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CLASSICS 2K03 Society:Greece&Rome

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Barbara Scarfo



Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: Mondays, 11.30 – 1.30 PM (or by appointment)

Course Objectives:

In this course we shall explore various aspects of Greek and Roman society using ancient texts (including legal speeches, historical accounts, correspondence, plays, etc.), material culture, and epigraphic evidence. Topics covered shall include: the family and life within the household, women, slavery, prostitution, dining culture and entertainment, personal politics, death, and funerary commemoration.


**As this is a course that examines Greek and Roman society, please be aware that some of the subjects that we will address are sensitive in nature and will be discussed in a respectful manner**

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Joseph Roisman (Translations by J. C. Yardley), Ancient Greece from Homer to Alexander (2011), Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


  • Please note that some of the readings in Roisman that you are responsible for are found online on the textbook’s website: (see page xxxiv). If it is necessary for you to access material on the site, it will be indicated on the schedule (see below).


Jo-Ann Shelton, As the Romans Did. A Sourcebook in Roman Social History (2nd Edition) (1998), Oxford University Press.

Method of Assessment:

1. Mid-term exam: 30% (2 February 2017)

2. Mid-term exam: 30% (16 March 2017)

3. Final exam: 40% (to be scheduled by the Registrar)

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Week 1 (4 – 5 January)


Introduction to the course

No Readings


Introduction to the Ancient Greeks

Roisman, Introduction


Week 2 (9 – 12 January)


Greek Courtship and Marriage

Roisman, Chapter 2 WEB (2.3), Chapter 7 (pp. 105-107), Chapter 12 (pp. 168-170, 177-180)


Family and the Oikos

Roisman, Chapter 1 (pp. 27-32), Chapter 7 (p. 99), Chapter 19 (pp. 279-280) and WEB (19.12), Chapter 37 (pp. 508-509, 511-513) and WEB (37.11)


Greek Women

Roisman, Chapter 1 WEB (1.3), Chapter 2 (pp. 44), and Chapter 37 (pp. 509-511, 513-517)


Week 3 (16 – 19 January)


Greek Law and Justice

Roisman, Chapter 9, Chapter 11 (pp. 154-163), Chapter 13 WEB (13.1-13.6), Chapter 35 (pp. 477-484)


Guest Speaker: Dr. Jonathan Reeves – Settling Personal Issues in the Political Arena

Prologue from The Acharnians (Lines 1-203), Aristophanes

Demosthenes, Against Conon



Guest Speaker: Dr. Jonathan Reeves – The Face of Battle

Roisman, Chapter 8


Week 4 (23 – 26 January)


Slavery in Greece

Roisman, Chapter 1 WEB (1.4), Chapter 2 WEB (2.5.i), Chapter 7 (pp. 86-93), Chapter 18 (pp. 262-263), Chapter 36 WEB (36. 3- 36.7)


Metics and Barbarians

Roisman, Chapter 36 WEB (36.1-36.2, 36.8), Chapter 37 WEB (37.14)


Education in Athens and Sparta

Roisman, Chapter 7 (pp. 99-104) and WEB (7.16- 7.18)


Week 5 (30 January – 2 February)


Symposion and Sexuality

Roisman, Chapter 7 (pp.107-111), Chapter 12 (pp. 171-177) and WEB (12.7), Chapter 37 (pp. 502-507) and WEB (37.4 )


 Greek Colonization

Roisman, Chapter 4 and WEB (4.3-4.5)




Week 6 (6 – 9 February)


Death and Dying in Greece

Roisman, Chapter 25 (pp. 332-334) and WEB (25.2)


Commemoration of the War Dead

Lysias, Funeral Speech for Those who Assisted the Corinthians


Funerary Commemoration in Greece

No Readings


Week 7 (13 – 16 February)


Introduction to the Romans

Shelton, Introduction and Chapter 1


Roman Marriage, Divorce, and Adultery

Shelton, Chapter 3


The Roman Family

Shelton, Chapter 2


** NO CLASSES 20 – 23 FEBRUARY (Mid-Term Recess) **


Week 8 (27 February – 2 March)


Roman Women

Shelton, Chapter 13


Slavery in Rome

Shelton, Chapter 8 (pp. 163-173, 176-185)


Roman Slavery and the Family  

No Readings


Week 9 (6 – 9 March)


Freedmen and Freedwomen

Shelton, Chapter 9



Shelton, Chapter 6


Government and Law

Shelton, Chapter 10


Week 10 (13 – 16 March)


Case Study: The Augustan Legislation on the Family

Review Shelton, Chapter 2 (p. 29)


Discipline and Corporal Punishment

Shelton, Chapter 8 (pp.173-176)




Week 11 (20 – 23 March)


Roman Baths

Shelton, Chapter 14 (pp. 307-314)


Dining Culture

Shelton, Chapter 5 (pp. 79-85) and 14 (pp. 314-317)


Gladiators and Spectacles

Shelton, Chapter 14 (pp. 329-358)


Week 12 (27 – 30 March)


Roman dress and fashion

No Readings


Death and Dying in Rome

Shelton, Chapter 4 (pp.90-98)


Funerary Commemoration – Roman Style

No Readings


Week 13 (3 – 6 April)



Guest lecture: Myron Groover (Archives and Rare Books Librarian, McMaster University)



Conclusions on Greek and Roman Society

No Readings


Final thoughts and Discussion of Final Exam

No Readings