Alexander the Great & the Hellenistic World

HIST 4013 / Fall 2015

Alexander mosaic

The Battle of the Issus. Alexander is on the far left, Darius is right of center.  Mosaic from Pompeii, 1st century CE

Instructor: Dr. Charles E. Muntz
Time: MWF 12:55-1:45 pm 
Place: 309 Peabody Hall
Dr. Muntz's Office: 407 Old Main 
Office Hours: Tu 10-11 am, W 2-3 pm
Phone: (479) 575-5891 


The class will examine one of the most famous figures of the ancient world, Alexander the Great, and the new political and social order that he helped create. We begin with Alexander’s early life and the political situation that caused his father Philip II to plan an invasion of Persia. After Philip’s death we will follow Alexander as he fulfills his father’s goals, and then moves well beyond them as he takes his army as far as India. We will conclude our study of Alexander by looking at his legacy and influence both in the ancient world and the modern. In the second part of the course we will examine the Diadochoi, the successors of Alexander the Great. But we will look at not only the political and military history of this period, but also the intellectual and artistic achievements that helped to spread Hellenistic culture all over the Mediterranean and Near East. Finally we will look at the coming of Rome, and the role that Hellenistic culture and society played in the formation of the Roman Empire. 


Quiz: There will be a short (5 minute) map quiz on September 9. The list of places to know is here, and a blank map for practice is here. A labeled map can be found following page xiv of the Errington textbook.

Exams: There will be an in-class midterm on October 5, and a final exam on Friday, December 18, 10:15-12:15. Both will consist of identification and essay questions. NB - Students are again responsible for providing their own blue books at exams.

Paper 1: The first paper (5 pages) will evaluate two accounts of the same event which both drew on the same original, due September 18. 

Paper 2 (Undergraduates)The second paper (5 pages) will be comparing and contrasting biographies written by Nepos and Plutarch (follow links for the texts) of the Greek general Eumenes, due October 26. 

Paper 3 (Undergraduates): The third paper (5 pages) will be composing a memo from the fictitious city of Poseidonia describing the preparations for the visit of a Hellenistic king, due December 4.

Paper 2 (Graduates): The second paper will be a 10 page research paper on a topic chosen in consultation with the professor, due December 4. Please come and see me before the end of October. You can find helpful links for research here.

Formatting guidelines 
Grading policies

Participation: Certain class periods are set aside for class discussions. Questions based on the primary sources to get things started can be found here, but feel free to raise other issues or questions on your own. Grading policies for discussions can be found here. 

Attendance: Regular attendance is important. I will allow each student to miss up to three classes without penalty to cover things such as illness or religious observances. Please email me in advance if you are going to miss class. For each absence after the first three I will lower the final participation grade by 10 points, except in cases of a serious long-term issue. If you do have to miss a class, make sure you meet with another student to find out what you missed! 

Grading Breakdown:
Map Quiz: 2% 
Paper 1: 15% 
Paper 2: 15% (30% for graduates)
Paper 3: 15% (n/a for graduates)
Midterm: 15% 
Participation: 13% 
Final: 25% 

Reading Materials 

Information on Transliterating Greek text 

Required Texts:
Errington, R. Malcolm. A History of the Hellenistic World 323-30 BC. Blackwell Publishing, 2008. ISBN 0631233881
Austin, Michel. The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest. 2nd ed. Cambridge UP, 2006. ISBN 0521535611
Romm, James, ed. The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander. ISBN 1400079675
Fowler, Barbara. Hellenistic Poetry: An Anthology. Wisconsin, 1990. ISBN 0299125343 

Online translations of Alexander sources
Plutarch: Life of Alexander
Diodorus Siculus Book 17: Chapters 1-16 Chapters 17-39 Chapters 40-63 Chapters 64-83 Chapters 84-103 Chapters 104-118
Justin’s Epitome of Pompeius Trogus: Book 11 Book 12


Academic Integrity: As a core part of its mission, the University of Arkansas provides students with the opportunity to further their educational goals through programs of study and research in an environment that promotes freedom of inquiry and academic responsibility. Accomplishing this mission is  only possible when intellectual honesty and individual integrity prevail.

Each University of Arkansas student is required to be familiar with and abide by the University’s ‘Academic Integrity Policy’ which may be found at Students with questions about how these policies apply to a particular course or assignment should immediately contact their instructor.

Equal Access: University of Arkansas Academic Policy Series 1520.10 requires that students with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodations to ensure their equal access to course content. If you have a documented disability and require accommodations, please contact me privately at the beginning of the semester to make arrangements for necessary classroom adjustments. Please note, you must first verify your eligibility for these through the Center for Educational Access (contact 479-575-3104 or visit for more information on registration procedures). 

Inclement Weather: If the University stops running the Razorback Bus System because of snow or bad weather, there will be no class. Otherwise, class is on! 

Miscellaneous: Please turn off and put away all cell phones and any other non-course related items and finish any food you might be eating before coming into class. Drinks are acceptable. Please remain seated during class - if you need to use the lavatory, do so before or after class. 

Daily Topics and Reading Assignments

Week 1 
August 24 - Introduction 

August 26 - Persia and the Greeks 

August 28 - The Sources for Alexander 

Week 2 
August 31 - Discussion: The Sources and the Youth of Alexander
    Arrian, Book 1 preface
    Diodorus 1.1-5
    Plutarch, Alexander 1-14

September 2 - The Accession to the Throne 
    Arrian 1.1-11

September 4 - Invasion of Persia 
    Arrian 1.12 (p. 23-28) 

Week 3 
September 7 - Labor Day, No class

September 9 - The Battle of the Granicus / Map Quiz 
    Arrian 1.13-1.29 
    Diodorus 17.17-21

September 11 - The Battle of the Issus 
    Arrian Book 2 

Week 4 
September 14 - Alexander in Egypt 
    Arrian 3.1-7

September 16 - Gaugamela 
    Arrian 3.8-3.30 

September 18 - The New King? / First Paper Due 
    Finish Arrian Book 3 

Week 5 
September 21 - Discussion: Alexander and Orientalism
    Arrian 4.1-15 
    Curtius 8.1-8

September 23 - The Invasion of India 
    Arrian 4.16-5.19 

September 25 - To the End of the World… 
    Arrian 5.20-6.19 

Week 6 
September 28 - The Return Home 
    Arrian 6.20-6.30, start Book 7 

September 30 - Discussion: The Death of Alexander
    Arrian Book 7 remainder 
    Plutarch, Alexander 70-77
    Diodorus Siculus 17.104-118

October 2 - The Legacy of Alexander

Week 7
October 5 - Midterm

October 7 - The Sources for the Hellenistic World

October 9 - Alexander’s Funeral Games 
    Errington 11-35 
    Austin #26-28, 30-31, 34-39 

Week 8 
October 12 - The Wars of the Diadochoi 
    Errington 36-76 
    Austin #47-59 

October 14 - Hellenistic Literature 1 
    Select works of Callimachus (Fowler p. 41-69) 
    Sections from Aratus (Fowler p. 251-258) 

October 16 - Macedon and the Greek states 1 
    Errington 79-110 
    Austin #60-77 

Week 9
October 19 - Fall Break, no class 

October 21 - Macedon and the Greek states 2 
    Austin #101-105, 107-113, 115, 117-118, 122-124, 129-130, 132, 135, 136-138, 142-143, 148, 150, 156

October 23 - Hellenistic Art 1

Week 10
October 26 -  Hellenistic Science / Second Paper DuePlutarch's Life of Eumenes - Nepos' Life of Eumenes

October 28 - Seleucids 1 
    Errington 111-119 
    Austin #158-164, 166-184

October 30 - Seleucids 2 and the Kingdom of Pergamum 
    Errington 119-142 
    Austin #185-194, 224-233

Week 11
November 2 - Hellenistic Art 2
    Apollonius: The Argonautica, Book 1 (in Fowler) & Summary of Book 2

November 4 - Hellenistic Philosophy
    Apollonius: The Argonautica, Book 3

November 6 -  Discussion: Hellenistic Literature 2
    Apollonius: The Argonautica, Book 4 (in Fowler)

Week 12
November 9 - Ptolemies 1 
    Errington 143-164 
    Austin #254, 256-260, 262-268, 271, 274-277, 283-284, 292-294

November 11 - Ptolemies 2 
    Errington 165-180 
    Austin #296-299, 301-308, 312-315, 317, 319, 326 

November 13 - Discussion: Ptolemies 3 
    Selections from the Diophanes Archive (Enteuxeis Papyri)

Week 13
November 16 - Hellenistic Religion 
    Austin #42-46, 258, 295

November 18 - Discussion: Hellenistic Literature 3
    Select poems of Theocritus (Fowler p. 3-37) 
    Select mimes of Herodas (Fowler p. 235-248) 
    Moschus, Europa (Fowler p. 261-265)

November 20 - The Coming of Rome 
    Errington 181-246 
    Austin #77-100

Week 14
November 23 - Rome and Hellenistic Culture 
    Errington 249-255 
    Plutarch, Life of Cato the Elder

November 25 - Thanksgiving Break, no class

November 27 - Thanksgiving Break, no class

Week 15

November 30 - The Decline of the East 
    Errington 256-278 
    Austin #195-210, 218-223

December 2 -  Discussion: Hellenism and the Jews
    1 Maccabees
    Austin #214-217

December 4 - Hellenistic Art 3 / Final Paper Due 

Week 16

December 7 - End of the Hellenistic World 
    Errington 290-308 
    Austin #222-223, 286-291

December 9 - Epilogue