culture.
  • The course builds on knowledge of Greek literature and history acquired in the first year.


  • After an introductory lecture, the course is divided into three sections.
  • The first focuses on Homer's Iliad, the Epic of Gilgamesh, Hesiod's Theogony and Enuma Elish
  • the second on Aeschylus' Persians, Euripides' Trojan Women and Herodotus' Histories.
  • the third on Theocritus, the Septuagint and Ezekiel's Exagoge.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A knowledge of the major phases of contact between Greek and Near Eastern literature and culture; of relevant Greek as well non-Greek texts and the main interpretative approaches to them; and a knowledge of the wider issues of cultural transmission which have shaped recent scholarship in the field.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to apply a variety of approaches to the study of cultural contact in the ancient Mediterranean; and to discuss patterns of interaction between Greek literature and the Near East in an informed way; an ability to grasp and express the major issues that arise when diverse and sometimes hostile cultures come into contact with one another.
Key Skills:
  • An ability to engage in an informed way with a range of alien literatures and cultures; an ability to compare and assess different interpretative approaches and methodologies; a capacity to sustain a clear, well-structured and well-defended argument in written form.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The lectures focus on the main topics covered in the course: early epic and the Near East, representations of Eastern civilisations in classical Greek texts, and multiculturalism in Hellenistic literature.
  • Students will be introduced to a variety of critical approaches to the study of cultural contact.
  • Seminars enable students to discuss and develop their ideas in an interactive environment.
  • Tutorials provide an opportunity to give specific feedback on written work and discuss any other matters of individual interest.
  • The modes of assessment ensure that students engage with the issues discussed in the course both in submitted essays (formative as well as summative) and under timed conditions.
  • The examination requires students to comment on specific passages as well as answer broader questions of interpretation.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Tutorials 2 1 in Michaelmas Term, 1 in Epiphany Term 1 hour 2
Seminars 3 1 per Term 1 hour 3
Preparation and Reading 173
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2500 words 100% Yes
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 hours 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

One formative exercise

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University