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Privatissimum Greek: Protagoras of Abdera: Sources and Echoes


Admission requirements

BA Classics


In this privatissimum students participate in preparing a (digital) edition and translation of the sources for the sophist Protagoras of Abdera and (potential) echoes of his thought, making use of a Virtual Research Environment (VRE) in the University Library. Possibilities of collecting, presenting and connecting information in a virtual environment will be developed and evaluated. Study of secondary literature on Protagoras, his cultural and philosophical context, and on the nature of the sources involved will be part of this course.

The material to be collected bears upon such questions as the Man-Measure statement, rhetoric, politics, the correct use of language. It comprises passages from (e.g.) Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Plutarch, Aelius Aristides, Athenaeus, Sextus Empiricus en Themistius, scholia, and material from the Byzantine period. Texts and translations already included in the VRE (e.g. from Plato, Aristotle, Diogenes Laertius, and from the extensive Commentary tradition) may be revised and annotated in correlation, employing experimental forms of making visible similarities and differences between the sources involved.

Course objectives

  • The competence to collect, edit, analyse, and translate primary Greek texts from different genres and periods and to annotate this material for a general public, in full awareness of the complications involved and the choices to be made. The interpretation of these texts requires a certain familiarity with the idiom involved and the cultural (including philosophical) context.

  • Acquintance with digital forms of making available and clarifying various sources from classical antiquity (and beyond) in correlation with each other and within the larger environment of digital humanities

  • Oral and written presentation.

  • Cooperation skills in discussing different ways of approaching portions of the material for presentation in the VRE as well as formulating constructive criticism on material offered for discussion by other participants of the research group.

Time and frequency of the meetings will be decided in consultation with the participants.
In practice, the activities for this privatissimum can be extended to the second semester.

Mode of instruction

Privatissimum: tutorial involving a large portion of research, both individual and as a team

Assessment method

  • Oral presentation of research questions (20%)

  • Active participation in class (10%)

  • Presentation of material in VRE (20%)

  • Paper (50%). When this class is taken for 5 ects, no final paper is required.


Communication between participants will take place in the Virtual Research Environment made available by the University Library.

Reading list

Before the start of this course students are requested to read, from
Johannes M. van Ophuijsen, Marlein van Raalte, & Peter Stork (edd.), Protagoras of Abdera: The Man, His Measure. Leiden 2013 (available in the University Library),
the following papers:
Noburu Notomi, ‘A Protagonist of the Sophistic Movement? Protagoras in Historiography’, pp. 11-36
Tazuko A. van Berkel, ‘Made to Measure: Protagoras’ μέτρον.’, pp. 37–67
Michele Corradi, ‘Τὸν ἥττω λόγον κρείττω ποιεῖν: Aristotle, Plato, and the ἐπάγγελμα of Protagoras.’, pp. 69–86
Adriaan Rademaker, ‘The Most Correct Account: Protagoras on Language.’, pp. 87–111.


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.


See timetables Classics and Ancient Civilizations.