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The “Other” in Classical Greece and the Hellenistic World: Women, Foreigners and Slaves


Admission requirements

BSA norm and a pass for both first year Themacolleges


Today, ancient Greece is widely known – and admired – as the cradle of Western civilization and in particular Athens as the birthplace of democracy and as a society founded on freedom and equality. Yet, a closer look reveals a more sobering historical reality and gives us reason to think otherwise. Judging by modern standards, many of us would find the societies of the ancient Greek world, including democratic ones, undesirable, unjust and driven by inequality. For it was only native, adult, free males who, as citizens, had the right participate in government. The best-known case to illustrate the point is that of classical Athens: Given that fully enfranchised Athenian citizens made up approximately one sixth of the overall population (at the very best), there were many more outside the ‘citizen club’ than in it. Excluded by definition were children, women, metics (i.e. resident aliens), and enslaved people.

In this course, we will explore the position of those groups of the Greek classical and Hellenistic societies who were explicitly marginalised or excluded from the public life. What was their life and everyday reality like? What did it mean to be a slave, a foreigner or a woman in the societies of classical Greece and the Hellenistic world? How were they perceived and treated, how did they see themselves, and what could they do to improve their condition and lead a more or less fulfilling life? Examining these and similar questions will allow us to gain a better understanding of the ways inclusion and exclusion, stigmatization and appreciation operated in the classical Greek and Hellenistic worlds, and how they impacted the lived experiences of their inhabitants.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

  • 1) carry out a common assignment

  • 2) devise and conduct research of limited scope, including

a. searching, selecting and ordering relevant literature:

b. organising and using relatively large amounts of information:

c. an analysis of a scholarly debate:

d. placing the research within the context of a scholarly debate.

  • 3) reflect on the primary sources on which the scholarly literature is based;

  • 4) write a problem solving essay and give an oral presentation after the format defined in the first year Themacolleges, including

a. using a realistic schedule of work;

b. formulating a research question and subquestions;

c. formulating a well-argued conclusion;

d. giving and receiving feedback;

e. responding to instructions of the lecturer.

  • 5) participate in discussions during class.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialization

  • 6) The student has knowledge of a specialisation, more specifically in the specialisation Ancient History, of the Classical Antiquity, with an emphasis on the period 400 B.C. to 400 A.D.; socioeconomic structures; the ancient city; mentality history; ancient religion; cultural contact.

  • 7) Knowledge and insight in the main concepts, the research methods and techniques of the specialisation, more specifically in the specialisation Ancient History, on ancient texts and archaeological sources; source criticism and contextualisation; acculturalisation theory.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this specific seminar

The student:

  • 8) gains the knowledge and understanding of the social structure in the ancient Greek and Hellenistic world;

  • 9) acquires understanding of gender and social roles in Greek antiquity;

  • 10) gains insight into scholarly debates on personal status and social mobility in classical Greece and the Hellenistic world;

  • 11) learns how to deal with literature related to the topic.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (attendance required)

This means that students have to attend every session of the course. If you are not able to attend, you are required to notify the teacher beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If you do not comply with the aforementioned requirements, you will be excluded from the seminar.

Assessment method


  • Written paper (5000-6000 words, based on historiography, excluding title page, table of contents, footnotes and bibliography)

*measured learning objectives: 2-4, 6–11

  • Oral presentation

*measured learning objectives: 3-4, 6–11

  • Participation in class discussion

measured learning objectives: 5

  • Assignment 1: Presenting the essay introduction and collecting the bibliography.

*measured learning objectives: 2, 4–11


  • Written paper: 60%

  • Oral presentation: 20%

  • Particiation: 10%

  • Assignment 1: 10%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.


The written paper can be revised, when marked insufficient. Revision should be carried out within the given deadline, as published in the corresponding Brightspace course.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised. 

Reading list

Reading materials will be announced in Brightspace at the start of the course.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga.


Not applicable