Reading Ancient Greek Literature

Course details

From £185.00
10 CATS points

08 Jan 2020 - 25 Mar 2020
Day of week

Reading Ancient Greek Literature


This course is aimed at those who have (or who have had in the past), a reasonable working knowledge of the fundamentals of the Ancient Greek language and who would like to read some classic Greek texts in the original. We will begin by reading Thucydides’ famous narration of the conflict between the Athenians and Spartans at Sphacteria during the Peloponnesian War, before exploring Plato’s fascinating discussion about the nature of arete in his dialogue Protagoras. In the process of reading these texts we will concentrate on securing and developing the key elements of the language, but also explore the world of the Ancient Greeks through an examination of their thought, history, mythology and literature. This will involve a light-hearted yet rigorous exploration of the Greek language and its influence today, and students should anticipate being able to read, understand, and make an informed personal response to the original material.

Programme details

Courses starts: 08 Jan 2020

Week 1:  Thucydides: Pylos and Sphacteria

Week 2:  Thucydides: Pylos and Sphacteria

Week 3:  Thucydides: Pylos and Sphacteria

Week 4:  Thucydides: Pylos and Sphacteria

Week 5:  Thucydides: Pylos and Sphacteria

Week 6:  Plato's Protagoras

Week 7:  Plato's Protagoras

Week 8:  Plato's Protagoras

Week 9:  Plato's Protagoras

Week 10:  Plato's Protagoras

Recommended reading

All weekly class students may become borrowing members of the Rewley House Continuing Education Library for the duration of their course. Prospective students whose courses have not yet started are welcome to use the Library for reference. More information can be found on the Library website.

There is a Guide for Weekly Class students which will give you further information. 

Availability of titles on the reading list (below) can be checked on SOLO, the library catalogue.

Preparatory reading

  • The Intellectual Revolution Selections from Euripides, Thucydides and Plato \ Joint Association of Classical Teachers
  • A Brief Guide to Classical Civilization \ Kershaw, S.
  • Protagoras and Meno (Penguin Classics) \ Plato
  • The History of the Peloponnesian War By Thucydides Introduction by M. I. Finley Translated by Rex Warner Notes by M. I. Finley \ Thucydides

Recommended Reading List


Course Fee: £185.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00


Dr Steve Kershaw

Steve Kershaw has taught for the department since 1998. He has been fascinated by the ancient Greeks since an early age, published books on Greek mythology, Classical civilisation, and Plato, and has taught Greek at all levels from beginner to degree.

Course aims

Course Aim:
The course is designed for students with an advanced level of facility in ancient Greek who wish to read and enjoy authentic texts (in this case Thucydides and Plato) in the original language.

Course Objectives:

  • To make a light-hearted yet academically thorough exploration of two important Ancient Greek texts, including essential grammar and vocabulary, metrical and stylistic analysis, and cultural and intellectual context.
  • To develop skills of problem-solving, literary appreciation, observation and analysis with further applications in study, work and leisure, and provide an interesting, enjoyable and relevant course of study.
  • The course will be based around the actual text of Thucidides Book IV and Plato's Protagoras.

Teaching methods

Sessions will revolve around the account of the military activities around Pylos and Sphacteria in the Peloponnesian War, as narrated by Thucydides, and the discussions on the nature of arete in Pato's Protagoras.

The core reading matter will be drawn from the actual texts of Thucydides and Plato.

  • Essential vocabulary will be discussed (and provided by the edition used for the course)
  • Grammar and syntax will be analysed
  • Various 'Greek delights' will be introduced, highlighting the relationship of ancient Greek to modern English.

Students will be asked to recall, select and deploy relevant knowledge specified for the course in a clear, concise and logical way. This may be done either orally or in writing, individually or in groups

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be expected to

  • Have developed an understanding of some of the fundamental linguistic structures of classical Greek, their relationship to English, and their distinctive modes of expression
  • Be able to accurately translate challenging Greek verse into English
  • Have acquired an understanding of some exceptional quality Greek prose in the original language, including the context (literary, historical, social, philosophical) in which it was written, and the literary features used (e.g. metaphor, simile, speeches, etc.)

Assessment methods

Students will be provided with a variety of assignments including:

  • Morphology exercises
  • Passages for translation from Latin to English
  • Quizzes to test knowledge of vocabulary and grammar
  • Reading exercises.

Coursework will comprise two assignments taken from the list above.


Held in conjunction with the WEA (Maidenhead branch).

To enrol please contact:

Steph Diggon (WEA)

19 Gorse Road





Telephone: 01628 527465.

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Level and demands

Some previous knowledge of Ancient Greek is necessary (e.g. rusty O or A Level, or degree). Students should have some experience of the basic morphology of verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc., and of the main grammatical constructions.