BA Ancient History / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Dispute and Desire: the Erotics of Ancient Greek Literature

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE20282
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit enables students to develop an enhanced understanding of how erotic desire was represented, debated, and criticised in ancient Greek literature. Students will read texts from a wide range of temporal periods (ranging from the archaic period to the Second Sophistic), authors, and genres. They will encounter a correspondingly wide range of literary forms and strategies, including lyric poetry, epigram, and philosophical dialogue, and see eros presented in numerous guises. A focus on close reading will enable detailed scrutiny of the linguistic means by which the texts fashion meaning and create emotional effects.


CAHE30121 Advanced Greek 1 (higher is fine)


1. To introduce students to the varieties of style, language and narrative structure in ancient Greek ‘erotic’ writing.

2. To enable students to develop a sense of the effects created by erotic writing across a range of genres.

3. To enable students to carry out close and comparative reading of original texts, developing technical skills acquired in earlier Greek Language course units.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Have increased knowledge of the Ancient Greek language
  • Connect and compare different treatments of the theme of erotic desire in different periods and genres

Intellectual skills

  • Have increased ability to read and translate Ancient Greek
  • Develop critical reflection on the literary qualities of texts and the scholarly debates surrounding them
  • Be able to make a reasoned argument for a particular point of view regarding literary interpretation
  • Developed a basic understanding of how scansion and other technical aspects learned in Advanced Language courses can enhance interpretation

Practical skills

  • Have increased ability to use library, electronic and online resources to enhance the study of Ancient Greek texts
  • Engage with other members of the class in order to develop literary reading as a communal activity

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Attention to detail
  • Self-organisation and time-management
  • Teamwork

Assessment methods

Commentaries (50%)

Online exam (50%)

Feedback methods

Written feedback via Turnitin within three weeks

Recommended reading

S. Best and S. Marcus, ‘Surface Reading: An Introduction’, Representations 108.1 (2009), 1–21

T. Hubbard, ‘Pindar, Theoxenus, and the Homoerotic Eye’, Arethusa 32 (2002), 255–96

J. Rist, ‘Plutarch’s Amatorius: A Commentary on Plato’s Theories of Love’, CQ 51.2 (2001), 557–75

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

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