Syllabus [EuroHist-HHS123-F09]

For 9/14-16

Assignment 2

Remember to "REFRESH."

SAT Question: Greek is to Greece as Hellenic is to Hellas?


:Black Athena Folder:GreekColonies550BC.JPG



  For Monday:

- Read pp. 95-115 and the box called "Black Athena" on p. 138 in Davies [our textbook]: Contact me if you need me to post this chapter.  

Posted 9/11/09: Davies-Europe-Ch2-150dpi-5.7MB.pdf


- Read the articles on "Homer," "homosexuality," and "slavery" from the Oxford Classical Dictionary:

            Hornblower-OxfordClassicalDict-excerptssm.pdf [5.8MB]


- Read the stuff on Diogenes that I posted below.



  For Wednesday:

- Read the story of Polyphemus from the Odyssey, by "Homer." (I decided not to give you a choice between two sections.)  Odysseus is telling a story, the story of his adventures on the island of the lotus eaters and of the klyklopes.  HomerIXPoly.pdf [1.5MB]


- Read 3 more pages worth of stuff selected from the articles in the Oxford Classical Dictionary PDF.  Here is a list with an approximate page count for the articles in this PDF.


baths: 1/2pp

food and drink: 1/2pp

food supply: 3/4pp

Homer: 2.5pp

homosexuality: 3pp

honey: 1/4pp

humours: 1/3pp

hunting: 1/2pp

iron: 1/4pp

mines and mining: 1.5pp

slavery: 2pp

slingers: 1/2pp

symposium: 1/2pp

surgery: 1.5pp

Trajan's Column: 1/3pp

wine: 1p

women: 1.75pp

women in cult: 3/4pp

women in philosophy: 1/2pp

wool: 1/3pp



- Late Edition: Read and/or listen to this story about a recent discovery of ancient string: Ancient Braided String - 30k BP

Mandatory "Essay": Due Wednesday. Everybody must do this one. This assignment is mandatory and will count towards the 5 you need to have done by the end of the semester.  Read the Polyphemus story and make a comic book or some other illustrated book-like-thing of a section from this story.  You can cut and paste from a magazine or from the web.  You could draw the whole thing, or paint it, or a combination of drawing, painting on top of found photographs.... whatever.  [I find white-out is great for modifying magazine pictures.]  Make something visual that reflects the story in some way.  Put in details from the story.  If you have the cave in the background, then make sure your cave has some of the props that are mentioned in the story.  Put in some captions for your illustrations so that we know what is going on. Make a good looking product.  Be creative.  Interpret the story.  You could even set it in another time and figure out how to modify it to still be the same story.  Look for nuance.  This isn't simply an action story.  This story tells you a lot about the Greek attitude and their customs and their diet and their views in general. 

                        Finally, you need to write up about a half page of observations and explanations.  [single space, 1" margins, 12 point font... etc.] Try to delve into the story a bit. If you did something clever or a bit strange in the comic, explain how and why you did what you did.  What did the story tell you about the Greeks?  ...about civilization? ... about technology?   ... about whatever you can think of. 

                        Remember to cite sources including a reference to the reading itself. 



A model of an ancient Greek ship.



Citations to the assigned readings other materials from this week.



Davies, Norman. Europe : A History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. [Your copy may have a different date.  Use the date from your copy when you cite this in an essay.]


Homer. The Odyssey. Robert Fitzgerald trans. Vintage Classics. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. HomerIXPoly.pdf [1.5MB]


Hornblower, Simon, and Antony Spawforth eds. The Oxford Classical Dictionary. 3rd ed. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Hornblower-OxfordClassicalDict-excerptssm.pdf [5.8MB]


Here is a lesser known interesting figure whose story was totally ruined by prudish 19th c. scholars:


Diogenes of Sinope (ca. 400-323) …"the Cynic"


[Not to be confused with Diogenes LaĎrtius.] Diogenes is said to have eaten in the agora (marketplace) of Athens, urinated on the man who insulted him, defecated in the amphitheatre, and pointed at people with his middle finger (apparently a no-no, perhaps like giving the "bird" in modern times).


He supposedly lived in a tub or a huge ceramic jar and ate only onions.


Stray and totally absurd story: When asked how to avoid lust of the flesh, Diogenes began to masturbate. When rebuked for doing so, he replied,  "If only I could soothe my hunger by rubbing my belly." [Given his diet, it is perhaps best that he pleasured only himself and did not try to pleasure another.]


He lived for a while in Corinth, preaching his cynical philosophy and exemplifying his form of spiritual self-sufficiency.  While there the armies of Philip of Macedon (Alexander the Great's father) were approaching to lay siege upon Corinth.  The Corinthians scurried around preparing for the imminent attack, gathering up arms and supplies, and fortifying the city walls.  Diogenes, caring little about such affairs, is said to have rolled his man-sized jar up and down the streets frantically.  It was sort of an absurdist piece of street theater. 


Plato is said to have commented that Diogenes the Cynic, was Socrates gone mad.  The stories of Diogenes remind me stylistically of contemporary satire like Stephen Colbert or The Office.  His ridiculous behavior points out how silly we are.



In a moment of bonding, Plato once told Diogenes that Socrates’ definition of a human being was simply a “featherless biped.”  Diogenes, ever the pistol, presented a plucked chicken to Plato, calling it a fellow human.  Plato is said to have revised his definition to exclude plucked chickens.


Famous images of Diogenes: He is supposedly the person "searching for an honest man" on ZOSO, Led Zeppelin’s 4th album.

The inner sleeve of this album (below left) shows Diogenes the Cynic holding a lantern looking for “an honest man.”  He apparently went around looking for one in broad daylight. He couldn’t find one. The image on the right is the Tarot card upon which this image was clearly based.  Whether Zeppelin realized that this “Hermit” was Diogenes is doubtful.  They probably just thought it looked cool.


1085_hermit   9-VIIII-IX-Hermite




These symbols from Zeppelin’s album (above) are somewhat similar to some of the symbols from esoteric mathematical numerology such as Iamblichus.  Geometry and arithmetic and symbolism have a long and interconnected history.



::::AV:History Images:By Philosopher or Org:Diogenes images:Diogenes-Randy_Credico-2009-Albany.jpg

Here is Randy Credico dressed up as Diogenes harassing a senate meeting at the NY State Capital in Albany in March of 2009.

He is reported to have said, “I am here looking for an honest politician.”

He was and maybe still is thinking of running against Chuck Schumer in the Democratic primary even though he is better known as a Green Party activist.




"Cynic" derived from Greek word for dog (kynikos). Diogenes lived like a dog.  Cynic has, ever since, taken on this philosophical meaning.


Speaking of dogs...

Optional: Interesting story about dog domestication:

Earliest Dogs:



eLibrary [This link is provided in case the direct links are inoperable.]


Back to Syllabus [EuroHist-HHS123-F09]


Me –

Black Athena resources for Travis and Mike.  For presentation on Wed.


Added 10/16/09

HHS123-Greek Highlights-For Exam-1.9MB.pdf