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Tutorial Greek: Thucydides the Involved Narrator: Linguistics and the Interpretation of Ancient Greek War Narrative


Admission requirements

This course is open to MA and research MA students in Classics and Ancient Civilizations (specialization Classics).

The course will be taught in Dutch or English, depending on the first language of participating students.


The Histories of Thucydides offer an impressive report of the horrors of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Though Thucydides has long been regarded as the first ‘scientific’ and ‘objective’ historian, scholars of the last few decades increasingly tended to view him as an involved reporter with a clear bias of his own.

Modern text-linguistics and narratology offer the tools to analyze how the narrator in Thucydides succeeds in constructing an image of himself as the expert par excellence on human behavior in war and civil war, and at the same time in communicating by innuendo his own views to his readership. In class, we will analyze and discuss selected purple passages from Thucydides’ work in order to observe a master narrator at the height of his powers.

Course objectives

  • Students learn how to give a linguistic and narratological analysis of rich and complex narrative, argumentative and descriptive texts from Thucydides’ Histories;

  • Students get acquainted with modern theories in the fields of text linguistics and narratology;

  • Students get training in the reading of complex Greek prose of superlative quality.


See timetables Classics and Ancient Civilisations

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Students are required to take an oral examination on a selection of Thucydidean texts (2 ec, ca. 60 pp. OCT), and to present a paper on a selected passage of around 4 pp. OCT.

If this class is taken for 10 EC, students are also required to present their findings in a written presentation of 20-25 pages.


In this course we do not make use of Blackboard.

Reading list

A critical edition of Thucydides, preferably the OCT (Henr. Stuart Jones & Joh. Enoch Powell (Oxford Classical Texts, 2 vols.)


Via uSis


Dhr. Dr. A.M. Rademaker