Ancient Historians

HIST 3013 / Fall

Herodotos Met 91.8

Bust of Herodotus, the Father of History

Instructor: Dr. Charles E. Muntz
Time: MWF 
Dr. Muntz's Office: 407 Old Main
Office Hours: 
Phone: (479) 575-5891


Survey of ancient historiography from Herodotus (5th c BCE) down to Ammianus Marcellinus (4th c CE). Topics include the development of ancient history, historical causality, military history, historical biography, use of polemic, Roman adaptations of Greek models, and the portrayal of the “other” in history.


Papers: There will be four five page papers for this class, each dealing with the problems of reading and interpreting ancient historians and understanding ancient historiography. The first will be comparing Herodotus' and Thucydides' presentation of the Persian Wars, the second will compare history and biography in Xenophon's Hellenica and Life of Agesilaus, the third will compare Greek and Roman Historiography with Polybius and Livy, and the fourth will analyze how Tacitus builds on all his predecessors in constructing the Annals.

Exams: There will be a final on TBD, consisting of essay questions.

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

Attendance: Regular attendance is important. I will allow each student to miss up to three classes without penalty to cover things like illness and religious observances. However, absences on discussion days or days when graded material is due are not permitted except by prior arrangement or in case of emergencies. Please email me in advance if you are going to miss class. For each absence after the first three, unless there is a serious problem, I will lower the final participation grade by 10 points. If you do have to miss a class, make sure you meet with another student to find out what you missed!

Grade Breakdown:
Paper 1: 15% 
Paper 2: 15% 
Paper 3: 15%
Paper 4: 15%
Discussion: 20% 
Final: 20%

Reading Materials

Required texts (available at bookstore or buy online):
Hamilton, Walter, trans. Ammianus Marcellinus: The Later Roman Empire. ISBN 9780140444063
Hammond, Martin. Thucydides: The Peloponnesian War. ISBN 9780192821911
Sélincourt, Aubrey de, trans. Livy: The War with Hannibal. ISBN 9780140441451
Strassler, Robert B., ed. The Landmark Herodotus. ISBN 9781400031146
Warner, Rex, trans. Xenophon: A History of My Times. ISBN 9780140441758
Woodman, A. J. Sallust: Catiline's War, The Jugurthine War, Histories. ISBN 9780140449488.
Woodman, A. J., trans. Tacitus: The Annals. ISBN 9780872205581

Other readings will be linked from the daily assignments listed below.

Super resource if you need to look up a person or topic (much better than Wikipedia or other web sources):
The Oxford Classical Dictionary (Off campus link)


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: Classes will be held unless the University cancels them.

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 26: Introduction

August 28: Herodotus and the Invention of History
    Herodotus Book 1

August 30: Herodotus and Ethnography
    Herodotus Book 1

Week 2
September 2: Labor Day, no class

September 4: Herodotus and Egyptian History
    Herodotus Book 2

September 6: Herodotus Discussion 1
    Herodotus Book 2

Week 3
September 9: Herodotus and Egypt Conclusions
    Herodotus Book 2

September 11: Herodotus and the Growth of Persia
    Herodotus Book 3

September 13: Herodotus Discussion 2
    Herodotus Book 3

Week 4
September 16: Thucydides and Scientific History
    Thucydides Book 1

September 18: Thucydides and the Growth of Empire
    Thucydides Book 1

September 20: Thucydides Discussion 1
    Thucydides Book 2

Week 5
September 23: Thucydides and the Decadence of Athens
    Thucydides Book 2

September 25: Thucydides and Stasis
    Thucydides Book 3

September 27: Thucydides Discussion 2
    Thucydides Book 4 and 5 excerpts

Week 6
September 30: Historiography after Thucydides / First Paper due

October 2: Xenophon and Sparta
    Xenophon: Hellenica Book 4

October 4: Xenophon and Panhellenism
    Xenophon: Hellenica Book 5

Week 7
October 7: Xenophon Discussion
    Xenophon: Hellenica Book 6

October 9: Hellenistic Historiography / Second Paper due

October 11: Polybius: A Greek Historian of Rome
    Polybius Book 1

Week 8
October 14: Polybius and the 1st Punic War
    Polybius Book 1, start Book 3

October 16: Polybius Discussion 1
    Polybius Book 3

October 18: Polybius and the Roman Republic
    Polybius Book 6

Week 9
October 21: Fall Break, no class

October 23: Polybius and Leadership
    Polybius Book 8-11 excerpts

October 25: Polybius Discussion 2
    Polybius Book 12

Week 10
October 28: Sallust and Thucydides
    Sallust: War with Catiline

October 30: Sallust and the Invention of Roman Historiography
    Sallust: Start War with Jugurtha 

November 1: Sallust Discussion
    Sallust: Finish War with Jugurtha

Week 11
November 4: Livy and the Roman Past
    Livy Book 1 Preface, Book 21.1-38

November 6: Livy and Hannibal
    Livy Book 21.39-63, 22.1-10

November 8: Livy and Cannae
    Livy Book 2.11-61

Week 12
November 11: Livy Discussion
    Livy Book 24.27-39, 25.23-31, 26.41-51, 30.27-45

November 13: Imperial Historiography / Third Paper due

November 15: Tacitus and the Principate
    Tacitus Annals Book 1

Week 13
November 18: Tacitus Discussion 1
    Tacitus Annals Book 2

November 20: Tacitus and the Barbarians
    Tacitus Annals Book 3

November 22: Tacitus and Sejanus
    Tacitus Annals Book 4

Week 14
November 25: Tacitus Discussion 2
    Tacitus Annals Book 6

November 27: Thanksgiving break, no class

November 29: Thanksgiving break, no class

Week 15
December 2: The Last Roman Historian
    Ammianus Marcellinus Books 20-21

December 4: Ammianus Marcellinus and Julian the Apostate
    Ammianus Marcellinus Books 22-23

December 6: Ammianus Marcellinus Discussion
    Ammianus Marcellinus Books 24-25

Week 16
December 9: How (not) to write history
    Lucian: How to write history

December 11: Epilogue and Review / Fourth Paper due