Humanities (HUMN) 309

Ancient Greece (Revision 1)

HUMN 309 course cover

Delivery Mode: Individualized study

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: None. HUMN 201 is strongly recommended.

Precluded Courses: HUMN 309 is a cross-listed course—a course listed under three different disciplines—with CLAS 309 and HIST 309. (HUMN 309 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit for CLAS 309, HIST 309 or HUMN 248.)

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Humanities Home Page

HUMN 309 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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HUMN 309 provides a comprehensive introduction to the history and culture of Ancient Greece from the archaic period through the Persian and Peloponnesian wars to the Hellenistic era. The course utilizes an interdisciplinary approach, drawing upon the work of historians, classical scholars, political scientists, philosophers, and literary critics.

A balance is maintained between surveying the political and social history of the period and studying the cultural and intellectual achievements of ancient Greek civilization. Thus students trace the emergence and evolution of Greek kingdoms and city-states and the rise and fall of the Athenian empire, but they also explore the best of Greek tragic and comic drama, poetry, philosophy, historiography and political theory. Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Arrian, and Polybius are among the Greek and Hellenistic authors whose writings are examined (in translation) in the course.


HUMN 309 is divided into thirteen units:

  • Unit 1: The Ancient Aegean
  • Unit 2: Myth, Religion and the Epic
  • Unit 3: Herodotus and the Persian Wars
  • Unit 4: Imperial Athens: Politics, Society and Culture
  • Unit 5: Thucydides, the Second Peloponnesian War and the Decline of Athens
  • Unit 6: Tragic Drama
  • Unit 7: Lyric Poetry and Attic Comedy
  • Unit 8: Early Greek Philosophy: The Presocratics and Socrates
  • Unit 9: Plato
  • Unit 10: Aristotle
  • Unit 11: Alexander's Empire and the Hellenistic Kingdoms
  • Unit 12: Hellenistic Culture: Literature, Historiography and Art
  • Unit 13: Hellenistic Philosophy, Religion and Science


To receive credit for HUMN 309, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent) and a grade of at least 50 percent or better on the final examination. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Assignment 1 Assignment 2 Final Exam Total
30% 35% 35% 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Boardman, John, Jasper Griffin, and Oswyn Murray (Eds.) 1988. The Oxford History Greece and the Hellenistic World. Oxford and New York: Oxford U.P.

Homer, The Iliad of Homer, translated by Richmond Lattimore, with a new Introduction and Notes by Richard Martin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

The textbook The Penguin History of Greece, by A. R. Burn, is out of print, so it is no longer included in your course package. In its place, an electronic textbook, Thomas R. Martin's Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times (Yale University Press, 2010), has been assigned and is available to students through the AU library. Your course package includes an announcement that indicates which readings from Martin to substitute for the readings assigned from Burns by the Study Guide.

Other Materials

The course materials include a student manual, four study guides, and a reading file.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the HUMN 309 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least “D” (50 percent) on the examination.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

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