MEETING DAYS, TIMES, AND PLACE: TTh, 9:30-10:45, Wallace 207, for the first half of the semester



Dr. Robert Holschuh Simmons

21 Wallace Hall

Office Phone:  309-457-2378


Office Hours: Monday and Friday 9-10 AM, Tuesday-Thursday 1-2 PM, and by appointment.





This course is designed for anyone interested in the practice of sports in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, and in the influence they have had on contemporary sports.  It will be particularly well-suited for students who are willing to take physical part in our recreations of ancient sporting events and battle techniques.  This class can also fulfill partial requirements for a major in History, Classics, Latin, or Greek. 



From our first records of Greco-Roman life, sporting activity has been evident.  From the obvious combat of wrestling and gladiatorial conflict, to less outwardly violent activities such as javelin throwing and chariot races, the roots of many of the most popular sporting activities in the ancient world were in preparation for battle.  This course will explore both of those critical parts of life in the ancient world, as they developed individually, and in interactions between them.  The course will be highly active throughout, with students regularly asked to act out athletic techniques and events.  One caution: this course will be dealing with a number of topics that were prominent parts of Greek and Roman life through the centuries, some of which may make certain people uncomfortable.  Among things that may make some students uncomfortable about our readings, video clips, and other ideas presented and/or discussed in class are the following: violent behavior in the readings and in some video clips; simulations of sporting techniques in class that, if done whole-heartedly, could result in physical harm; depictions of male and female nudity in ancient vase paintings; portrayals of ancient slavery in our readings; and ancient stereotypes of sexes and cultures that come up in readings, which we will discuss in class.  While I will do my best to make our discussions inclusive, kind, and academic, some of the content of this course may not be ideal for students who are particularly sensitive to the sorts of matters mentioned above.  If you take issue with any of the material or discussions in this course, please contact me.



Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to do the following, and more:

1)      Identify significant and influential athletic techniques from the worlds of classical Greece and Rome, and be able to act out many of them.

2)      Develop an extensive vocabulary of terms used in the ancient world to refer to the techniques we will learn.

3)      Analyze social, cultural, and historical factors influencing developments in athletic tastes over years and centuries.

4)      Explain connections and overlaps between sports in the ancient and modern worlds



1)      Think critically about the Classical World, including knowing what questions to ask and how to answer them.

3)  Know the broad overview of Greek and Roman history, (the difference between the Republic and Imperial periods, for example), the values prevailing within each culture and period, and the factors that led to changes in the political, social, and economic structures.

4)  Be familiar with Classical literature, including the major authors, genres, groupings, and relationship of literature to history and culture.

5)  Understand the role of Classics in the modern world.




This will be a tremendously active and interactive class.  We will be spending a lot of time talking about the things we have read and learned in class.  We will also spend a lot of time physically performing ancient athletic events.  Thus it is critical that you be willing to take active part in class, both intellectually and physically.  To do the best job in carrying out class activities, it will be important for you to be well prepared for each class.  If you have not done your reading, you are likely to feel rather foolish as the rest of us are performing events and you do not know what we are doing.  Thus a significant part of your grade will come from your participation in class and your preparation for it. 

Your grade in this category will be based on a combination of my observations and notes and your own assessment of your performance in this area. 


To help both you and me keep up with your preparation and participation throughout the semester, you will have your own Preparation and Participation (P&P) folder that contains a self-assessment instrument.  At the end of each class period, you will assess your own participation based on, for example, your level of preparation for class, the quantity and quality of your contributions to class discussion, etc.  I will review your self-assessments and, if needed, alter them to reflect my assessment of your participation based on observation and evidence.  At one or more points in the class, you will need to provide an overall assessment of your preparation and participation based on your daily logs.  At the end of the term, I will average the daily scores and incorporate your written assessments to determine the final Preparation and Participation grade.



Because attendance is crucial to your success, and because our class meetings are where a great deal of the course’s value comes, I will hold you to a high standard of attendance.  You may occasionally, however, need to miss a class for illness or other reasons.  Thus you will not be penalized for your first two absences, whatever the reason for them.  If you miss more than two classes, however, your grade or status in the class will be affected according to the following parameters:

Normally, the two-absence cushion should account for matters outside of your control that would keep you from attending class, so the third one, even if it could be excusable on its own, serves as the consequence for classes missed previously that were within your control, and it underscores the importance of your being present: any absence, for whatever the reason, detracts from your learning in the class.  However, I recognize that a person can, at times, run into circumstances that can keep her or him out of class on several occasions without any fault on the student’s part.  If your first two absences were all due to debilitating or contagious illness, family emergency, mandatory religious obligation, or participation in an authorized College activity (for any of which I may require documentation), I will not penalize you for a third absence either, if that also was precipitated by one of those circumstances.  For absences beyond the first two that you believe should be excused, you should contact me beforehand if you are in position to know about the absences in advance (such as if you have a mandatory religious or College obligation); if the absence is the result of an emergency, you should notify me within three days of the missed class.  Please speak with me if you have a different reason for your absence that you think may be excusable.  I will be the sole arbiter as to whether an absence will be considered excused.  Further details:


quizzes and In-Class Writing:

Because it is critical that people are well-prepared for class in order for the events we will do in class to work out, I will regularly have you either take a short quiz or write for a few minutes in response to the reading you were assigned, and sometimes in response to questions that I have assigned along with your reading.  MISSED QUIZZES AND WRITING ASSIGNMENTS MAY NOT BE MADE UP, unless you have missed such an assessment for reasons that were fully justifiable and over which you had no control.  (I will be the one who determines whether your circumstance justifies any mercy.)  However, I will drop students’ two lowest scores, including missed assignments, in tabulating their final grade. 



There will be one exam, covering assigned readings and the content of class activities, discussions, and lectures, including visual images.  This exam will include both a written component and a component in which you must physically show how to do practices of ancient sports that we have learned in class.  Missed exams may be made up only if missed for one of the following reasons, and only with appropriate documentation: debilitating illness, family emergency, mandatory religious obligation, or participation in authorized College activities.  Please speak with me if you have a different reason for your absence that you think may be excusable.  You must make every effort to contact me before the exam if a make-up is necessary, and you must take the make-up exam within five class days of the scheduled date. 



You will undertake one project (either alone or with partners) in which you will demonstrate your mastery of some ancient athletic event(s) or game(s) through a poster of it and a presentation of it, culminating in an exhibit at Classics Day on October 22.  The sorts of events on which you will present are Olympics events like discus or long jump, equestrian events like chariot racing, combat events like gladiatorial combat, board games like rota, and the like.  Specific details of this assignment will be forthcoming.  If you have an unavoidable event that would force you to miss Classics Day on October 22, we can work out an arrangement.


Grade Breakdown:      Preparation and participation       20%

                                                Quizzes and in-class writing         20%

                                                Exams                                          30%

                                                Project                                          30%


Percentage/Grade Equivalents:

98+   = A+     87-89 = B+     77-79 = C+     67-69 = D+    59 and below = F

93-97 = A       83-86 = B        73-76 = C        63-66 = D      

90-92 = A-      80-82 = B-      70-72 = C-      60-62 = D-



Futrell, A.  The Roman Games.  Blackwell, 2006.

Miller, S. G.  Arete.  3rd edition.  University of California Press, 2012.

Swaddling, J.  The Ancient Olympic Games.  3rd edition.  University of Texas Press, 1999 (or newer).


course engagement expectations:

This course is scheduled to meet 2 days per week for 75 minutes each for seven and a half weeks.  You should expect to spend on course reading, homework, memorization, etc. approximately two hours outside of class for every hour in class. Assigned activities may take each student a different amount of time to finish; however, the weekly average for all students in the course for those matters should be 7.5 hours.  Intensive studying for exams and preparation for your project will be in addition to the standard weekly preparation, but will likely average out to an extra four hours per week.  The time estimates for the course thus break down as follows:


            In class activities                                                                                 2.5 hours

            Homework, review of course material, and class preparation             5.0 hours

            Intensive studying and preparing for the project (averaged out)          4.0 hours

Average per week:                                                                            11.5 hours


class behavior Expectations:

To maintain a classroom environment in which everyone can learn, please show the respect and courtesy to others that you would expect in turn.  Here are a few of the ways in which you can show respect and courtesy:

·        Be in your seat on time for class, and remain for the duration of each class.

·        Have a notebook, pen, and relevant materials out and ready to use throughout class.

·        Be ready to answer questions about the day’s homework and other relevant subjects, to work on in-class assignments individually and with peers, and to share your work in small groups with the whole class.

·        Remain quiet while I or others in class are speaking.

·        Show support for those who speak in class by your demeanor and body language.

·        Focus on the content of the class, not on personal electronic devices; all such items should be turned off and packed away during class, unless they are being used for class matters, in a way that is not distracting to your classmates or me.

·        You may eat and drink in class, but only if it is not distracting to other students or me.


E-mail Courtesies:

When sending me e-mail, please observe the following courtesies:

·        Begin the message with a salutation of some sort (Dr. Simmons, Prof. Simmons, Mr. Simmons, etc.).

·        Include a reasonably accurate subject line.

·        Capitalize and punctuate where appropriate, and proofread to make sure that you are communicating clearly.

·        At the end of the message, please identify yourself by the name by which I know you (first name or nickname).

I will get back to you as soon as I can.  Sometimes a response will be immediate; on other occasions it may take me several hours, and quite possibly a full day if you write late in the day, at night, or on a weekend, if I need to give some thought to a response before providing one, or if I simply have other things I need to get done before I can get to e-mails.


Special Needs: 

Anyone who has a special need that may require some modification of seating, testing, or other class requirements should see me as soon as possible.  I will be pleased to make the appropriate arrangements in consultation with you.  Depending on the modification, you may need to be registered with Disability Support Services.   


Disability Support Services:

If you have a disability or had academic accommodations in high school or another college, you may be eligible for academic accommodations at Monmouth College under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Monmouth College is committed to equal educational access.  Students with disabilities can apply for accommodations at the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC). The TLC is located on the 2nd floor of Poling Hall. For more information, call 309-457-2257 or connect online at


Academic honesty:  

From the Monmouth College Academic Honesty Policy:  “We view academic dishonesty as a threat to the integrity and intellectual mission of our institution. Any breach of the academic honesty policy – either intentionally or unintentionally – will be taken seriously and may result not only in failure in the course, but in suspension or expulsion from the college.  It is each student’s responsibility to read, understand and comply with the general academic honesty policy at Monmouth College, as defined here in the Scots Guide, and to the specific guidelines for each course, as elaborated on the professor’s syllabus.


“The following areas are examples of violations of the academic honesty policy: 


  1. Cheating on tests, labs, etc;
  2. Plagiarism, i.e., using the words, ideas, writing, or work of another without giving appropriate credit;
  3. Improper collaboration between students, i.e., not doing one’s own work on outside assignments specified as group projects by the instructor;
  4. Submitting work previously submitted in another course, without previous authorization by the instructor.


Please note that this list is not intended to be exhaustive.”


The complete Monmouth College Academic Honesty Policy can be found on the College web page by clicking on “Student Life” then on “Student Handbook” in the navigation bar on the top of the page, then “Academic Regulations” in the navigation bar at the left.  Or you can visit the web page directly by typing in this URL:


In this course, any violation of the academic honesty policy will have varying consequences depending on the severity of the infraction as judged by the instructor.  Minimally, a violation will result in an “F” or 0 points on the assignment in question. Additionally, the student’s course grade may be lowered by one letter grade.  In severe cases, the student will be assigned a course grade of “F” and dismissed from the class.  All cases of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Associate Dean, who may decide to recommend further action to the Admissions and Academic Status Committee, including suspension or dismissal.  It is assumed that students will educate themselves regarding what is considered to be academic dishonesty, so excuses or claims of ignorance will not mitigate the consequences of any violations.


Help outside of class:

You should not hesitate to talk with me about any difficulties you are having—this course is challenging, and I want to help you do the best you can at it.  Speak with me as soon as you are having trouble; letting a problem fester is likely to make it worse.  Also, there is help available at the locations below. 


Teaching & Learning Center:
The Teaching and Learning Center offers FREE resources to assist Monmouth College students with their academic success. Programs include Supplemental Instruction for difficult classes, drop-in and appointment tutoring, and individual academic coaching. The TLC is here to help students excel academically. TLC services are not just for struggling students, but can assist all students to get better grades, practice stronger study skills, and manage time.


Visit Kam Williams (Director of Academic Support Programs and Student Disability Services) and Rita Schwass (TLC secretary) at the TLC on 2nd floor Poling Hall from 8am-4:30pm or online at  Kam can be reached at or 309-457-2214, and Rita can be reached at or 309-457-2213.  Like the TLC on Facebook:

Writing Center:

The Monmouth College Writing Center offers unlimited, free peer tutoring sessions for students at Monmouth College.  Peer writing tutors work with writers from any major, of any writing ability, on any type of writing assignment, and at any stage of their writing processes, from planning to drafting to revising to editing.  It is located on the 3rd floor of the Mellinger Teaching and Learning Center, and we are open Sunday-Thursday 7-10pm and Monday-Thursday 3-5pm on a first-come, first-served basis.  No appointment necessary!  Learn more about the Writing Center at its website:


Speech Tutors:

Speech Tutors are available on a limited basis in the Writing Center to work with students who are preparing for a presentation in any course.  Speech Tutors can help fine-tune thesis statements, review outlines, suggest organizational strategies, provide feedback about visual aids, help students develop ways to manage speech anxiety, and watch speech practice sessions.  For information about tutor availability, visit the Writing Center’s website at


Schedule of Assignments:

Note: The assignments below are due on the days on which they are listed.  If there is no other instruction given, you are to do the following:


Day 1 (Tuesday, August 23)

Assignments due today: none—first day


Day 2 (Thursday, August 25)

Assignments due today:

·        Arete pp. 1-15 (Ch. 1)


Day 3 (Tuesday, August 30)

Assignments due today:

·        The Ancient Olympic Games pp. 71-81

·        Arete pp. 27-39


Day 4 (Thursday, September 1)

Assignments due today:

·        Arete pp. 16-18 (sections 3-8, on athletic nudity) and pp. 20-21 (sections 14-15, on oil in athletics)

·        The Ancient Olympic Games pp. 57-62 (stop before the section labeled “The pentathlon”)

·        Arete pp. 23-27 (Sections 20-31, on running events)

·        The Ancient Olympic Games pp. 7-20 (stop before the section labeled “3 Pheidias’ Workshop”)

·        Arete pp. 67-68 (sections 87-89, on the truces accompanying major athletic festivals



Day 5 (Tuesday, September 6)

Assignments due today:

·        The Ancient Olympic Games pp. 29-34 (start with “The Ancient Sports Complex,” and stop before “28 Hippodrome”) (places for competition and training)

·        The Ancient Olympic Games pp. 38-41 (sources on the Games, and rules of them)

·        The Ancient Olympic Games pp. 44-52 (preparation and training for the Games)

·        Arete pp. 65-67 (Sections 83-86, on preparation of athletes)

·        Arete pp. 73-76 (Sections 100-109, on prohibitions, penalties, and officials)

·        The Ancient Olympic Games pp. 63-66 (“Discus-throwing”)

·        Arete pp. 44-45 (Sections 55-56, on discus-throwing)


Day 6 (Thursday, September 8)

·        The Ancient Olympic Games pp. 62-63 (“The pentathlon”)

·        The Ancient Olympic Games pp. 66-71 (start with “Javelin-throwing,” and stop before “Combat”)

·        Arete pp. 39-50 (Sections 47-65, on the pentathlon, skipping over sections 54-55 on pp. 44-45)

·        The Ancient Olympic Games p. 43 (“The Games of Hera”)

·        Arete pp. 105-110 (Sections 149-162, “Women in Athletics”)

·        Arete pp. 57-62 (Sections 73-80, non-athletic competitions in the Olympics and other games)

·        The readings from Arete use a good number of Greek terms that are not translated.  If their meaning is not obvious to you from their context, be sure to look them up in the glossary that starts on p. 209. 


Day 7 (Tuesday, September 13)

Assignments due today:

·        The Ancient Olympic Games pp. 81-89 (“Equestrian Events”)

·        The Ancient Olympic Games pp. 34-38 (Sections 28-29: “Hippodrome” and “Starting gate for horseraces”)

·        Arete pp. 53-57 (Sections 67-72, “Equestrian”)

·        The Ancient Olympic Games pp. 53-55 (Ch. 5: “The Programme”)

·        Arete pp. 70-73 (Sections 95-99, “Schedules, Heats, and Pairings”) •

·        The Ancient Olympic Games pp. 90-96 (Ch. 7: “Prize-Giving and Celebrations” and Ch. 8: “Politics, Scandal, and Propaganda”—stop before “Politics and Sport”)

·        Arete pp. 76-80 (Sections 110-118, “Rewards for Victory”)

·        Be ready to sign up for an event in which you will take part in next class’s Olympic competition


Day 8 (Thursday, September 15)

Assignments due today:

·        Contest the ancient Olympic games

o   Meet on the football field

o   Dress appropriately

o   Be ready to enact everything that you have learned about the ancient Olympics.  You will not have to take part in every event, but I would like you to take part in at least of them.

·        In advance of class:

o   Review everything you have learned about the Olympics: the order of events, the way that each event is done, the matters leading up to the athletic events, ceremonies in the midst of, before, and after the athletic competitions, etc.

o   Be able to answer questions about any aspect of the ancient Olympics about which we have learned.


Day 9 (Tuesday, September 20)

Assignments due today:

·        Read the following page ranges from The Roman Games:


Day 10 (Thursday, September 22)

Assignments due today:


Day 11 (Tuesday, September 27)

Assignments due today:

·        COURSE EXAM


Day 12 (Thursday, September 29)

Assignments due today:

·        In class: work on projects with group members


Day 13 (Tuesday, October 4)

Assignments due today:

·        Do necessary work to get projects into shape to be finished during class

·        In class: work on projects with group members


Day 14 (Thursday, October 6)

Assignments due today:


·        Groups will present their projects to the class


Day 15 (Tuesday, October 11)

Assignments due today:

·        Self-evaluations of work on projects due


·        Groups will present their projects to the class


October 22, 1-4 PM

Classics Day—required event

Be present on the Quad by 12:45 to get dressed and to set up your station


This schedule is subject to change.  Small changes I will announce in class, and larger ones I will provide in writing.