Classics 591: Undergraduate Seminar, Ancient Warfare

JC McKeown
3 credits

In which ancient battle did an army kill 10,000 of the enemy without loss to their own side? Which general began a battle by releasing a flock of owls? Why was a herd of pigs standard issue in Greek armies? Why were scythe chariots rarely effective? This course will trace the history of classical warfare from Homeric times till the fall of the Roman empire. Each lecture will be accompanied by a substantial reading from an ancient author, whether poetic (e.g. Homer, Vergil) or prose (e.g. Herodotus, Caesar). These readings will be used to focus each session on a particular aspect of warfare: strategy, sieges, weaponry, military medicine, single combat, dirty tricks. Emphasis will be given throughout the course to the influence of war on political and social life. No prior knowledge of Greek or Roman culture is required.