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 8:30 - 9:20 am 
Place: 147 J. B. Hunt
Dr. Muntz's Office: 407 Old Main 
Office Hours: Tu 10:30-11:30am, W 1:00-2:00 pm, and by appointment
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 January 30. 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 / at this link.

Exams: There will be an in-class midterm on February 25, and a final exam on Monday, May 6, at 8:00 am. 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 February 8. 

Paper 2: 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 March 15. 

Paper 3: 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 April 26.

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: 3% 
Paper 1: 15% 
Paper 2: 15%
Paper 3: 15% 
Midterm: 15% 
Participation: 12% 
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 

Texts on Reserve in Mullins: 

Important studies and biographies of Alexander the Great

Bosworth, A. B. Conquest and Empire : the reign of Alexander the Great. 1988 
Cartledge, P. Alexander the Great : the hunt for a new past. 2004 
Green, P. Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.; a historical biography. 1971 
Heckel, Waldemar. Who's who in the age of Alexander the Great. 2004 
O’Brien, John. Alexander the Great : the invisible enemy. 1992. 

General books on the Hellenistic World
Bugh, G. R. The Cambridge companion to the Hellenistic world. 2006 
Erskine, A. A companion to the Hellenistic world. 2005 
Green, P.  Alexander to Actium.  1990.
Shipley, G. The Greek world after Alexander, 323-30 B.C. 2000 

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 (Under Revision)

Week 1 
January 14 - Introduction 

January 16 - Persia and the Greeks 

January 18 - The Sources for Alexander 

Week 2 
January 21 - MLK Day, no class

January 23 - Discussion: The Sources and the Youth of Alexander
    Diodorus 1.1-5
    Arrian, Book 1 preface
    Plutarch, Alexander 1-14

January 25 - The Accession to the Throne 
    Arrian 1.1-11

Week 3 
January 28 - Invasion of Persia 
    Arrian 1.12 (p. 23-28) 

January 30 - The Battle of the Granicus / Map Quiz 
    Arrian 1.13-1.29 
    Diodorus 17.17-21

February 1 - The Battle of the Issus 
    Arrian Book 2 

Week 4 
February 4 - Alexander in Egypt 
    Arrian 3.1-7

February 6 - Gaugamela 
    Arrian 3.8-3.30 

February 8 - The New King? / First Paper Due 
    Finish Arrian Book 3 

Week 5 
February 11 - Discussion: Alexander and Orientalism
    Arrian 4.1-15 
    Curtius 8.1-8

February 13 - The Invasion of India 
    Arrian 4.16-5.19 

February 15 - To the End of the World… 
    Arrian 5.20-6.19 

Week 6 
February 18 - The Return Home 
    Arrian 6.20-6.30, start Book 7 

February 20 - Discussion: The Death of Alexander
    Arrian Book 7 remainder 
    Plutarch, Alexander 70-77
    Diodorus Siculus 17.104-118

February 22 - The Legacy of Alexander

Week 7
February 25 - Midterm

February 27 - The Sources for the Hellenistic World

March 1 - Alexander’s Funeral Games 
    Errington 11-35 
    Austin #26-28, 30-31, 34-39 

Week 8 
March 4 - The Wars of the Diadochoi 
    Errington 36-76 
    Austin #47-59 

March 6 - Hellenistic Literature 1 
    Select works of Callimachus (Fowler p. 41-69) 
    Sections from Aratus (Fowler p. 251-258) 

March 8 - Macedon and the Greek states 1 
    Errington 79-110 
    Austin #60-77 

Week 9
March 11 - 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

March 13 - Hellenistic Art 1 

March 15 - Hellenistic Science / Paper 2 Due - Plutarch's Life of Eumenes - Nepos' Life of Eumenes

Spring Break! 

Week 10
March 25 - Seleucids 1 
    Errington 111-119 
    Austin #158-164, 166-184 

March 27 - Seleucids 2 and the Kingdom of Pergamum 
    Errington 119-142 
    Austin #185-194, 224-233 

March 29 - Hellenistic Art 2
    Apollonius: The Argonautica, Book 1 (in Fowler)

Week 11
April 1 - Discussion: Hellenistic Literature 2
    Apollonius: The Argonautica, Book 3 (in Fowler), Summary of Books 2 & 4

April 3 - Ptolemies 1 
    Errington 143-164 
    Austin #254, 256-260, 262-268, 271, 274-277, 283-284, 292-294

April 5 -  Ptolemies 2 
    Errington 165-180 
    Austin #296-299, 301-308, 312-315, 317, 319, 326 

Week 12
April 8 - Discussion: Ptolemies 3 
    Selections from the Diophanes Archive (Enteuxeis Papyri)

April 10 - Hellenistic Religion 
    Austin #42-46, 258, 295 

April 12 - 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)

Week 13
April 15 - The Coming of Rome 
    Errington 181-246 
    Austin #77-100 

April 17 - Rome and Hellenistic Culture 
    Errington 249-255 
    Plutarch, Life of Cato the Elder 

April 19 - No class, Dr. Muntz will be at a conference

Week 14
April 22 - The Decline of the East 
    Errington 256-278 
    Austin #195-210, 218-223 

April 24 - Discussion: Hellenism and the Jews
    1 Maccabees
    Austin #214-217 

April 26 - Hellenistic Art 3 / Final Paper Due 

Week 15

April 29 - End of the Hellenistic World 
    Errington 290-308 
    Austin #222-223, 286-291

May 1 - Epilogue