Earlier this month, Yale historian Donald Kagan passed away at age 89 in Washington D.C. In their obituary, The New York Times writes:
Professor Kagan was considered among the country’s leading historians. His four-volume account of the Peloponnesian War, from 431 B.C. to 404 B.C., was hailed by the critic George Steiner as “the foremost work of history produced in North America in the 20th century.”
He was equally renowned for his classroom style, in which he peppered nuanced readings of ancient texts with references to his beloved New York Yankees and inventive, sometimes comic exercises in class participation, like having students form a hoplite phalanx to demonstrate how Greek soldiers marched into combat.
If you never sat in Kagan’s classroom, you can still experience his teaching style online. Recorded in 2007, Kagan’s course Introduction to Ancient Greek History traces “the development of Greek civilization as manifested in political, intellectual, and creative achievements from the Bronze Age to the end of the classical period.” You can watch the 24 video lectures above, or find them on YouTube. The lectures also appear on iTunes in audio and video. Find the texts used in the course below. More information about the course, including the syllabus, can be found on this Yale website.
- Pomeroy, Burstein, Donlan and Roberts. Ancient Greece. Oxford University Press: New York, 1999.
- Kagan, Donald. “Problems in Ancient History.” In The Ancient Near East and Greece. 2nd ed., vol. 1. Prentice-Hall: New York, 1975.
- Herodotus, The Histories.
- Plutarch, The Rise and Fall of the Athens.
- Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War.
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