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History Course Outline

Day 09.00 - 10.30 (BST) 14.00 - 15.30 (BST) 18.00 - 19.30 (BST)
Sunday 2 August 2020      Welcome
Monday 3 August 2020   Tutorial Applying to & Studying at Oxbridge Q&A 
Tuesday 4 August 2020 Tutorial Beginners Latin
Wednesday 5 August 2020   Tutorial  
Thursday 6 August 2020   Tutorial Plato's Republic
Friday 7 August 2020   Tutorial  
Saturday 8 August 2020      
Sunday 9 August 2020      
Monday 10 August 2020   Tutorial  
Tuesday 11 August 2020   Tutorial Beginners Latin
Wednesday 12 August 2020   Tutorial  
Thursday 13 August 2020   Tutorial Athenian Democracy
Friday 14 August 2020   Tutorial  

1-2-1 sessions to be arranged at suitable time for tutor and student (Zoom)


History Reading List: Alexander and his ‘Conquests’

The purpose of this course will be to pursue a range of historical questions:

  • What is history, and where does it originate? What is historiography?
  • What are the sources historians use? What makes a source reliable?
  • What do key terms- e.g. ‘conquest’, ‘empire’, ‘kingship’- mean?
  • What role in history is there for non-elite men?
  • Do minority groups have any power or identity? What were relations like between different groups?
  • Is the study of history useful today? Can history teach us anything relevant for the modern world?

It would be advisable to complete background reading before the course starts. If you would like to, you may start on tutorial reading in advance as well. It might be beneficial for your time management during the course to make a start on it.

Background Reading:

A very brief introduction to Alexander is provided in Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times, Thomas R. Martin, Yale University Press (2000), p. 187-197. See ‘The Creation of Macedonian Power’ (with links to ancient evidence too) here:

More in-depth is The Greek World 479-323 BC, Simon Hornblower (3rd Edition), Routledge (1985), chapter 19 ‘Alexander’ (online at; don’t worry if this is a challenging read, just get what you can from it)

These two videos provide a good overview (but be critical of these media):

‘Alexander the Great’ documentary (essentially a biography of Alexander’s life):

‘Alexander the Great’ (Epic History TV, good for the military aspects and key events during Alexander’s reign):

Essay 1 (tutorials 1-5): How successful was Alexander’s career?

Essay 2 (tutorials 6-10): What were Greek attitudes towards different groups in the period of Alexander and his early Successors?

These essays should be handed in by 5pm Thursday of that week. We will schedule two one-to-one tutorials towards the end of each week

Tutorial 1: What is History?

Primary sources:

The Histories, Herodotus, proem

The History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides, chapter I.1

The Annals, Tacitus, chapter I.1

Bibliotheke, Diodorus Siculus, chapter I.3

Aemilius, Plutarch, section 1

Note: Primary texts can be found online in English at (or other sites you can find on Google) and provides a summary of the above authors; this also applies to the other tutorial texts

Think about: Are these writers of history? What is their aim? How might their methods differ to that of a historian today?

Tutorial 2: The Sources on Alexander

Primary sources:

Anabasis, Arrian, I.1, I.12

Secondary literature:

Brill’s Companion to Alexander the Great, edited by Joseph Roisman (2003), chapter 1 (available online here with a one month free trial: Please remember to cancel the trial at the end of the course to ensure that you do not get billed.)

Think about: What is the aim of the sources? Are any more reliable than others?

Tutorial 3: Kingship and King’s image

Primary sources:

Diodorus Siculus Book XVII.17

Secondary literature:

Brill’s Companion to Alexander the Great, edited by Joseph Roisman (2003), chapter 2 esp. p. 31-50 with plates

Think about: What is the value of media other than literary texts? What are the attributes of a king in art? What are the qualities of a king?

Tutorial 4: Conquest and Empire

Primary Sources:

Anabasis, Arrian, VI.24-6, VII.1-4

Secondary Literature:

Brill’s Companion to Alexander the Great, edited by Joseph Roisman (2003), chapter 7

Think about: What is ‘to conquer’? Was this Alexander’s aim? Was Alexander Darius’ successor in the Achaemenid Empire?

Tutorial 5: Review

Tutorial 6: Women

Primary Sources:

Alexander, Plutarch, 1-10, 21, 68

Diodorus Siculus XVIII.48-9, XIX.11, 49-52

Secondary Literature:

Brill’s Companion to Alexander the Great, edited by Joseph Roisman (2003), chapter 9

For a comparison to the role of women elsewhere, see the following:

Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times, Thomas R. Martin, Yale University Press (2000), p. 67-9, 77-9 (See the references to women, land ownership, marriage and reproduction under ‘The Archaic Age’ and ‘The Late Archaic City State’ on the online version)

Republic, Plato, 451a-457b

Think about: What was the role of women in Alexander’s court? How were they treated by men? What rights did women have in the ancient world?

Tutorial 7: Pride and Prejudice

The Quest for the Tomb of Alexander the Great, Andrew Chugg (2nd edition, 2007), p. 25-34

The Trouble with Philip Arrhidaeus, Elizabeth Carney,

A Neurological Mystery from History: The Case of Claudius Caesar, Ali Murad, (scroll to the bottom, the second version is much clearer than the first)

Republic, Plato, 460c

Anabasis, Arrian, I.12, II.12, VII.4-5, 14

Diodorus Siculus XVII.114

Iliad, Homer, XXIV.1-10

Pelopidas, Plutarch, 18

Symposium, Plato, 178e–179a

Symposium, Xenophon, VIII.34-5

Sappho, fragment 2

Think about: Was disability a hindrance to elites at this time? What was the nature of the relationship between Hephaestion and Alexander? Were sexual relationships between males (or between females) acceptable?

Tutorial 8: ‘Barbarians’ and Cultural Mixing

‘barbaros’ in LSJ:\&d=Perseus:text:1999.01.0125:book=1:chapter=1:section=0&i=1#lexicon

‘Barbarians’ on

Politics, Aristotle, I.3-7

Republic, Plato, 469a-470e

Anabasis, Arrian, IV.10-12

‘Ay Kanom’ in Encyclopaedia Iranica (, use for pictures)

Think about: What was the meaning of the Greek noun ‘barbaros’? What was the Greek conception of the ‘barbarian’? Was there any cultural mixing?

Tutorial 9: Aftermath

The Greek World After Alexander 323-30 BC, Graham Shipley, Routledge (2000), chapter 2 esp. p. 33-51 (Google Books should contain these pages in the preview)

‘Seleucus I Nicator’ in Encyclopaedia Iranica

‘Alexandria’ in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Egypt (

Think about: Did Ptolemy and Seleucus rule over empires? Was there cultural mixing? Why was Alexander important to his successors in the aftermath of his death?

Tutorial 10: Review