Front Quad of Lincoln College, the walls covered in bright green ivy

Ancient and Modern History Course Choices and Reading List

Welcome Letter from Ancient and Modern History Tutors

Dear Fresher,

We are looking forward to having you with us in October.  We write now to invite you to make some choices for the course you will follow in the first year.  As you may know already, those studying Ancient and Modern History are required to take a classified examination - Prelims - at the end of the first year.  We would like you to undertake some preparatory reading for some of the work to be covered in the first term.

Your main course in your first term will center on a period of Ancient History and we invite you to choose between Greek History 650-479 BC or Roman History 241-146 BC.  Please complete the form below to let us know your choice by Friday, 19th July.

Most modern historians at Lincoln study Historiography in the first year.  We enclose a schedule of set texts. You should choose four of the authors.  We hope that you will be able to read the set text in these four cases, with care but without attempting to master the historical matter to which individual texts may refer.

There are two alternatives to Historiography, involving a study of texts in a classical language (Herodotus or Sallust).  If you have A level (or similar level of attainment) in another language and would like to consider these options, please let us know.  Otherwise, please confirm that you wish to study Historiography and specify your choice of authors via the form below by Friday, 19th July.

If you are interested in other opportunities to develop your language skills, please let us know.

Your Ancient History tutor is Dr Roel Konijnendijk, who will send you a preparatory reading list once you have made your choices.

Information about the College Book Grant Scheme will be sent at a later date.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Perry Gauci

Lucy Wooding

Aled Davies

Roel Konijnendijk

Ancient History

Greek History, 650-479 BC: The Archaic Greek World

We start in the murky beginnings of written history, around 650 BC, with a Greek world of small autonomous communities (poleis) that slowly develop their shape and organisation as their culture spreads across the Mediterranean world. Through tutorials, lectures, and your own reading, you will meet colourful tyrants, witness the beginnings of democracy, and see social customs such as the symposium or institutional developments such as written law appear. We visit places around the Greek world, including the two most exceptional and in many ways contrasting city-states: Athens and Sparta, as they took on the forms for which they are still famous. The key event of the second half of the period is the rise of the Achaemenid Persian Empire and its push into the Aegean, culminating in the Persian Wars of 490-479.

Our main written source is Herodotus, who stands at the beginnings of western historical writing. He deserves serious study, and we will explore his compelling blend of oral history, first-hand observation and intelligent, if sometimes misguided, speculation. Beyond Herodotus, we will read Archaic Greek poets, but also study non-literary sources, including inscriptions and occasionally the rich archaeological record. These strands of evidence rarely weave together easily; they present special intellectual challenges, especially for the earlier part of the paper.  The Archaic period is a must for anyone thinking seriously about studying ancient Greek history later in the course.

Roman History, 241-146 BC: Rome and the Mediterranean

From the end of the cataclysmic First Punic War to the year of Rome’s final obliteration of the great cities of Carthage and Corinth in the fateful year 146 BC, this period saw the Roman conquest of Greece and much of the Hellenistic East, and indeed the development of Rome into an imperial state exercising dominion throughout the Mediterranean world. It also saw the developing effects of this process on the Romans themselves and on those they encountered and conquered in Italy and elsewhere. This time marked the beginning of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic. The ‘freedom of the Greeks’ was proclaimed by a Roman general in 196 BC, but in fact these years marked the fall of Macedon and the end of liberty for Greece and much of the rest of the Mediterranean world. Rome and its allies in Italy all prospered, but wealth and empire brought rapid social and economic change and mounting political tensions.

This period shaped the views of one of the greatest historians of antiquity, Polybius of Megalopolis, who made his subject precisely the ambition of the Romans for universal conquest and the effects this had upon the lives of all the peoples involved. A contemporary of the events, and detained in Rome in the 160s and 150s, he enables (and enlivens) productive study of this period, which saw, among so much else, the beginnings of Roman history-writing. Our study is supported by an increasing number of surviving inscriptions and an increasingly detailed archaeological record.

Modern History

Historiography: Tacitus to Weber

There are two routes commonly pursued in the study of historical writing and method: first, study of the techniques which, as of today, we hold to be most relevant, and secondly, the study of classic texts in Western historical writing. This paper takes the second road, and the student may reasonably hope to be exercised (or derive profit) in the following areas: 1. the close reading of texts which really will bear close reading — reading being still the most fundamental of all historical techniques; 2. a grasp of central problems in their broadest outlines — such as the scope and proper subject matter of history; historical objectivity; the interrelation of the author's past and present concerns; the relations of literature and history; and (not least) why we should bother with history at all; 3. the outlines of how the Western historical tradition has evolved in fact.

Prescribed Texts:

This paper is concerned with important historians and their works. Candidates will be required to show knowledge of at least three authors and texts. Passages for comment will not be set.

(i) Tacitus, Annals, Bks I-IV; and Agricola (both available in Penguin edns.).

(ii) St Augustine, The City of God, Bk V; Bk XII, chs. 10-28; Bk XV, chs. 4-17; Bk XVIII, chs. 1-27; Bk XIX, chs. 10-24 (available in Penguin and Cambridge paperback edns.).

(iii) Machiavelli, Discourses, Bk I, Preface, chs. 1-6, 9-19, 25-27, 55-60; Bk II, Preface, chs. 1-4, 19-22, 28-30; Bk III, chs. 1-9, 40, 43 (ed. J.&P. Bondanella, Oxford World Classics, 1997).

(iv) Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chs. 1-3, 8, 9, 14 and 15, `General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West' (available in Penguin and Everyman edns.).

(v) Ranke, History of the Reformation in Germany, Author's Preface; Bk II, chs. 1, 3, 4; Bk III, chs. 1, 3, 5; Bk IV, chs. 2, 5.

(vi) Macaulay, `Milton' (1825), `History' (1825), `Sir James Macintosh' (1835), `Ranke's History of the Popes' (1840), in his Essays; The History of England, Ch. X, final section entitled `Peculiar Character of the English Revolution' (available in Everyman and several other edns.).

(vii) Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, tr. Talcott Parsons (London, 1991), pp. 13-183; `Science as a Vocation', tr. Michael John, in P. Lassman and I. Velody (eds.), Max Weber's `Science as a Vocation' (London, 1989), pp. 3-31.

Course Choices

Please complete this form by Friday 19 July 2024