Power and Identity

Power and Identity

 

Students learn about: The time of Alexander or Caesar, The political and military  exploits of Alexander or Caesar, The characterisation of Alexander or Caesar, The attitudes of Alexander and Caesar towards foreign peoples.

 

In this strand students learn about the political dynamics and ideologies of power and identity at transitional moments in ancient history and they reflect on the implications and problems associated with history writing which is centred around the political and military exploits of ‘great men’ and ideologies of conquest, empire and cultural supremacy. They study the careers of Alexander the Great (336-323 BC), on the brink between the Classical and Hellenistic worlds, and Gaius Iulius Caesar (70s-44 BC), on the brink between the Roman Republic and Empire. 

 

They study one of these figures in depth, investigating him against the background of key historical events that shaped his world, and the political and social tensions and political geography of his time. They examine his political and military exploits, focusing on a key period in his career (the Persian campaign of Alexander or Gallic campaign of Caesar); and they analyse his characterisation in literature, considering the genre and aims of the studied literary sources (Plutarch’s Lives of Alexander and Caesar, Arrian’ Anabasis and Caesar’s Gallic War). 

 

About the other figure they learn through a comparative case study, centred around Alexander’s interactions with the Persians and Caesar’s interactions with the Gauls. Here they investigate what Alexander’s interactions with the Persians and Caesar’s interactions with the Gauls suggest about their cultural ambitions and norms, and their conception of what it means to be ‘civilised’ or ‘barbarian’.