The sailing of this fleet was the beginning of trouble not only for Greece, but for other peoples.” – Herodotus on the Athenian involvement in the Ionian Revolt

For more than 2,000 years the Greek and Persian Wars have been viewed through the lens of “The West”. It could hardly be otherwise given the near-monopoly Greek sources have on some of the historical narrative. The gateway to much of Achaemenid Persian history runs through Greek writers.

When in 498BCE the young and feisty democracy in Athens decides to send a small fleet to aid their fellow Greeks in Asia Minor to rebel against the Achaemenid Persians they incurred the wrath of the greatest empire the world had yet known. Herodotus says the Persian king tasked an attendant to prompt him thrice daily to “remember the Athenians” lest he forget to take revenge on them.

From this moment on Greek and Persian destinies seem to become unbreakably intertwined. When Persia’s armies conduct amphibious landings in Greece in the 5th Century BCE they initiate what was at that time almost certainly the largest, most sophisticated military conflict in European history. Both sides will become perhaps the first adversaries to face off in what has often been portrayed as an ongoing, millenia-long competition between “East” and “West”. Both sides will also help sow the seeds for the other’s eventual historical eclipse.

Polyhistoria courses emphasize critical thinking, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. We believe that students learn best by doing what scholars do. Academics and professional historians analyze and evaluate a variety of primary sources, interpret their meanings, and construct an interpretation based on the empirical evidence.  This Inquiry-Guided Learning approach requires students to integrate different sources of information into a logical whole rather than passively memorizing the analysis of others and facilitates higher levels of critical thinking, as measured through Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Levels.

In the tradition of Socrates, we encourage questioning and inquiry among today’s youth. We encourage rigorous (but not ad hominem) discourse, questioning textbooks and instructors alike, and tirelessly trying to improve what we do. We are a learning community where learners and instructors engage in a process of discovery and problem-solving together.

We believe in creating a truly welcoming space, where learners can come together with understanding, dignity, and compassion, and where diverse backgrounds and life experiences are embraced.

Learning is not a spectator sport. Interaction and intellectual exchanges involving all students and the instructor enrich learning for all. Studying social sciences involves an accumulation of knowledge about the past. But it also requires that we communicate that knowledge to others. You must be ready to share your views in class. A worthwhile course depends upon active participation by all students in class discussions.

The goal here is to advance an intelligent conversation from which we all learn. The most obvious way to do that is to say smart things and say them clearly. But that is not the only meaningful way to participate. Asking a question, connecting something already on the table to another thing, clarifying something that someone else has said, and offering evidence from the text under discussion are also all valuable. Bonus points are awarded for contributions that draw on what others have said. Other things to keep in mind: aim for clarity, keep in mind the value of an amicable classroom environment, and try not to monopolize the conversation.

1) Students’ cameras and microphones must be turned on during the class.
2) This class requires the continuous use of logical thinking & hypothetical reasoning skills to critically and creatively analyze the topics covered in the class. These cognitive functions are generally not sufficiently developed until a student is 13+ years old. Students must have the ability to think critically and logically to analyze the topics covered in the class.

1 hour per week in class, and an estimated 0 – 1 hour per week outside of class.

Meets once a week for 8 weeks
4 – 9 learners, ages 13-18


Week 1
March 11


Week 2
March 25

Week 3
April 1


Week 4
April 15

Week 5
April 22

Week 6
April 29

Week 7
May 6

Week 8
May 13


The Histories (Everyman’s Library)

Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia

The World of Achaemenid Persia: History, Art and Society in Iran and the Ancient Near East

A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000 – 323 BC, 2nd Edition

The Persian Empire

From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire (French Edition)


From Sumer to Rome: The Military Capabilities of Ancient Armies (Contributions in Military Studies)

Our Oriental Heritage Part 1

Diodorus Siculus I: The Historical Library in Forty Books (Volume 1)

Armies of the Ancient Near East, 3,000 BC to 539 BC: organisation, tactics, dress and equipment

The Histories

The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories (Landmark Books)

A History of the Ancient World

The Persian Expedition (Penguin Classics)

The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece

The Greco-Persian Wars

The Defence of Greece: 490-479 BC (Aris and Phillips Classical Texts)

The Ancient Historians

Persians (Greek Tragedy in New Translations)

Classical Bearings

History of the Persian Empire

Combat Trauma and the Ancient Greeks (The New Antiquity)

A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire (Ancient Near East)

The Greek Wars: The Failure of Persia

Towards One World: Ancient Persia and the West (Asia in Europe and the Making of the West)

History of the Art of War, Vol. 1: Warfare in Antiquity

Greek Warfare: Myth and Realities

The Iliad (Signet Classics)

Warhorse: Cavalry in Ancient Warfare

The Art of War in Western World

Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity

Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army

Persians (Greek Tragedy in New Translations)

Ctesias’ ‘History of Persia’: Tales of the Orient (Routledge Classical Translations)

Towards One World: Ancient Persia and the West (Asia in Europe and the Making of the West)

Philip II of Macedonia: Greater than Alexander

Diodorus Siculus I: The Historical Library in Forty Books (Volume 1)

The Origins Of War: From The Stone Age To Alexander The Great, Revised Edition (History & Warfare)

Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.

The Madness of Alexander the Great: And the Myth of Military Genius

The Generalship Of Alexander The Great

Alexander and the East: The Tragedy of Triumph (Clarendon Paperbacks)

Thrilled by the opportunity to teach cutting-edge social science scholarship to teenagers, I leapt at the opportunity to teach classes online. I enjoy old, rare books and gardening in Colorado, where even the incompetent can have beautiful roses. In addition to teaching and gardening, I remain actively involved in competitive sports, and you are cautioned not to wager against me at the ping-pong table.

I teach ancient languages, human & political world geography, history, philosophy, economics, political science …and anything else that catches my interest.


Feel free to send me an email at


Come hang out with me on Twitter for more tidbits of interesting research, linguistic curiosities, and forgotten history.