Monthly Archives: March 2013

Archaeological sources on Sparta

LeonidasMany students of Sparta in high schools focus exclusively on written sources, particularly Plutarch.  Aside from the fact that most written sources on Sparta have historiographical problems, it is also not balanced, since there are archaeological sources as well.

This powerpoint will take you through the archaeological sources on Sparta, most of which were found at the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia.

My advice is where possible, focus first on archaeological sources, then the limited “primary” sources, then the “secondary sources”.  (I’m inclined to call Plutarch and Aristotle ‘fourth-hand’ sources.)



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Filed under Ancient History, Nature of History

Sample introduction to an essay response (Tiberius Gracchus)

Essay question: Assess the methods of Tiberius Gracchus as Tribune of the Plebs.  


Tiberius Gracchus’ tribunate has been commonly associated with the beginning of the downfall of the Roman republic.  Cicero charged him with acting out of invidia towards the senate and destroying the harmony of the republic.  This judgment has been echoed by subsequent modern historians like RE Smith who argued that Rome might have had a happier outcome if Tiberius Gracchus had chosen different methods to achieve his goals, Mommsen, who saw in Tiberius Gracchus a tribune driven by altruistic ideals but whose methods were radical and dangerous.  However, the case against Tiberius Gracchus’ methods rest upon ignoring the contributions by those who opposed Tiberius Gracchus towards the crisis that faced Rome, leading to unfair accusation of Tiberius Gracchus’ methods being the cause of the downfall of the republic.   This paper will set out to assess Tiberius Gracchus’ methods used in passing, implementing and defending his land reform bill in the light of the opposition that confronts Tiberius Gracchus.

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Filed under Ancient History, Teaching of history