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2018/19 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

CLAS5300M Classical Commentary

30 creditsClass Size: 20

Module manager: Professor Malcolm Heath

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

Pre-requisite qualifications

Advanced or equivalent qualification in Ancient Greek and/or Latin

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module provides an opportunity for students with advanced knowledge of Ancient Greek and/or Latin language to apply and develop their skills in close reading and analysis of chosen ancient writings using the well-established format of a textual commentary. Selected literary texts in the original ancient Greek/Latin will be analysed in particular detail, with emphasis on fluent translation and understanding. In tutorials, translations and secondary material will be discussed to gain background understanding of literary, socio-political and historical contexts. We will also consider the roles of a classical commentary, the various methodologies taken towards compiling them, the tools required for their completion, the differing formats for presentation, and analyse examples from antiquity to the present day. In one-to-one supervisions, the focus will be on translating and understanding the text itself and planning the content of the commentary and thematic essay.


The module will enable students to:
- situate examples of Latin/ancient Greek literature in their literary, historical, cultural and socio-political contexts;
- compare and contrast the works under consideration, with their predecessors and other works in the writer's corpus (where applicable);
- use close reading techniques to produce critical appreciations of these texts;
- identify and evaluate literary critical approaches, especially narratology, intertextuality and reception theory;
- select evidence for, and explore, the writers' treatment of themes such as (for example) genre, gender, myth, and religious and political life in Greece and Rome;
- demonstrate subject-specific skills, including an ability to carry out close textual analysis and translation of the original text(s);
- discuss with confidence the discipline of writing a classical commentary, and demonstrate their understanding of methodology, tools used in compiling them, and different formats of presentation;
- develop a sense of themselves as scholars in the study of ancient literature.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students are expected to be able to demonstrate:
- an understanding of a range of scholarly commentaries available on ancient texts, their importance, uses, differing formats, and how they were compiled; as well as a knowledge of the major scholarly literature besides commentaries relating to the text(s) in question;
- an ability to carry out translation and close textual analysis of original texts; and to analyse critically various forms of texts (especially different genres of literature) and relate them to each other where appropriate;
- a knowledge of the modern theories and methodologies relevant to ancient literature (e.g. intertextuality, the impact of oral culture, narratology, reception studies), including an understanding of the key viewpoints and debates expressed in the scholarly literature; and an ability to engage critically with the scholarly literature;
- an ability to communicate effectively in tutorial classes, supervisions and written essays; and to construct reasoned and well-supported arguments;
- an ability to identify and articulate their own research questions;
- good time management and IT skills.


Teaching on the module will be weekly, with a programme including lectures, tutorials, reading classes and one-to-one supervisions. This module will focus on innovative works of literature composed in Ancient Greek or Latin, dealing with themes as diverse as war and conflict, love, mythological history and political power. Literary texts in the original language will be analysed in particular detail, with emphasis on fluent translation and understanding. Accompanying classical commentaries will also be consulted, to discover how scholars have approached the analysis of these works, their methodologies, and the tools they used. In reading classes and tutorials translations and secondary material will be discussed to gain background understanding of literary, socio-political and historical contexts and the uses of the commentary. In reading classes and supervisions the focus will be on accurate translation and nuanced interpretation of texts.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours285.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Reading and preparation for 5 lectures = 5 sessions x 12 hours = 60 hours
Preparation for tutorials (reading classes in Greek or Latin) – 4 sessions × 12 hours = 48 hours
Preparation for supervisions – 3 ×12 hours = 36 hours
Essay research and writing (1 commentary: 80 hours / 1 essay: 61 hours) = 141 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored:
- at an informal level through class contact hours
- at a formal level, through the week 9 commentary submission.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
EssayCommentary on text, c. 3000 words50.00
EssayEssay, c. 3000 words50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 16/09/2019


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