CIV 311/HIST 301 Short Research Paper Guide


Click HERE to return to the CIV311/HIST301 Home page.
Click HERE to see a list of books on reserve for this course at SWEM.
Click HERE for the web page of the Writing Resources Center, and
Click HERE for the Writing Center's guide to citing sources.
Lastly, click HERE for a page listing links to useful Web sites, and HERE is a direct link to the Perseus Website.

SHORT RESEARCH PAPER: This will be a ca. 5-7 page paper examining the problems of using and interpreting the sources for some incident in ancient history. You are required to refer specifically to at least one PRIMARY source and one SECONDARY source in your paper. Good papers will refer to more than one of each type of source. At least one of your secondary sources has to have been published after 1970 and be something that the class has not been assigned to read. Likewise at least one of your primary sources must be something you were not required to read for class.

Here are some additional guidelines and suggestions:

Contents. Click on the links to go to a particular section:



Using Internet Sources

Guidelines for Citations


REQUIREMENTS (in addition to ones already stated):

1. Papers should be typewritten or word-processed, and in either case DOUBLE SPACED. Any problems with legibility will diminish your grade.

2. Any words, thoughts or ideas you put in your paper that are not original to you must be properly credited. Modern scholarship which you consult (including Internet sources) must be cited in footnotes, endnotes or in-text citations , and specific references to ancient sources must be given. Papers with insufficient citations and references will not receive a passing grade. Note the guidelines given below for citations and, more particularly, the guidelines for citing ancient sources (click HERE to go there).

SUGGESTIONS which may help you get the grade you want:

1. Read and cite ancient sources. Do not cite a modern author if he or she does nothing but repeat what a previous author says. Go back to the source.

2. With few exceptions, citing a general encyclopedia (even the Encylopedia Britannica) is usually a sign of an insufficiently researched paper. You may begin your research by reading an encyclopedia article, but don't let it end there. Similarly, m ost books that have the word "Handbook" or "Dictionary" in the title should be used for quick reference and further bibliography; they should not be used as major sources of information for a university-level paper.

3. Avoid relying for information on works about the ancient world that do not specify and cite the ancient sources on which its assertions are based. Such works tend to be superficial and unreliable.

4. Avoid citing something a professor (yes, even me) says in a class lecture. If you think something a professor says might be useful, talk to the professor to get tips on published sources.


5. Proofread your paper before handing it in. Frequent mistakes in spelling or grammar will result in a lower grade.

6. Avoid Quotationese. Here is a particularly bad example of Quotationese:

The Parthenon was "the cornerstone of Pericles' building programme" (Johnson, 23), which made Athens "the architectural and artistic epicentre of the Greek world" (Smith, 105) and was "certainly one of Pericles' greatest acheivements" (Ehrenberg , 181) .

The only circumstance in which extended direct quotations from modern authors are desirable is when you wish to take issue with, or call attention to, the particular words or ideas that an author expresses. Otherwise, put it in your own words.

7. Make sparing use of the passive voice. The following sentences illustrate the difference between the active and passive voices of verbs:

active voice: The dog ate my homework.

passive voice: My homework was eaten.

The passive voice is a weak, weasely way of expressing yourself, and it is usually used to absolve someone of responsibility (as the dog in the second sentence) or to avoid responsibility yourself. You might for instance try to avoid the resear ch necessary to find out who defeated the Romans at Carrhae in 53 B.C. by writing "In 53 B.C. the Romans were defeated at Carrhae." This will impress no one.



There's a lot of very useful and beneficial information available on the World Wide Web. It is a particularly good place for finding maps, illustrations translations of ancient texts, etc. When it comes to modern scholarship, however, you ha ve to be cautious. There is some good stuff out there, but unfortunately there's also a lot of material you should never be caught dead using in your paper, such as high school term papers, government and tourist-office propoganda, and your crazy uncle Al bert's theories on the pyramids. In general, you can use the same criterion for web material that you use for old food in your refrigerator: when in doubt, throw it out. More specifically, do not use or cite material on the web unless:

You can identify it as the work of a competent professional scholar and

It includes specific references to ancient and modern sources

If you have questions about the reliability of a particular item you find on the Web, consult me.

You can find a number of recommended Websites (where the ratio of useful material to BS will be relatively high) through the "Sites for studying the Ancient World" link on the course home page. One site that has a huge amount o f first-rate material of all sorts is the Perseus web site:

Other lists of pre-screened Websites can be found on the following resource page from Swem Library:

To learn how to cite Web sites properly in your paper, visit this site:




Citations may take the form of footnotes, endnotes or references in brackets () within the text of your paper. There are many methods of citation in use. You may adopt any method as long as it is consistent and easy to interpret. In general, for modern works (published after ca. 1700), citations and/or lists of sources should include at least the following information: Author’s name, Title of work, Place of publication, Date of publication, PAGE NUMBER(s). The most popular citation meth od in the humanties is the MLA (Modern Langague Association) standard. For a description and examples of this standard, go to:

There are special rules for citing ancient works. Most ancient works exist in several editions and translations, and page numbers will vary from one edition to the next. For this reason you should NOT refer to page numbers when citing ancient sources. Instead, most editions will preserve ancient numbers for books (= volumes), sections and paragraphs (in prose works) and line numbers (for poetry). It is these numbers you should cite, since these numbers will (theoretically) allow anyone reading your pap er to look up your citiations regardless of whether they have the same translation you used. You should be able to figure out the numbers, which usually occur at the beginnings of paragraphs or run down the margins. Here are what some typical citations fr om various ancient works look like: Only in the rare cases where you have to use a translation that does not preserve the original numbering should you cite the page number, and include the publication information for the edition you are using in your lis t of sources.

Homer, Iliad 1.23. = Homer, Iliad Book 1, line 23.

Plutarch, Pericles 17. = Plutarch, Life of Pericles, section 17.

Aeschylus, Agamemnon 280. = Aeschylus, Agamemnon line 280.

Thucydides 2.16. = Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Book 2 Section 16. (When an author, like Thucydides, is known for only one work, you need not put the title of the work)

If you are unsure how to make citations to any ancient work, consult me.

Inscriptions and fragmentary sources Use the material and bibliography provided for you in Fornara's collection Archaic Times to the end of the Peloponnesian War to investigate the problems involved with interpreting evide nce for some period, person or event, much as we did in class with Pheidon. Here are some possibilities (references are to Fornara's reference numbers):

#7 The Lelantine War: The semi-legendary battle royal between the Euboean colonizing powers of Chalkis and Eretria. First known war involving far-flung alliances between Greek city-states. Analyze the quality of the sources a nd discrepancies between them with regard to fact (including date, identity of the members of alliances on either side)

#12 The Great Rhetra: The Spartan "constitution", supposedly handed down to them by

the god at Delphi. Analyze the quality of sources and the discrepancies between them

#15 Drakon’s Law Code: This excerpt purports to be part of his homicide legislation. Use it as a foundation for examining the sources for Drakon and the difficulty in ascribing individual statutes to his Law Code.

#32 Polykrates of Samos: One of the most important and opulent tyrants of the Late Archaic period. Was playing footsie with the Persians long before the Ionian revolt.

#34-35 & 45-46 Documents from Persia: We don’t have too many texts written by Persians to balance against the large numbers of Greek texts we possess, but here are a couple of examples. Analyze them as representatives of the usefulness and difficulty of using Persian sources

#39-40 The Ouster of the Peisistratids: Anazlyze sources and attempt to arrive at a reasonable recostruction of the events.

#41 & 145 Ostracism: Evaluate sources and analyze discrepancies as to date of introduction and procedure.

#55 The Themistocles Decree: An inscription allegedly documenting the evacuation of Athens at the time of the Persian invasion. But is it genuine? Does it corroborate or contradict the account of Herodotus?

#61 Pausanias the Spartan: Evaluate these sources and combine with Thucydides 1.128 ff., to reconstruct the sequence of events leading to Pausanias’ death.

#67 The Messenian Revolt of 460's/450's: When did the Messenians revolt against the Spartans and why? Evaluate sources and analyze discrepancies.

#68 Decree regarding Athenian relations with Phaselis: This inscription records the degree to which Athenian courts had jurisdiction over citizens of cities that belonged to the Delian League. Why is there such a discrepancy in t he dating of the decree? What problems are there in making sense of the fragmentary text?

#71 Athenian regulations for Erythrae: Two modern editions of the same decree relating to Athens’ relations with one of her "allies" in the Delian league. What are the terms of the decree, and what do the differences between the two versions reveal about the difficulties in interpreting fragmentary inscriptional evidence?

#81 Alliance between Athens and Egesta: Fragmentary inscription of a treaty between Athens and one of her allies in Sicily. Analyze difficulties in interpreting the fragmentary text and the dating of it.

#92 Athenian Regulations for Miletus: An inscription regarding Athens’ relations with one of her most important "allies", the Ionian city of Miletus. What can be pieced together from this very fragmentary inscription. Why ar e such divergent dates given for it?

#95 The Peace of Kallias: Did the Athenian ambassador Kallias negotiate a peace treaty with the Persians? If so, when, and why is it important for understanding the growth of Athenian power?

#97 The Coinage Decree: At what point did the Athenians insist that their allies use Athenian coinage and measurements? This difficult inscriptional text (based on a number of fragmentary copies of the same inscription) is important for understanding the growth of Athenian hegemony.

#98 The Kleinias Decree: Another inscription regarding relations between Athens and her "allies". Why are different dates suggested for it, and how would dating it at one time or another affect our understanding of Athenian hegem ony?

#103 Athenian relations with Chalkis: Yet another Athenian Empire inscription showing how Athens’ power extended to the people of her subject cities. Examine problems of dating & interpretation.

#109 Thucydides, son of Melesias: Who was Pericles’ last serious rival for power and why was he ostracized? Evaluate and analyze these sources together with the passages in Aristotle and Plutarch cited by Fornara.

#119 The Kallias Decrees: These inscriptions are thought by some to reflect the Athenian response to the threat of a protracted war with Sparta. Analyze problems of dating and interpretation.

#120 The Megarian Decree: One of the main causes of the Peloponnesian war was apparently this decree of the Athenians barring the Megarians from ports of the Athenian Empire.

#149-151 The Oligarchy of the 400 at Athens: In the midst of war, an aristocratic revolution overthrew the democracy in Athens and reigned for a brief period

The following assignments deal with the analysis of primary sources of various sorts. Many of the sources can be found among the reserve books for this class at Swem.

Comedies: Analyze one the comedies of Aristophanes (any but the Wasps) as

a reflection of society and historical events at the time the play was produced

Tragedy: Read the Persians by Aeschylus, our only surviving tragedy on a historical subject. How does the account of the Persian invasion there accord with our historical sources, and what does this play reveal about Athen ian attitudes, particularly towards the Persians and towards themselves.

Biographies: Examine the evidence and the sources for the lives of prominent

individuals (Any aside from Solon, Theseus,Themistocles, Cimon, Pericles, Alcibiades, Alexander) Possibilities: Lykourgos, Aristeides, Nikias, Demosthenes, Pelopidas.

Political Oratory: Read one of the speeches in the collection on reserve entitled

Greek Political Oratory. Write an essay analysing the speech in its historical and

social context.