Classics 160D3: Crime and Punishment in the Ancient World

(ABOVE: Jacques-Louis David, "The Death of Socrates," 1787)


John Bauschatz



Contact Info:

Office: Social Sciences 135
Phone: (520) 621-7422 (office)


This course explores the history of criminal justice systems in the ancient Mediterranean through close examination of select primary sources. Its primary focus is Greece and Rome, but it will also cover Pharaonic Egypt and the Ancient Near East. We shall move chronologically, geographically, and topically, treating a broad range of literary and archaeological evidence. Of central importance to the course will be the issue of boundaries: between right and wrong, imprisonment and freedom, individual and state. Law codes from Mesopotamia, tomb robbery in the Egyptian New Kingdom, the trial and execution of Socrates, police in the streets of Rome, execution by gladiator, spiritual and allegorical punishment: the course encompasses it all!


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Describe the ancient Mediterranean conception(s) of right, wrong, law, justice, crime and punishment.
  • Explain how attitudes towards these same conceptions changed over time and across cultures.
  • List a number of ancient authors whose works touch on the issues of crime and punishment and discuss their works.
  • Compare and contrast law codes from a variety of ancient Mediterranean civilizations.
  • Highlight how religious beliefs and personal values impacted law and order in the ancient world.


There are no prerequisites.


The readings for this course will include selections from a number of texts which concern crime and punishment in the ancient world in one way or another: among these inscriptions from ancient Mesopotamia (Hammurabi's Code) and Egypt (The Harem Conspiracy and Tomb Robberies); classics of Greco-Roman literature, both prose (Plato's Apology, the speeches of Lysias and Demosthenes) and poetry (Sophocles' Oedipus the King; Hesiod's Works and Days); Roman law codes (the Codex Theodisianus); the autobiography of an emperor (the Res Gestae of Augustus) as well as letters written to one (Pliny's Letters, book 10); and even accounts of trips to hell (Virgil's Aeneid; Dante's Inferno). The full list of readings appears below (see the Course Schedule).

There is one required text for this course:

  • John Bauschatz, ed. Crime and Punishment in the Ancient World. First edition. Cognella, 2016.

This is a sourcebook of primary readings for CLAS 160D3 available exclusively from Cognella/University Readers. ***Students must order this text directly from the publisher at the following url:***

Any additional reading assignments for the course will be posted pn the course D2L site. Many (most?) of the readings will be in .pdf format. To view/download them, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader (free download available here).


Grading for the course will be based on the following breakdown:

  • Worksheets (25%): There are 15 brief comprehension worksheets to complete, one for each assignment. These can be found on D2L (see the "Worksheets" section of the course D2L page). Complete these—with responses of ca 50–75 words per question—and submit them electronically on D2L for grading (using the "Dropbox" feature). I suggest that you use them as study guides for quizzes and as notes for your short papers. Your lowest three worksheet grades will be dropped.

  • Quizzes (20%): There is a brief (15 minute) D2L quiz to complete for each reading assignment = a total of 15 in all. If you do the readings—and complete/review the comprehension worksheets in advance—you should have no trouble doing well on the quizzes. Your lowest three quiz grades will be dropped.

  • Discussions (25%): The quality and quantity of your participation in (online) class discussions. There will be an online discussion forum for each assignment featuring one critical thinking question for you to answer. *In your group, you will need to first start your own thread to respond to the question in a paragraph of about 200 words. Next, you should read each of the other threads in your group, and respond to three other students' responses with responses of your own of about 100 words each.* 50% of a given week's discussion grade will come from your initial response, 10% from each of your replies, and 20% from reading all of the other threads. Your lowest three discussion grades will be dropped.

  • Short Papers (30% [10% each]): Three 750-word (minimum) response papers based on course readings will be assigned. These are meant to be exercises in analytical thinking and should not require any additional research or reading (though you are certainly welcome to do additional work, if you like!). The topics for each paper are posted on D2L (in the "Short Papers" folder). The papers are to be submitted online (on D2L, via the Dropbox feature) and will lose one letter grade for each day late (Saturdays and Sundays included). You will have the option to revise either your first or your second paper for a better grade if you choose. If you would like to do this, please email your TA to set up a meeting (in person, by phone or online) after you have received your grade for the paper in question to discuss ways in which you can improve it. Revised papers are due (in the original Dropbox for the paper) no later than two weeks after the original grades for the paper in question are posted.


There are two teaching assistants (TAs) for this course. The TAs will answer your questions about course policies, readings and assignments, and be responsible for grading much of your written work over the course of the semester. The TAs are the first points of contact for all questions about the course. You should not come to me with questions or complaints until you have first spoken with a TA and have been unable to resolve your issue with him/her.

TAs for CLAS 160D3, Spring 2016:

office hours: Tu/Th, 3:30–5:00 p.m., Social Sciences 124

FaceTime/email office hours: M, 8–11 a.m.; Th, 8–10 a.m.

You are welcome to contact/visit either of the HIST 203 TAs with general questions about assignments or the course, though if you have an issue with a grade or an assignment, you should do your best to meet with the TA who grades your work. If your TA's posted office hours do not work with your schedule, please see about making an appointment for another day/time before contacting the other TA!

I will also hold weekly office hours in my office, Social Sciences 135: Mondays, noon–2 p.m. and Wednesdays, 1–2 p.m. These times are reserved for students doing honors contracts, those with issues that they have been unable to resolve with the TAs or those with general questions about the course.


  • Course Content: Course readings will regularly contain brutally violent, sexually graphic and/or otherwise potentially offensive material. I assume that all students enrolled in CLAS 160D3 are mature enough to handle such material and suggest that anyone easily offended by such material not take the course.
  • Honors Contracts: Students wishing to earn Honors in CLAS 160D3 must select their own topics for their short papers and have these topics pre-approved by the instructor.
  • D2L: As mentioned above, students in CLAS 160D3 will be expected to be familiar with D2L ("Desire2Learn"), the University's online course content management system. Our use of D2L in CLAS 160D3 will be extensive: we will use D2L not only as a repository for course documents (additional readings, course handouts, etc.) and as a place to post grades, but also for quizzes and for updates about the course. If you are unfamiliar with D2L, see the D2L help homepage.
  • Grades: Grades will be entered on D2L within two weeks of the assignment due date or test/quiz administration date. ***It is your responsibility to keep track of your grades over the course of the semester. You have one week from the date of a posted grade to appeal it. After that, the assumption is that you have seen the grade and are OK with it.*** Grades for assignments turned in after posted due dates—and without documented excuses for the lateness—are only awarded at the discretion of the professor/TAs. At the very least, late assignments will lose one letter grade (= 10 points off of the overall grade for the assignment) for every day they are late. Assignments that are five or more days late will receive no grade.
  • Paper Grading: The following rubric will be used to compile your grades on papers in CLAS 160D3 (with thanks to Jennifer Kendall!):

    Category & Description Max Points

    1.) Paper Mechanics

    15 points: The essay adheres to all of the mechanical requirements (formatting, length, margins, proper citations and following any specific instructions for content in the paper assignment).

    10 points: The essay has one or two mechanical errors.

    5 points: The essay has numerous mechanical errors.

    0 points: The essay has numerous mechanical errors and/or is less than the required length.


    B.) Grammar/Spelling/Composition

    15 points: No / almost no spelling, grammar, punctuation or other compositional errors are present. The essay clearly appears to have been proofread and edited.

    10 points: There are a few grammar, spelling, punctuation or other compositional errors but the essay appears to have been proofread and edited.

    5 points: There are many grammar, spelling, punctuation or other compositional errors present.

    0 points: Numerous errors make the essay difficult to read and/or excessively long quotations or paraphrases are used.


    C.) Content

    70 points: The depth of analysis greatly exceeds expectations, details are many and organization is excellent.

    55 points: The depth of analysis is good, as are details and organization, and minimum expectations are exceeded.

    40 points: The essay is basic with an adequate analysis.

    25 points: The essay is poor all around, but there is at least an attempt to follow directions.

    10 points: The essay is poor all around, and there is little to no evidence that the author followed instructions. But at least he/she handed something in!

    Total Possible Points:
  • Final Grades: For the final grade, the following breakdown will be used:

    A+ = 98–100 A = 93–97 A- = 90–92
    B+ = 88–89 B = 83–87 B- = 80–82
    C+ = 78–79 C = 73–77 C- = 70–72
    D+ = 68–69 D = 63–67 D- = 60–62
    F+ = 58–59 F = 53–57 F- = 0–52

    Final grades ending in .5 or higher will be rounded up; those ending in .49 or lower will be rounded down.

  • Writing: If you would like help with your writing, the University’s Writing Skills Improvement Program may be a valuable resource. The Program offers professional individual tutoring in writing for students, as well as a number of different types of writing workshops. Register online and improve your prose!
  • Cheating: Surprise! Cheating is not allowed. If you cheat, and I find out, you will receive a grade of 0 for the assignment and other bad things will happen. (See the U of A's code of academic integrity.)


There are fifteen assigments in CLAS 160D3. Each assignment consists of readings to do, images to view, a reading worksheet to complete, a quiz to take and a discussion to participate in. As noted above, in addition to these fifteen basic assignments there are three short papers to complete. You will be able to complete each of the papers after completing a set number of basic assignments (specific details on what you will be able to do when can be found in the table below).

Since this is an online course, it is in large part self-paced, but not completely. Whereas you are welcome to work as far ahead as you like, and finish the course super-early, there are also non-negotiable due dates for every assignment in the course, so you can't, say, wait until the last couple of weeks of the semester and do everything then.

***Please note: as of Assignment 5, initial posts on D2L discussions are due no later than 5 p.m. on the Thursday of the week in question. This is to allow each student enough time to read every thread in their group—and reply to three threads—in advance of the Friday, 5 p.m. deadline for handing in the rest of the assignment.***

Here's an outline of what is due when:

  • Friday, 1/22, 5 p.m.: Assignment 1
  • Friday, 1/22, 5 p.m.: Assignment 2
  • Friday, 1/29, 5 p.m.: Assignment 3
  • Friday, 2/5, 5 p.m: Assignment 4
  • Friday, 2/12, 5 p.m.: Assignment 5; Short Paper #1; ***first discussion thread by Thursday, 2/11 at 5 p.m.***
  • Friday, 2/19, 5 p.m: Assignment 6; ***first discussion thread by Thursday, 2/18 at 5 p.m.***
  • Friday, 2/26, 5 p.m.: Assignment 7; ***first discussion thread by Thursday, 2/25 at 5 p.m.***
  • Friday, 3/4, 5 p.m.: Assignment 8; ***first discussion thread by Thursday, 3/3 at 5 p.m.***
  • Friday, 3/11, 5 p.m.: Assignment 9; ***first discussion thread by Thursday, 3/10 at 5 p.m.***
  • Friday, 3/25, 5 p.m.: Assignment 10; Short Paper #2; ***first discussion thread by Thursday, 3/24 at 5 p.m.***
  • Friday, 4/1, 5 p.m.: Assignment 11; ***first discussion thread by Thursday, 3/31 at 5 p.m.***
  • Friday, 4/8, 5 p.m.: Assignment 12; ***first discussion thread by Thursday, 4/7 at 5 p.m.***
  • Friday, 4/15, 5 p.m.: Assignment 13; ***first discussion thread by Thursday, 4/14 at 5 p.m.***
  • Friday, 4/22, 5 p.m.: Assignment 14; ***first discussion thread by Thursday, 4/21 at 5 p.m.***
  • Friday, 4/29, 5 p.m.: Assignment 15; ***first discussion thread by Thursday, 4/28 at 5 p.m.***
  • Friday, 5/6, 5 p.m.: Short Paper #3

What follows is a list of assignments for CLAS 160D3 during the spring semester. Check this page often, as readings and assignments are subject to change. I will also (of course!) give you all a heads-up over email or on the course D2L page if a major shake-up is imminent.

Assignment Topic

Introductions: Life in the Ancient Near East

READ: Canadian Museum of History pages on Egyptian civilization and Oriental Institute pages on Mesopotamian civilization (click on each of the links on each page for brief overviews of daily life, religion, warfare, etc.)

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 1/22, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #1, D2L Quiz #1, Discussion #1

SEE: maps of ancient Egypt and the "Fertile Crescent," a.k.a. Mesopotamia


Mesopotamia: Birthplace of Civilization (and Law Codes!)

READ (D2L): Introduction, Hammurabi's Laws; (Bauschatz): Hammurabi's Laws (pp1–25)

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 1/22, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #2, D2L Quiz #2, Discussion #2

SEE: Hammurabi's Laws, on a giant stone finger and on a clay tablet


Egypt: Land of Crime?

READ (D2L): Joyce Tyldesley, "The Vizier: Upholder of Justice" (Chapter 2 of Judgement of the Pharaoh: Crime and Punishment in Ancient Egypt [London, 2000]); information on ancient papyri from Egypt; info on the Judicial Turin Papyrus and P.Leopold II-Amherst; (Bauschatz): the Judicial Turin Papyrus (pp45–57); P.Leopold II-Amherst (pp59–62)

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 1/29, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #3, D2L Quiz #3, Discussion #3

SEE: the Vizier Kagemni, 24th century B.C.; P. Leopold II-Amherst (one of the tomb robbery papyri)

*You are now able to write short paper #1*


Right and Wrong in Greece and Egypt: The Eloquent Peasant and Hesiod's Works and Days

READ: basic info on The Eloquent Peasant and Hesiod; (Bauschatz): The Eloquent Peasant (pp27–44); Hesiod, Works and Days (pp63–93)

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 2/5, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #4, D2L Quiz #4, Discussion #4

SEE: a papyrus containing The Eloquent Peasant


Short Paper #1; Greek Law and Society

READ (D2L): Douglas MacDowell, "Greek Law" (pp589–606 of M. Grant and R. Kitzinger, eds., Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean: Greece and Rome, vol. 1 [New York, 1988]); (Bauschatz): Xenophon, Constitution of the Spartans (pp95–114)

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 2/12, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #5, D2L Quiz #5, Discussion #5; ***first discussion thread due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, 2/11***

SEE: map of ancient Greece (Crete is at the bottom of the page; Athens and Sparta are northwest of the island); the Gortyn Law Code (a section)

SUBMIT (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 2/12, AT 5 P.M.: Short Paper #1


Murder, etc., in Athens

READ (D2L): basic info on trials at Athens (CareyIntroduction.pdf); (Bauschatz): Lysias 1, On the Murder of Eratosthenes (pp115–123); Antiphon 1, Accusation of Poisoning against the Stepmother (pp125–130); Demosthenes 54, Against Conon for Battery (pp131–141)

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 2/19, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #6, D2L Quiz #6, Discussion #6; ***first discussion thread due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, 2/18***

SEE: map of ancient Athens (with some buildings labeled); Greek water clocks (used to time court speeches); ballot disks (used to determine verdicts in Athenian courts)


Plato, Socrates and the Great Defense

READ: basic info on Plato and Socrates; (Bauschatz): Plato, Apology of Socrates (pp143–172); Plato, Crito (pp173–185)

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 2/26, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #7, D2L Quiz #7, Discussion #7; ***first discussion thread due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, 2/25***

SEE: Jacques-Louis David, "The Death of Socrates," 1787 (top of page); Socrates; Plato

*You are now able to write short paper #2*


Divine Punishment

READ: basic info on Sophocles and Greek tragedy; (Bauschatz): Sophocles, Oedipus the King (pp187–258)

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 3/4, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #8, D2L Quiz #8, Discussion #8; ***first discussion thread due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, 3/3***

SEE: cup featuring Oedipus and the Sphynx; diagram of a Greek theater; Greek theater, Epidaurus; tragic masks


Crime and Punishment in Ptolemaic Egypt

READ: basic info on the Ptolemies; (Bauschatz): John Bauschatz, selections from Law and Enforcement in Ptolemaic Egypt (pp259–286)

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 3/11, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #9, D2L Quiz #9, Discussion #9; ***first discussion thread due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, 3/10***

SEE: map of Ptolemaic Egypt (Egypt from 323–30 B.C.); draft of a petition in Greek to an official (P.Coll.Youtie I 16)

  Spring Break

Short Paper #2; Rome, Augustus and the Res Gestae

READ: basic info on Roman history here (early), here (later), here (the time of Julius Caesar) and here (the lives of average citizens); basic info on the emperor Augustus; (Bauschatz): The Deeds of the Divine Augustus (pp287–295)

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 3/25, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #10, D2L Quiz #10, Discussion #10; ***first discussion thread due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, 3/24***

SEE: the Prima Porta statue of Augustus; map of the Roman empire (note how small it was ca 500 B.C.!); map of ancient Italy

SUBMIT (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 3/25, AT 5 P.M.: Short Paper #2


Life and Law in the Roman Provinces

READ: info on Pliny the Younger and the emperor Trajan; (Bauschatz): Pliny, Epistles, book 10 (X) (pp331–360)

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 4/1, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #11, D2L Quiz #11, Discussion #11; ***first discussion thread due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, 3/31***

SEE: map of the Roman empire under Trajan (ruled A.D.98–117); Trajan's Column, Rome; Trajan's Column (2); Column, detail; map of the Roman province of Bithynia and Pontus (in dark red); Pliny the Younger, statue


Condemned to the Colosseum: Gladiatorial Punishment

READ: info on Roman gladiators; (D2L): Chapters 1–3 (pp1–15) of E. Clark, "Capital Punishment in Ancient Rome" (Honors Thesis, Classics, Xavier University, 2005)

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 4/8, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #12, D2L Quiz #12, Discussion #12; ***first discussion thread due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, 4/7***

SEE: scenes from the Zliten Mosaic (Libya, 2nd century A.D.) illustrating Roman gladiator types, executions of criminals and musicians; some types of gladiators; Pollice Verso, 1872 painting by Jean-Leon Gerôme


Cops and Robbers

READ (D2L): R.W.S. Davies, "Augustus Caesar: A Police System in the Ancient World," Chapter 1 of Pioneers in Policing, pp 12–26 (pp207–227; notes optional); biography of Lucian; (Bauschatz): Lucian, Alexander the Quack Prophet (pp361–384); more information on Glykon

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 4/15, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #13, D2L Quiz #13, Discussion #13; ***first discussion thread due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, 4/14***

SEE: Glykon the snake-god: statue 1; statue 2; coin; map of Abonouteichos (top center of map), the city in Bithynia where Alexander the False Prophet takes place


The Jurists

READ: Theodosian Code basic info; (Bauschatz): Theodosian Code, Book 9, Titles 2–17 (pp385–411)

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 4/22, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #14, D2L Quiz #14, Discussion #14; ***first discussion thread due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, 4/21***

SEE: bust and coin of Roman emperor Theodosius II (ruled 408–450 A.D.); map of the Roman Empire in the 5th century A.D. (notice the two halves)

*You are now able to write short paper #3*


Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don't: Punishment in Hell

READ: basic info on Virgil and the Aeneid; summary of the Aeneid, books 1–5; (Bauschatz): Virgil, Aeneid, book 6 (pp297–330); Dante, short biography; Inferno: summary; (Bauschatz): Inferno, Cantos i–v (pp413–440)

COMPLETE (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 4/29, AT 5 P.M.: Reading Worksheet #15, D2L Quiz #15, Discussion #15; ***first discussion thread due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, 4/28***

SEE: statue of Aeneas carrying Anchises and leading Iulus from Troy; follower of Jan Mandyn (ca 1500–1560), Aeneas in the Underworld; map of Italy in Dante's time; map of hell in the Inferno 1; map 2 (by Botticelli - and interactive!); Inferno manuscript from the 14th century illustrating the ninth circle


Short Paper #3

SUBMIT (D2L) BY FRIDAY, 5/6, AT 5 P.M.: Short Paper #3

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