ICSM Golden City: Rhetorical Performance in Classical Athens

ICSM Course Description

This guide supports the following seminar:

Classical Athens has been famously described as having been “drunk on language.” The Athenian democracy placed an extraordinarily high value on the ability of its citizens to speak, argue, entertain, and instruct by means of direct oral discourse. This seminar will engage the concept of rhetorical performance in the democratic polis. We will immerse in rhapsodic interpretation, political debate, criminal litigation, philosophical dispute and theatrical performance. We will also take part in a corresponding variety of performative experiences – in debates, mock trials, poetic recitations, and theatrical performances. The seminar will not simply work through a set of cultural masterpieces, though many of our texts are central to the Western canon. We will embody, and experience again, many of the persisting problems of democratic citizenship.

Recommended Databases

Researching 5th-4th Century Athens:
All the databases listed are potentially useful, but be aware that while most offer "Athens" as a Subject search, this does not distinquish between classical and modern Athens. Adding Keywords such as--"classical or ancient" can be fairly effective at targeting ancient Athens. You might also want to try "fifth century or 5th century" as key ords. Also try searching Athens with particular people, events, or insitutions that clearly signal your interest in classical times.
  •  JSTOR : For all aspects of classical Athens, this is probably our best research database. The journals covered are scholarly, and JSTOR is especially strong in History, Classics, Archaeology, Anthropolgy, Art, and Literature. It is also 100% full text. It does not cover the latest 2-3 years of journals, but this isn't much of a weakness for the study of ancient Athens. More of a problem is the search interface: JSTOR can only perform Keyword searching of all its full text, so articles will be retrieved in which search terms are only briefly mentioned. But the JSTOR relevancy ranking of retrievals is quite effective and the most sustained discussion of your search terms should appear on the first page or two of results. To prevent book reviews from clogging your results, check "Article" below the search slots.
  • Project Muse , although a smaller database, it complements JSTOR. LIke JSTOR it provides 100% full text of mostly scholarly journals, but its coverage is entirely current--mainly spanning the last 10-15 years.  Muse uses a "black box" search approach--you enter your search terms in one slot with no designated field options--but in addition to slapping in keywords, you can use the same Library of Congress Subject Headings that work in the Library catalog (see above under "Subject Searches").  This broad approach to searching tends to generate large retrievals, so it's best to be as specific as possible.  And note--once you have a retrieval set, you can add more search terms by clicking "Modify Search" at the top.
  • ProQuest Research Library  & Academic Search Premier : Two of our largest, most comprehensive databases offering a high percentage of full text. Both provide good resources on various facets of 5th century Greece and Athens. At the ProQuest search page check the "Thesaurus" (just above the search slots) to preview available Subject Headings.  This can be a more efficient way to search than Keyword, since it guarantees that the articles actually be about the Subject rather than just use the word.ProQuest can be fussy about entering a Subject term in the appropriate slot, so a person--Socrates, for example--needs to go in the "Person" slot while a place--Greece or Athens, for example--needs to go in the "Location" slot. In both databases Subject searches on Greece or Athens may need to be qualified with Keywords such as "ancient or classical."
  • Philosopher's Index : Our only database where a Subject search will return over 200 hits for "Sophists."  To preview other Subject headings available here, click on "Indexes" at the top left and select the "Subjects" index.  There is little full text, but the green arrows at the bottom of each citation will search for full text in all our other databases and return links. It is worth limiting your search to "journal articles," since books (monographs) will never come with full text links, and also to check "English only" since this is a database of international scholarship.
  • MLA International Bibliography The Modern Language Association produces one of the largest bibliographies of literary criticism and this is one of the few databases in which you can enter a Subject search on the title of any literary work--in the "Author's Work" slot. But given the variations in how a title may be translated into English, you're probably safer to start with an Author as Subject search. As with JSTOR and Philosopher's Index, it is worth limiting your search to just "Journal Article" under "Source Type" below the search slots.
  • International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance with Full Text
    International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance (IBTD), includes indexing and full text for top performing arts journals.

  • ARTstor : Our premier image database, ARTstor covers not just the fine arts but also a wide range of material culture. Click on "Enter the ARTstor digital library" and when the "Basic Search" opens click on "Advanced Search" below the search slots. Note that you can define a date range--for example 500 BCE to 350 BCE. In addition to the standard Keyword search, "Advanced" allows category searches of the image collection. On the "Geography" menu choose Greece. Among the "Classification" options are "Architecture & City Planning," "Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects," "Fashion, Costume and Jewelry," "Painting," and "Sculpture." This allows you, for example, to run a search of all available images of Architecture or Jewelry or Painting from Greece between 500 and 350 BCE. Or you can add a Keyword for focus--for example, "Acropolis" or "vase."  Note: ARTstor requires Java and Flash Player, and you must have your browser set to allow cookies and your pop-up blocker disabled. 
  • SPORTDiscus with Full Text : For an overview of the resources here run a subject search on Sports in Antiquity and Olympic Games (Ancient).
  • ATLA religion database with ATLASerials : Our religion database. JSTOR will probably be a better bet for ancient Greek religions, but you might want to check here as well. If you do, be sure to set the "Publication Type" limit to "article"--there are lots of books here but none accessible online--and also set the language limit to English if that's all you comfortably read--this is a very international database.  You can browse the index of Subject Headings used here by clicking on Indexes (above the search slots) and choosing Subjects.  Here, for instance, you can discover that Cultus, Greek is the Subject term used for articles on Greek cults.
  • Ebook Central (formerly ebrary) Restricted Resource Resource contains images Some full text available
    Over 109,000 full-text ebooks on business & economics, education, technology, humanities, life & physical sciences, law & politics, medicine, social & behavioral sciences, language & literature, and career guidance. Approximately 300 ebooks are single-user access titles; all other ebooks support multiple-user simultaneous use.

Subject Searches in the IC Library Catalog

Note: Although Homer and Hesiod predate the scope of this guide--5th-4th century Greece--their influence so saturated Greek culture that you may wish to consult our holdings for Homer, Homer--Criticism and interpretation, Troy (Extinct city), Trojan War--Literature and the war, and Hesiod--Criticism and interpretation.

Athens (Greece)--Antiquities
Athens (Greece)--Civilization
Athens (Greece)--History
Athens (Greece)--History--Thirty Tyrants, 404-403 B.C.
Athens (Greece)--Intellectual life
Athens (Greece) Politics and government
Athens (Greece) Social conditions
Athens (Greece) Social life and customs
Athena (Greek deity)

Civilization, Western--Greek influences
Civilization, Classical  ["Classical" refers to Greece and Rome]
Greece--Civilization Greece--History Greece--History--Persian Wars, 500-449 B.C.

Oratory, Ancient
Antiphon, ca. 480-411 B.C.--Criticism and interpretation
Isocrates--Criticism and interpretation
Rhetoric, Ancient
Speeches, addresses, etc., Greek--History and criticism
Law, Greek
Political science--Greece--History
Education, Greek

Women Greece
Philosophy, Ancient
Cosmology, Ancient
Pythagoras and Pythagorean school
Sophists (Greek philosophy)
Gorgias, of Leontini
Pythagoras and Pythagorean school
Zeno, of Elea
Socrates--Trials, litigation, etc
Cynics (Greek philosophy)
Plato. Republic
Aristotle. Poetics
Skeptics (Greek philosophy)

Science, Ancient
Mathematics, Greek
Medicine, Greek and Roman

Mythology, Greek
Rites and ceremonies--Greece
Delphian oracle
Eleusinian mysteries
Dionysus (Greek deity)
Greek literature--History and criticism

Selected Web Sites

  • An Overview of Classical Greek History: from the Perseus Project.  This link is to the table of contents, so browse your way to the era and/or topic that interests you.  The chapters themselves provide links to primary resources.
  • Athenian Law Lectures: From the Center for Hellenic Studies at Harvard, transcripts of 9 lectures. Under "Discussion Series" on the left click on "Athenian Law." A menu of resources will open on the left, the first of which is "Athenian Law Lectures."
  • Ancient Women of Athens: Quirky site from Christina Salowey at Hollins University--if a little tricky to use.  You enter the various sections of the site by clicking on different parts of the statue of Athena and once inside be sure to click on all the links. They may appear to be simply the titles of art works but they open commentary via somewhat clunky Word documents.
  • Ancient Greek Art: One of the best gateways for online resources in this area, created and maintained by Christopher Witcombe of Sweetbriar College.  Ignore the "Site Index" and simply scroll down for the Ancient Greek resources.
  • Ancient Olympics: A nice suite of online materials from the Perseus Digital Library.

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Cathy Michael

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(607) 274-1293

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Guide credit

This guide was created by Dr. Brian Saunders, Humanties Librarian (retired 2017).