February Reading List

Back in January I set an ambitious reading goal for 2022, one article read per working day, and resolved to do a monthly wrap-up for accountability. I am generally happy with the returns even though some busyness in my schedule at the end of February caused me to fall a little bit short this month as well.

Without further ado, here is the list and a handful of honorable mentions for the favorite things I read.

Honorable Mentions

  • David Lewis, “Near Eastern Slaves in Classical Attica and the Slave Trade with Persian Territories,” Classical Quarterly 61 (2011): 91–113
  • James Roy, “The Son of Pharnabazos and Parapita, A Persian Competing in the Olympic Games: Xenophon Hellenica 4.1.39–40,” Classica et Mediaevalia 68 (2020): 119–34
  • Dominique Lenfant, “Eunuchs as the Guardians of Women: Orientalism and Back Projection in Modern Scholarship,” Greek Roman and Byzantine Studies 61 (2021): 456–74

The List

  • Anna Novokhatko, “The Wetted Sponge, the Wretched Rho, and other Greek evidence for Scribal Work,” Glotta 96 (2020): 148–73
  • V.L. Konstantinopoulos, “The Persian Wars and Political Conflicts in Athens,” British Institute of Classical Studies 124 (2013), 63–5
  • Rachel Bruzzone, “Killing the Past in Thucydides’ Plataean Debate,” Classical Philology 110 (2015): 289–300
  • Andrew G. Scott, “Spartan courage and the social function of Plutarch’s Lacaonian apophthegms,” Museum Helveticum 74, no. 1 (2017): 34–53
  • Andrew T. Alwine, “Freedom and Patronage in Athenian Democracy,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 136 (2016): 1–17
  • Christina Skelton, “Greek-Anatolian Language Contact and the Settlement of Pamphylia,” Classical Antiquity 36, no. 1 (2017): 104–29
  • Garrett Ryan, “Building Order,” Classical Antiquity 37, no. 1 (2018): 151–85
  • John O. Hyland, “Contesting Marathon: Billows Krentz, and the Persian Problem,” Classical Philology 106, no. 3 (2011): 265–77 (review article)
  • Richard Rawles, “Lysimeleia (Thucydides 7.52, Theocritus 16.84): What Thucydides Does not Tell us about the Sicilian Expedition,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 135 (2015): 132–46
  • Christian Mann, “Campaign Agones: Towards a Classification of Grek Athletic Competitions,
    Classica et Mediaevalia 68 (2020): 99–117
  • Mait Kõiv, “Greek Rulers and Imperial Powers in Western Anatolia (8th–6th Centuries BC),” Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica 27, no. 2 (2021): 357–72
  • Aynur-Michele-Sara Karatas, “Greek Cults and Their Sacred Laws on Dress Codes,” Classical World 113, no. 2 (2020): 147–70
  • Krzysztof Nawotka, “Seleukos I and the Origin of the Seleukid Dynastic Image,
    Scripta Classical Israelica 36 (2017): 31–43
  • Marloes Deene, “Naturalized Citizens and Social Mobility in Classical Athens: the case of Apollodorus,” Greece and Rome 58, no. 2 (2011): 159–75
  • Benjamin M. Sullivan, “In the Shadow of Phoenicia: North Syria and “Palestinian Syria” in Herodotus,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 138 (2018): 67–79

Previous Months

January

Hypothetically Speaking: a Greek History class reading list

This post has been updated and archived here.

One of my favorite things about my current job is that, despite being a contingent position, it has given me license to start thinking about the types of courses I might want to teach and provided a framework in which to conceive of them. As last semester wore down I started to mull over what I would assign for an 8-week summer graduate course on Greek history.

(An actual course would probably have to be “ancient history” or somesuch, more broadly construed, but indulge me here.)

The imagined audience for this course is aspiring history teachers with little or no background in the classical languages. My goal was to construct a reading list that a) gives a glimpse at some of what I see as core issues to Greek history as they emerge in recent scholarship, b) challenges traditional narratives about Greek history, and c) avoids leaning too hard on literary or linguistic analysis.

This is the reading list I came up with:

  • Johanna Hanink, The Classical Debt (Harvard: 2017)
  • Naoise Mac Sweeny, Foundation Myths and Politics in Ancient Ionia (Cambridge: 2013)
  • Stephen Hodkinson, Property and Wealth in Classical Sparta (Duckworth: 2000)
  • David Yates, States of Memory (Oxford: 2019)
  • Rebecca Futo Kennedy, Immigrant Women in Athens (Routledge: 2014)
  • Kostas Vlassopoulos, Greeks and Barbarians (Cambridge: 2013)
  • John Hyland, Persian Interventions (Johns Hopkins: 2017)
  • Paul Kosmin, The Land of the Elephant Kings (Harvard: 2014)

I particularly wanted to avoid any book that used as its focus one of the big wars in Greek history because those books abound, though I did consider Jenny Robert’s The Plague of War (Oxford: 2017), and, I was likewise leery of any book that too completely centered Athens, though Joan Connelly’s The Parthenon Enigma (Penguin: 2014). Rather, I wanted to steer into persistent misunderstandings about Ancient Greece, giving the (imagined) students material that they were likely going to be unfamiliar with and that they might be able to use in how they teach the subject. This meant books that situated events they might see elsewhere in a broader context or inverted what they might have learned elsewhere.

Two issues with this list as currently constructed:

First. Kosmin’s volume feels to me like a token Hellenistic book that might be better to given over to something like Clara Bosak-Schroeder’s Other Natures (University of California Press: 2020) or another book on historiography. I ultimately excluded Other Natures just because I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

Second. Slavery appears in these volumes as a secondary consideration rather than as the primary focus. Given the prominence of slavery in Greek society this might be a grave oversight.

Finally, a request. Tell me why any of my choices won’t work and, in the sense that I am always looking for bibliography, tell me what I missed.

Preparing for class and my undergraduate experience

The process of preparing for class makes me try to remember about my undergraduate courses. In terms of specifics, the answer is not much. Obviously I absorbed a good deal of content that I am now able to speak with varying levels of confidence about, but much less stands out about the actual classes.

Take, for instance, the equivalent of the course that I am now teaching—a survey of Greek history. I remember my professor’s opening spiel about the etymology of history and how it comes from a root that has to do with judgement, I remember bantering with a friend of mine who also went on to get a PhD in ancient history, and I remember one of the other students making a diorama from wax sculptures after taking the wax from individually wrapped cheese “cuties.” And some of those memories could easily be from other classes with this professor.

Most of all, though, I remember loving the class (and other classes like it) because the professor gave us room to explore long sections of ancient sources, even to the extent of seeming disconnected and disorganized. In fact, I remember having an argument with a fellow student in a class in another department altogether because this student hated the disorganization, feeling that it meant that she wasn’t learning anything. I vehemently disagreed at the time, which was something of a running theme in a course that had us working in a group for most of the semester. Believe it or not, we actually worked pretty well as a team.

Before laying blame on the professor, though, reflection shows this limitation of my memory is true even in courses with amazing lecturers. For instance, I have clearer memories about my favorite college lecturer declaring that blue exam booklets were the ideal form for writing lectures in, the fact that the Anatolian peninsula is, north to south, the international measurement unit “one Kansas,” and his apologies for the boring but necessary excursuses on medieval agriculture. Or that in the last week of class he never failed to take a photograph with a disposable camera and that I invariably left class every day with an aching hand. That pain and some later sweat ensures that I can go back to my notes if necessary, but, once again, I don’t remember much at any given moment.

I could go on, but there is one particular exception: language classes. The memories are almost certainly just as flawed, but I remember the act of being there, the feel and the look of the book chapters, and all of the things Homer taught to his brother. More to the point, my memories of language courses are clearer regardless of whether I liked or disliked the teaching styles of the professors. I don’t know why, exactly—maybe I found languages more difficult and so the classes left a deeper impression or the way that I learned the languages was tied to the classroom in a way that history never war—but the division in my memories is real.

Obviously I learned facts from these courses that, ten years later, have been baked into the collection of knowledge tucked into the dusty corners of my mind or else that I have forgotten. I also learned note-taking skills, research habits, a critical eye for source criticism, and something of writing. (Less by way of common sense, however, even if one of the professors mentioned above did try to warn me off of graduate school.)

I think about all of this when I am preparing for my own class. My class is just too large to toss the textbook in favor of embracing the glorious confusion of reading sources together, and I feel some responsibility cover a certain number of topics in a survey of Greek history. I tend, therefore, to err on the side of structured lectures with a powerpoint presentation modeled on the US history survey courses that form the large portion of the teaching styles I have seen in recent years. There is only so much that can be covered, so, in this sense, I look to give students a taste along with some tools to learn more.

At the same time, though, I think back to being encouraged to engage in forms of source analysis and informal, seminar-style debate with great fondness. Unstructured though those may have been, they also reflected active learning at its finest. As much as this form of class worked for me, ironically, it often takes a leap of faith for me to try it from the other side of the table (so to speak). I will probably never abandon lectures altogether in a class like this where there are details that I hope will encourage students to go out and learn more, but at the same time I am always looking for new activities where the students can grapple with the primary material together or on their own because, more than the lectures, that is often what I remember being most useful from my undergraduate experience. This experience didn’t do me any favors in terms of downloading and debating historiography for graduate school, but in the more universal tasks of evaluating how a source is presenting the world and challenging its prevailing biases, it is absolutely essential.