Classical Studies
GRE 1-334-2010

Imagining Greece: Pausanias' Periegesis Hellados

Temple of Poseidon, Sounion

Instructor: Dr. John Gruber-Miller, College Hall 312, Ext. x4326

Class Hours: M-F 10-11; 1-3 p.m.

Office Hours: M W F 11 a.m.-12 noon, and by appointment

Required Texts:

  • W.H.S. Jones, trans. Pausanias, Description of Greece, Vol. 1 (Books I-II). Loeb Classical Library. Harvard UP, 1918.
  • James Morwood. Oxford Grammar of Classical Greek. Oxford 2001.
  • H.G. Liddell and Robert Scott, eds. Abridged Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford, 1935. (optional)

Goals of the Course

  • to become more fluent reading and writing Greek
  • to read the most famous example of Greek travel writing, along with relevant other texts that illuminate Greek history, religion, and culture
  • to become a traveler through Greece, learning about the monuments, mythology, religious rituals, and history of ancient Greece
  • to become familiar with the cultural, religious, and literary background of the Second Sophistic
  • to better understand how each of us constructs an imaginative topography of the ancient world
  • to learn to read Greek prose aloud and to appreciate the aural dimension in understanding works that were meant to be heard

Course Format and Requirements

Greek reading: I don't expect perfect, polished translations, but I do want you to work at it diligently, have questions about the reading, and show that you have been thinking about the meaning of the Greek and the meaning of the text. We will begin with a moderate amount of reading while you get acquainted with Arrian's style and vocabulary, and then we will gradually increase the amount of reading as the course progresses.

Daily journal: In order for you to discover what strategies help you most develop your ability to read, write, and speak ancient Greek, you will keep a brief daily journal in English that details what strategies you used as you prepared for class. Some possible categories: learning vocabulary, reviewing grammar, reading the text, and re-reading/reviewing the text. Possible strategies may include reading the text several times before looking up any words; making guesses of the meaning of the word before looking it up in the dictionary or looking at the notes; or writing out a summary of the text in Greek. You will explain the strategy, the amount of time spent, whether you did it with others or on your own, and a brief assessment of how much that strategy helped you or not. Trying out new strategies along with using old ones is an important way to help you understand how you learn best.

English reading: In order to get an overview of Pausanias, we will read all intervening sections of the Periegesis in translation along with other authors that influenced Pausanias or were contemporary with him.

Collaborative work: Collaboration is an essential skill for success both in and outside of the academic world. By working with several others on various tasks, you can take advantage of different people's strengths, e.g. specific knowledge, ability to explain ideas and concepts, talent for asking good questions, aptitude for negotiating difficulties, organizational skills, leadership, and humor. Working together gives you an opportunity to learn from each other, test out ideas, and tackle a larger problem than a single person could easily do in the same amount of time. At the same time, working together can be difficult because of different expectations and experience. Learning when to stand firm and when to compromise and when to prod are difficult skills that take lots of practice.

At the beginning of the course, small groups will work at reviewing grammar and going over homework. Throughout the course, small groups will meet to work at reading comprehension of the Greek text.

Grammar Guru: Twice during the first week, each student will become the expert on a grammar topic to be covered in class. Each student will present an overview of the topic and lead the class in learning that topic. In addition, the student expert will create an activity to help the rest of the class learn the topic. Possible activities might include a skit, puzzle, game, an oral question-answer drill, or a set of sentences to translate. If possible, please do not use an activity that anohter group has already used. You may use any of the grammars or Greek composition books for ideas. The best presentations engage the rest of the class, summarize and condense the information in a way that makes sense to you (and others), include something visual (an overhead, a handout, an outline on the board), and provide Greek sentences that exemplify each type. Most presentations should be no more than 20 minutes, with no more than 5 minutes summarizing the grammar point and the rest of the time practicing.

Vocabulary Vizier: Once during the second week, you will organize and present vocabulary on a particular topic, such as words of coming and going, military vocabulary, topographical terms, religious vocabulary, etc. You can organize such words graphically, by synonyms, by part of speech, etc.--whatever you think will help people remember them. You can find such words by reviewing Athenaze, scouring our text, and/or typing the English word in the Liddell & Scott Lexicon at Perseus. Like the grammar guru activities, plan to create an activity to help everyone learn the vocabulary you have come up with.

Weekly seminars: In order to appreciate Pausanias, we will do weekly reports on topics that will help us understand him within the context of his times. The first week we will focus on important background information regarding archaeology, history, and religion. The next two weeks will focus on more specific issues.

Writing: Pausanias is selective in what he tells the reader about each site he visits and each monument he discusses. Sometimes he provides more information later in his narrative that adds more detail. Other times he is silent, but modern archaeological research has discovered more details about a particular site or the monuments there. Therefore, using Pausanias' text and your own research as a starting point, each week you will have the opportunity to write your own version of a Greek travel narrative. You may focus on a particular monument, a story from mythology, a historical event, an itinerary, or some combination of the above. The composition will be graded on comprehensibility (e.g. is the grammar reasonably correct), coherence (does the story flow from one paragraph to the next, use the proper transitional words, etc.), and inclusion of material relevant to your version of the monuments or events. You may add images to illustrate your text. The center eight stations in the HMC have the software program Antioch so that you may type your text in Greek with accents.

At the end of the course, you will prepare a portfolio of your writing this term, including both rough and final drafts. In addition, you will write in English a 1-2 page commentary about your progress writing Greek. What challenges did you meet and how did you attempt to overcome them? What do you feel you still need to work on as a writer? What do you wish you could have done differently? How has writing improved in terms of endings, vocabulary, and syntax? How has writing helped you understand the art, archaeology, history, or myth of the Greek world? How has writing helped you improve your ability to read Pausanias' Greek?

Testing: exam(s) will include translation/reading comprehension of both prepared and unseen passages, commentary on particular passages (grammatical, historical, and/or literary), and essay (more general questions about Greek archaeology, religion, society, literature, and culture.


  • daily preparation, participation, grammar quiz, presentations and oral reports (40%)
  • three compositions (20%)
  • midterm (20%)
  • final (20%)


Attendance: Since our class time is devoted to using the language in context, it is essential that you come to class every day, prepared and ready to participate actively. Any unexcused absence after one missed class period will harm your final grade. If you must miss class, please inform me ahead of time if at all possible. If you have a fever and other symptoms of the flu (seasonal and H1N1), please send me an email each day keeping me up to date about your condition. For your health and the health of the rest of the class, please do not come to class until you have been fever-free for 24 hours.

Deadlines: no late work will be accepted. If an emergency or illness occurs, please let me know immediately so that other plans can be arranged.

Academic Integrity: Students are encouraged to work with others as they prepare homework and practice the language. Nonetheless, each student is expected to submit her or his own work on quizzes, exams, compositions, and other assignments. Click here for Cornell's policy on Academic Honesty.

Accomodations for different learning styles: Cornell College is committed to providing equal educational opportunities to all students.  If you have a documented learning disability and will need any accommodation in this course, you must request the accommodation(s) from me as early as possible and no later than the third day of the term. Additional information about the policies and procedures for accommodation of learning disabilities is available on the Cornell web site at

Photo Credit: Temple of Poseidon, Sounion, Attica, © John Gruber-Miller 2007

Maintained by: Last Update: September 10, 2010 10:46 am

Professor John Gruber-Miller
GRE 1-334-2010
Ancient Greek Society, Politics, and Culture

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