The Hellenistic World

Module code: AH3701

In many ways, the Hellenistic World is the most Greek of all periods – with spectacular architecture, widespread democratic institutions, and cosmopolitan culture. The Hellenistic World includes all areas of the Mediterranean and the Near East that were conquered by Alexander of Macedon (336–323 BCE) and his successors. These areas formed part of a cultural milieu of great variety and complexity, but one that was to some degree united by the presence of Greek ideas, Greek institutions and the Greek language.

This module will examine the period from the death of Alexander the Great to the end of the Ptolemaic kingdom (323-30 BCE). You won’t just be looking at straight chronology, of course; you will explore the myriad societies that participated in what we might term ‘the Hellenistic world’ and the developments and interactions that went along with that. The module will cover the main outlines of the political history of the Hellenistic kingdoms, as well as their institutions, structures of power, economies, and cultural and religious systems. It will pay particular attention to major shifts and developments associated with this period: the changing nature(s) of poleis and cities, cultural change and continuity (especially in terms of civic/political structures, and philosophical and religious developments), cultural interaction (including important theoretical discussions of acculturation, cultural conflict, and resistance), and the nature of Hellenistic historiography and the limitations of the evidence available.

This module is delivered through a series of pre-recorded lectures, guided readings, and self-assessment exercises, so you can track your own progress as you come to grips with the wonderful variety of the Hellenistic world. Assessment for this module includes a pre-recorded presentation, and a research essay.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • Sources for Hellenistic history
  • The evolution of democracy
  • Kingship and its construction
  • Women and gender
  • Federalism
  • The nature of poleis
  • War and its impacts
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