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Tutorial Greek: Ancient Education


Admission requirements

This course is open to MA and research MA students in Classics and Ancient Civilizations (specialization Classics). Admission requirements for other students: a BA degree in Classics obtained from a university in the Netherlands, or a comparable qualification obtained from a university outside the Netherlands. Moreover, students with an international degree have to contact the coordinator of studies to check admissibility.


What was education like in ancient Greece and Rome? What did students learn, and how did they learn it? How did education differ across time and space, and what elements remained constant? Who learned what, and why?

Students will read ancient descriptions of education (Greek sources in Greek, Latin sources in translation) and modern scholarly work on the topic. We shall also look at ancient educational materials (both those surviving on papyrus and those transmitted, perhaps in altered form, via the medieval manuscript tradition) and discuss how they may have been used. Whenever practical, students will do the ancient exercises themselves in order to achieve a greater understanding of the ancient experience.

We shall start with the type of education for which we have the most direct evidence, that of Greek speakers during the Roman empire. We shall then consider what is known about the education of Greek speakers at earlier periods, particularly classical Athens and Sparta. Lastly we shall examine the education of Latin speakers. Within each time and place education also varied by subject matter: once they had mastered basic literacy and grammar students might learn rhetoric, literary criticism, mathematics, law, music, etc. Of these areas we shall concentrate on rhetoric because it is the best represented in surviving evidence. Which other subjects we examine, and indeed the extent to which advanced education in other subjects is examined at all, will be determined in consultation with the students.

Course objectives

  • Achieving a broad general understanding of the goals, methods, and topics of ancient education, with a detailed understanding of one or two topics in that field;

  • Practicing critical assessment of different educational techniques and of modern scholarship on them;

  • Enlarging reading and interpretive competence of Greek texts;

  • Enhancing writing skills;

  • Enhancing research skills.

Extra course objective for Res Ma students:

  • The ability to interpret a potentially complex corpus of sources

  • The ability to identify new approaches within existing academic debates

  • Knowledge of the interdisciplinary aspects of the specialisation


See timetables Classics and Ancient Civilizations

Mode of instruction

  • Tutorial

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 10 ec = 280 hours

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 4 hours per week for half the semester = 28 hours

  • Time for preparing the classes and doing written homework: 4 hours per class = 56 hours

  • Time for reading the Greek pensum: 100 hours

  • Time to prepare paper (including reading / research): 96 hours

Assessment method

  • Class participation and preparation (10%)

  • Written homework (20%)

  • Research paper (30%)

  • Final oral examination on Greek texts (40%)

Reading list

A final reading list will be determined in consultation with the students. It will include text in Greek equivalent in length to two tragedies, together with works in English (including Latin texts in translation). The following are likely to appear on it:

  • Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus (selections)

  • Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaemonians (selections)

  • Quintilian, The orator’s education

  • St Augustine, Confessions book 1 (selections)

  • R. Cribiore, Writing, teachers, and students in Graeco-Roman Egypt (Atlanta 1996)

  • E. Dickey, The Colloquia of the Hermeneumata Pseudodositheana (Cambridge 2012-15)

  • R.F. Hock and E.N. O’Neil, The chreia in ancient rhetoric (Atlanta 1986-2001)


via uSis


Prof. dr. E. Dickey
Prof. dr. Ineke Sluiter


  • Students are required to attend the classes regularly, to be fully prepared and to join the discussions.

  • The course will be taught in English.