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Curricular information is subject to change
Upon completing this module, students should be able to:
• differentiate between different concepts relating to the afterlife in the ancient world;
• demonstrate knowledge of, and analyse, key concepts and practices relating to death in the ancient world;
• evaluate the social, political and personal importance of rites and practices performed for the dead;
• engage with a range of ancient sources, and critically evaluate their reliability, benefits and limitations;
• critically engage with modern scholarship on death in antiquity.
In the 2022/2023 academic year this module will explore death, burial and the afterlife in the classical Greek world of the fifth and fourth centuries BC through three broad, interconnected stages. Firstly, we begin in the world of the dead, examining the mythology and contrasting conceptions of the afterlife and the Underworld. Secondly, we move to the world of the living, questioning, for example, the social and political importance of burial rites for the living, the influence of gender in relation to death and mourning, and how ‘good’ and ‘bad’ death were manipulated by the polis. Finally, merging the two worlds, we consider the possibility of communication between the living and the dead, and whether this was hoped for or dreaded.
Case studies may vary from year to year, though indicative topics include:
• different conceptions of the afterlife across authors and/or ancient cultures;
• the role of katabasis or types of journeys to the underworld.
• the topography of the underworld and mythologies of death;
• the role of ‘society’, rewards, and punishments in the underworld;
• conceptions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ deaths;
• funerary rites, mourning, and the role of the iconographic and archaeological evidence;
• funerary legislation – the political and social importance of the dead (public funerals);
• the roles of gender and age in death and mourning;
• epigrams and remembrance;
• the relationship between the living and the dead and the possibilities of communication;
• the restless dead; fear of the dead.
|Student Effort Type||Hours|
|Specified Learning Activities||
|Autonomous Student Learning||
Not applicable to this module.
|Description||Timing||Component Scale||% of Final Grade|
|Essay: 1,000-word commentary||Week 7||n/a||Graded||No||
|Essay: 2,000-word essay||Week 12||n/a||Graded||No||
|Continuous Assessment: Continuous assessment based on lectures and tutorials||Throughout the Trimester||n/a||Graded||No||
|Resit In||Terminal Exam|
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
Discussions during lectures and tutorials will engage students and formative feedback will be delivered verbally through these conversations with students in class. Continuous assessment based on work done during tutorials will account for 20% of the total grade, and this feedback will in turn help students prepare for their 1,000-word commentary (worth 30%) and 2,000-word essay (worth 50%). Students will receive written feedback on their commentary and essay.
|Dr Joanna Day||Lecturer / Co-Lecturer|
|Assoc Professor Philip De Souza||Lecturer / Co-Lecturer|
|Dr Christopher Farrell||Lecturer / Co-Lecturer|
|Dr Bridget Martin||Lecturer / Co-Lecturer|
|Lecture||Offering 1||Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12||Wed 12:00 - 12:50|
|Tutorial||Offering 1||Week(s) - 2, 4, 6, 9, 11||Tues 11:00 - 11:50|
|Tutorial||Offering 2||Week(s) - 2, 4, 6, 9, 11||Wed 13:00 - 13:50|
|Tutorial||Offering 3||Week(s) - 2, 4, 6, 9, 11||Wed 16:00 - 16:50|