History 151-06

Western Civilization to 1650


Paper #1

Due 12:30 p.m., September 27, in-class



(Read Entire Assignment, Including Guidelines)



In his famous funeral oration, the Athenian statesman Pericles extolled the virtues of Athenian democracy, a system of government in which political power (sovereignty) was not only derived from the citizenry, but was directly exercised by it. But according to several ancient Greek and Roman authors, democracy was potentially unstable and could ultimately threaten the rights and interests of the very citizens from whom it derived its authority. Nevertheless, some of these same critics also believed that the primary function of “good” governments and constitutions was still to protect the rights and serve the interests of the citizenry  (or at least the greatest part of it).


In an essay of 1200-1500 words, briefly discuss some of criticisms that contemporary critics of democracy in the ancient Mediterranean world leveled against it. Then, analyze two (2) constitutional alternatives or solutions put forward by two (2) different authors that you have read so far this semester (up to week 5) that sought to balance the need for stability while at the same time fulfilling the primary role of “good” government: protecting the rights and serving the best interests of the citizenry. Which of these solutions do you believe is most relevant to the subsequent evolution of Western political traditions and constitutions? Why?


Choose only from these texts in the course reader:


Š         Thucydides, “Funeral Oration of Pericles” from History of the Peloponnesian War

Š         The Old Oligarch, “The Polity of the Athenians”

Š         Xenophon, “The Polity of the Spartans”

Š         Plato, excerpts from The Republic

Š         Aristotle, excerpts from The Politics

Š         Plato, “The Apology” and The Republic

Š         Aristotle, Ethics

Š         Polybius, Book VI of The Histories

Š         Sallust, The Catiline Conspiracy and The Jurgurthine War

Š         Aelius Aristes, “The Roman Oration”

Š         Tacitus, Annals, speech of Claudius on Admitting Provincials to the Senate

Š         Tacitus, Agricola, speech of Calgacus on Roman Imperialism

Š         Flavius Josphesus, The Wars of the Jews


Basic Guidelines: There are many ways to go about writing this essay, but here are some general guidelines you should adhere to (read carefully).


Š         State your thesis clearly in an introductory paragraph and pursue it consistently throughout the essay. A thesis can be more than one sentence, especially if it is suggesting some of the finer points your essay will make, but try to keep it to the point. For this paper, a brief answer to the question “Which of these solutions do you believe is most relevant to the subsequent evolution of Western political traditions and constitutions? Why?” would be a suitable thesis.  Your introductory paragraph should also include a brief introduction to the topic and the primary sources you are drawing on. This can be accomplished in just a few sentences. But remember that you only have 1500 words, or about 4-5 pages, so don’t waste words on unnecessary information or background. Instead, start analyzing evidence to make your argument.


Š         Write clear topic sentences for each paragraph and develop smooth transitions from one paragraph to another.  Some words that help maintain the smooth flow of your prose include: furthermore, in addition, moreover, still, nevertheless, however, but, as well, one the one hand/on the other hand, as a result, likewise, etc. (click here for more). Avoid a conclusion that simply summarizes your paper or restates your thesis.  Instead, use your conclusion to build on your argument and analysis while at the same time reminding your reader of your main point.


Š         DO NOT use the first person “I” (or “me,” “we,” “us,” or “you”). You can make your own informed opinions or interpretations clear without doing so.


Š         You may use direct quotations from the reading to illustrate your points, but they may not exceed 15% (150-180) of the total words in the paper.  To cite the text, simply write the author’s name, an abbreviated title, and the page number from the course reader.  For example, (Aristotle, Politics, 26) or (Polybius, Histories, 47) Longer quotations (more than two lines) should be put into “block” form (indented 1” from the text and single-spaced). You do not need to cite me if you bring up a point from lecture or any other fact that might be considered “general knowledge”. For example, while it may have been new to you, the fact that Socrates died in 399 BCE or that Athens lost the Peloponnesian War are considered “general knowledge.” You do not need to use – and really should avoid – other sources, particularly online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia.


Š         Grammar, spelling, and proper use of the English language do indeed “count” on this writing assignment.  In addition to running the spell checker, you should read your paper aloud to yourself or to a friend, as that is one of the best ways to catch awkward, clumsy, and incoherent sentences. If you don’t know the difference between “its” and “it’s,” “there,” “they’re,” and “their,” and “to” and “too,” find out now. Also, very few people know how to use a semi-colon properly; your best bet is not to use it at all.


Š         You must submit, yourself, a hardcopy in class at 12:30 pm on September 27 to your teaching assistant. In addition, you must also submit a copy to Blackboard (go to “Assignments” and follow the directions).  Five points will be taken off for each calendar day (including Saturday and Sunday) that your paper is late, beginning at 12:35 pm on September 28. If you don’t want to submit a paper because you think it is not yet ready, ask yourself if an extra day or two is going to make up for the 5 or 10 points you will lose for lateness. Unstapled and emailed papers will not be accepted.


Š         Plagiarism, especially from sources on the Internet, is a growing problem on college campuses across the country.  While this is clearly an unfortunate trend, the irony is that most plagiarized, purchased, or “borrowed” papers are of rather low quality. You’re much better off relying on your own good, creative analysis than trying to pass off the uncreative, poor analysis of someone else as your own! We will, of course, use all of the tools at our disposal to catch plagiarism, which is rather easy to do, and all cases of plagiarism will be brought to the Honor Court. You should also know that I have an electronic copy of all papers submitted to my courses at UNC since 2006. I have organized them into one easy-to-search file and we will be conducting random checks. So, if you’re tempted to plagiarize or use a stolen paper, you might want to first ask yourself if one paper worth 15% of the grade in your Western Civilization course is really worth jeopardizing your college career for?  Probably not.


Format, Organization, and Style:  We are sticklers for proper format!  Your paper must be typed, double-spaced, and use a 12-point Times or Times New Roman font.  Only black ink should be used.  Papers submitted in any other color will not be accepted.  If your printer is low on black ink, buy some more, as points will be deducted if the print is streaked, unclear, or too light.  Your paper should have 1-inch margins on the top and bottom and 1.25-inch margins on the right and left (for comments).  At the bottom of the page, you must include a word count and honor statement exactly as written below


This is how your paper should look:



Your Name

PID #:

History 151 - Hunziker

Your TA’s Name




Body of Paper (double spaced)



Word Count:  (use the “word count” tool in MS Word; include body of the paper only; do not exceed 1600 words.)


Honor Pledge:  This paper is entirely my own work.  I did not plagiarize in any way or have someone else write any portion of this paper for me.  (Your signature here.)