CLAS219-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024

Sport and Leisure in the Ancient World

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 February 2024
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 3 March 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 12 May 2024


A study of the impact of sport and leisure on various aspects of ancient life and their modern reconstructions. Note: course requirements in this combined 200 and 300-level course will be appropriate to the level at which the student is enrolled.

Sport and leisure practices were important for the ancient Greeks and Romans as they are today and comprise one of the greatest legacies of the ancient world on the modern, not least the idea of the Olympic Games. This course considers ancient forms of athletic contest and competition as well as other practices including: Greek games held during the Olympic and other festivals and their celebration in art and literature; the symposium and the convivium; chariot-racing and circus contests in Rome; and Roman blood-sport (animal fights, gladiatorial contests and punishments of criminals in spectacles).

We will examine both the archaeological and literary evidence for such events; we also look at the idea of athletes in myth, art and literature, as well as the impact that these competitions have had on our modern perceptions of sport, leisure and athletic contest.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understanding of the nature, forms and functions of ancient athletics, public games and leisure activities from Archaic Greece to the Roman imperial period, including: ancient Olympic Games, life in Sparta, gladiatorial and other contests, feasting, etc., as well as ancient attitudes to these practices.
  • Understanding of the impact of sport and leisure on various aspects of ancient life: mythology, erotics and sexuality, gender differentiation, social status, ethnic identity, political power, religious rituals, art and literature.
  • Enhanced ability to develop a holistic approach to the subject by handling a wide range of primary source material (literary, historical, iconographic, archaeological, and cinematic) and approaches (philology, socio-cultural history, literary analysis, archaeological investigations, media studies) in understanding ancient sport and leisure.
  • Development of students' skills in critical thinking and contributions to class discussions
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 15 points at 100 level from CLAS, or
any 60 points at 100 level from the Schedule V of the BA.


Recommended Preparation

Any 100-level course in CLAS.

Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 14:00 - 15:00 E6 Lecture Theatre
19 Feb - 31 Mar
22 Apr - 2 Jun
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 10:00 - 11:00 Jack Erskine 031 Lecture Theatre
19 Feb - 31 Mar
22 Apr - 2 Jun
Lecture C
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 10:00 - 11:00 Rehua 101 Lectorial (23/2)
A5 Lecture Theatre (1/3-22/3, 26/4-31/5)
19 Feb - 24 Mar
22 Apr - 2 Jun
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 12:00 - 13:00 Arts Centre 203 Camerata
26 Feb - 3 Mar
11 Mar - 17 Mar
25 Mar - 31 Mar
29 Apr - 5 May
13 May - 19 May
27 May - 2 Jun
02 Wednesday 13:00 - 14:00 Arts Centre 203 Camerata
26 Feb - 3 Mar
11 Mar - 17 Mar
25 Mar - 31 Mar
29 Apr - 5 May
13 May - 19 May
27 May - 2 Jun

Timetable Note

Tutorials are held at the City Campus, Arts Centre, 3 Hereford Street (lectures are at Ilam Campus)

Course Coordinators

Patrick O'Sullivan and Enrica Sciarrino


Please check the course LEARN page for further details and updates.

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Kyle, Donald G; Sport and spectacle in the ancient world ; Second edition; Wiley Blackwell, 2015.

This textbook will be uploaded as an e-book on Learn. Study material and reading lists for lectures will be made available by the lecturer(s) for each portion of the course and uploaded onto Learn. Powerpoint notes and lecture recordings will be uploaded onto Learn as well; however, these are not substitutes for lectures and tutorials.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $844.00

International fee $3,950.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities .

All CLAS219 Occurrences

  • CLAS219-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024