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Thucydides and the Fall of Athenian Democracy

Explore the profound insights of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War in this compelling course. Delve into the fall of Athenian democracy and the collapse of the classical city-state, examining speeches and narratives that debate political theory, justice, and human suffering. Engage with the text’s oscillation between historical objectivity and intense pathos to understand the cultural and intellectual milieu of ancient Greece.

  • All levels
  • 21 and older
  • $335
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  • Online Classroom
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions

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  • $335/person
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions
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Class Description

Description

What you'll learn in this lecture class:

Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the disastrous, 27-year war between Athens and Sparta. The Peloponnesian War brought to an end both democracy in Athens and the traditional Spartan aristocracy. Also destroyed was the classical idea of the city-state itself, with its attendant conceptions of citizenship and civic life. Through its mix of speeches, narrative, and analysis, Thucydides’ History presents a vivid and critical account of the decline and fall of the culture that we’ve come to call “classical.” What insights does the work offer us regarding why that culture could not sustain itself?

In this course, students will read the entirety of Thucydides’ History with particular attention to its oscillation between claims of historical objectivity and intense subjective pathos. We will examine Thucydides’ speeches, in which historical figures (Perikles, Alkibiades, Nikias, amongst others) debate central questions of political theory and action: democratic freedom and its limits, punishment and vengeance, expediency and justice, imperialism and democracy. We will attend, too, to the History’s intense emotional pathos: how does the work’s style and structure intensify its account of prolonged human suffering? Finally, we will explore Thucydides’ relation to his intellectual milieu, a context that includes Athenian tragedy and comedy, sophistic thought, and the incipient form of Socratic dialogue.

Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

Upon registration, the instructor will send along additional information about how to log-on and participate in the class.

Refund Policy

  • Upon request, we will refund less 5% cancellation fee of a course up until 6 business days before its start date.
  • Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to 75% refund or full course credit.
  • After the first class: 50% refund or 75% course credit.
  • No refunds or credits will be given after the second class.

In any event where a customer wants to cancel their enrollment and is eligible for a full refund, a 5% processing fee will be deducted from the refund amount.

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Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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