À propos de ce cours
Myths are traditional stories that have endured over a long time. Some of them have to do with events of great importance, such as the founding of a nation. Others tell the stories of great heroes and heroines and their exploits and courage in the face of adversity. Still others are simple tales about otherwise unremarkable people who get into trouble or do some great deed. What are we to make of all these tales, and why do people seem to like to hear them? This course will focus on the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, as a way of exploring the nature of myth and the function it plays for individuals, societies, and nations. We will also pay some attention to the way the Greeks and Romans themselves understood their own myths. Are myths subtle codes that contain some universal truth? Are they a window on the deep recesses of a particular culture? Are they a set of blinders that all of us wear, though we do not realize it? Or are they just entertaining stories that people like to tell over and over? This course will investigate these questions through a variety of topics, including the creation of the universe, the relationship between gods and mortals, human nature, religion, the family, sex, love, madness, and death. *********************************************************************************************************** COURSE SCHEDULE • Week 1: Introduction Welcome to Greek and Roman Mythology! This first week we’ll introduce the class, paying attention to how the course itself works. We’ll also begin to think about the topic at hand: myth! How can we begin to define "myth"? How does myth work? What have ancient and modern theorists, philosophers, and other thinkers had to say about myth? This week we’ll also begin our foray into Homer’s world, with an eye to how we can best approach epic poetry. Readings: No texts this week, but it would be a good idea to get started on next week's reading to get ahead of the game. Video Lectures: 1.1-1.7 Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week. • Week 2: Becoming a Hero In week 2, we begin our intensive study of myth through Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey. This core text not only gives us an exciting story to appreciate on its own merits but also offers us a kind of laboratory where we can investigate myth using different theoretical approaches. This week we focus on the young Telemachus’ tour as he begins to come of age; we also accompany his father Odysseus as he journeys homeward after the Trojan War. Along the way, we’ll examine questions of heroism, relationships between gods and mortals, family dynamics, and the Homeric values of hospitality and resourcefulness. Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 1-8 Video Lectures: 2.1-2.10 Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week. • Week 3: Adventures Out and Back This week we’ll follow the exciting peregrinations of Odysseus, "man of twists and turns," over sea and land. The hero’s journeys abroad and as he re-enters his homeland are fraught with perils. This portion of the Odyssey features unforgettable monsters and exotic witches; we also follow Odysseus into the Underworld, where he meets shades of comrades and relatives. Here we encounter some of the best-known stories to survive from all of ancient myth. Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 9-16 Video Lectures: 3.1-3.10 Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week. • Week 4: Identity and Signs As he makes his way closer and closer to re-taking his place on Ithaca and with his family, a disguised Odysseus must use all his resources to regain his kingdom. We’ll see many examples of reunion as Odysseus carefully begins to reveal his identity to various members of his household—his servants, his dog, his son, and finally, his wife Penelope—while also scheming against those who have usurped his place. Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 17-24 Video Lectures: 4.1-4.8 Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week. • Week 5: Gods and Humans We will take a close look at the most authoritative story on the origin of the cosmos from Greek antiquity: Hesiod’s Theogony. Hesiod was generally considered the only poet who could rival Homer. The Theogony, or "birth of the gods," tells of an older order of gods, before Zeus, who were driven by powerful passions—and strange appetites! This poem presents the beginning of the world as a time of fierce struggle and violence as the universe begins to take shape, and order, out of chaos. Readings: Hesiod, Theogony *(the Works and Days is NOT required for the course)* Video Lectures: 5.1-5.9 Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week. • Week 6: Ritual and Religion This week’s readings give us a chance to look closely at Greek religion in its various guises. Myth, of course, forms one important aspect of religion, but so does ritual. How ancient myths and rituals interact teaches us a lot about both of these powerful cultural forms. We will read two of the greatest hymns to Olympian deities that tell up-close-and-personal stories about the gods while providing intricate descriptions of the rituals they like us humans to perform. Readings: Homeric Hymn to Apollo; Homeric Hymn to Demeter (there are two hymns to each that survive, only the LONGER Hymn to Apollo and the LONGER Hymn to Demeter are required for the course) Video Lectures: 6.1-6.7 Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week. • Week 7: Justice What counts as a just action, and what counts as an unjust one? Who gets to decide? These are trickier questions than some will have us think. This unit looks at one of the most famously thorny issues of justice in all of the ancient world. In Aeschylus’ Oresteia—the only surviving example of tragedy in its original trilogy form—we hear the story of Agamemnon’s return home after the Trojan War. Unlike Odysseus’ eventual joyful reunion with his wife and children, this hero is betrayed by those he considered closest to him. This family's cycle of revenge, of which this story is but one episode, carries questions of justice and competing loyalties well beyond Agamemnon’s immediate family, eventually ending up on the Athenian Acropolis itself. Readings: Aeschylus, Agamemnon; Aeschylus, Eumenides Video Lectures: 7.1-7.10 Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week. • Week 8: Unstable Selves This week we encounter two famous tragedies, both set at Thebes, that center on questions of guilt and identity: Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Eurpides’ Bacchae. Oedipus is confident that he can escape the unthinkable fate that was foretold by the Delphic oracle; we watch as he eventually realizes the horror of what he has done. With Odysseus, we saw how a great hero can re-build his identity after struggles, while Oedipus shows us how our identities can dissolve before our very eyes. The myth of Oedipus is one of transgressions—intentional and unintentional—and about the limits of human knowledge. In Euripides’ Bacchae, the identity of gods and mortals is under scrutiny. Here, Dionysus, the god of wine and of tragedy, and also madness, appears as a character on stage. Through the dissolution of Pentheus, we see the terrible consequences that can occur when a god’s divinity is not properly acknowledged. Readings: Sophocles, Oedipus Rex; Euripides, Bacchae Video Lectures: 8.1-8.9 Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week. • Week 9: The Roman Hero, Remade Moving ahead several centuries, we jump into a different part of the Mediterranean to let the Romans give us their take on myth. Although many poets tried to rewrite Homer for their own times, no one succeeded quite like Vergil. His epic poem, the Aeneid, chronicles a powerful re-building of a culture that both identifies with and defines itself against previously told myths. In contrast to the scarcity of information about Homer, we know a great deal about Vergil’s life and historical context, allowing us insight into myth-making in action. Readings: Vergil, Aeneid, books 1-5 Video Lectures: 9.1-9.10 Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week. • Week 10: Roman Myth and Ovid's Metamorphoses Our consideration of Vergil’s tale closes with his trip to the underworld in book 6. Next, we turn to a more playful Roman poet, Ovid, whose genius is apparent in nearly every kind of register. Profound, witty, and satiric all at once, Ovid’s powerful re-tellings of many ancient myths became the versions that are most familiar to us today. Finally, through the lens of the Romans and others who "remythologize," we wrap up the course with a retrospective look at myth. Readings: Vergil, Aeneid, book 6; Ovid, Metamorphoses, books 3, 12, and 13. Video Lectures: 10.1-10.9. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week. *********************************************************************************************************** READINGS There are no required texts for the course, however, Professor Struck will make reference to the following texts in the lecture: • Greek Tragedies, Volume 1, David Grene and Richmond Lattimore, trans. (Chicago) • Greek Tragedies, Volume 3, David Grene and Richmond Lattimore , trans. (Chicago) • Hesiod, Theogony and Works and Days, M. L. West, trans. (Oxford) • Homeric Hymns, Sarah Ruden, trans. (Hackett) • Homer, The Odyssey, Robert Fagles, trans. (Penguin) • Virgil, The Aeneid, Robert Fitzgerald, trans. (Vintage) • Ovid, Metamorphoses, David Raeburn, trans. (Penguin) These translations are a pleasure to work with, whereas many of the translations freely available on the internet are not. If you do not want to purchase them, they should also be available at many libraries. Again, these texts are not required, but they are helpful.
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Commencez dès maintenant et apprenez aux horaires qui vous conviennent.
Clock

Approx. 30 hours to complete

Recommandé : 4 hours/week
Comment Dots

English

Sous-titres : English, Romanian, Chinese (Simplified)
Globe

Cours en ligne à 100 %

Commencez dès maintenant et apprenez aux horaires qui vous conviennent.
Clock

Approx. 30 hours to complete

Recommandé : 4 hours/week
Comment Dots

English

Sous-titres : English, Romanian, Chinese (Simplified)

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Introduction

Welcome to Greek and Roman Mythology! This first week we’ll introduce the class, paying attention to how the course itself works. We’ll also begin to think about the topic at hand: myth! How can we begin to define "myth"? How does myth work? What have ancient and modern theorists, philosophers, and other thinkers had to say about myth? This week we’ll also begin our foray into Homer’s world, with an eye to how we can best approach epic poetry. Readings: No texts this week, but it would be a good idea to get started on next week's reading to get ahead of the game. Video Lectures: 1.1-1.7 Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week. ...
Reading
8 videos (Total 109 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video8 videos
1.1 What is Myth? 14m
1.2 Course Overview20m
1.3 Ancient Ideas on Myth 11m
1.4 Ideas on Myth from the Modern Era 16m
1.5 The Trojan War & The World of Homer 16m
1.6 Trojan War Aftermath and The Homer Question 14m
1.7 On Reading Homer 14m
Reading1 readings
Course Readings10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz 1: Introduction to the Course40m

2

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Becoming a Hero

In week 2, we begin our intensive study of myth through Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey. This core text not only gives us an exciting story to appreciate on its own merits but also offers us a kind of laboratory where we can investigate myth using different theoretical approaches. This week we focus on the young Telemachus’ tour as he begins to come of age; we also accompany his father Odysseus as he journeys homeward after the Trojan War. Along the way, we’ll examine questions of heroism, relationships between gods and mortals, family dynamics, and the Homeric values of hospitality and resourcefulness. Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 1-8. Video Lectures: 2.1-2.10. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
Reading
10 videos (Total 102 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video10 videos
2.2 Telemachus' Troubles 10m
2.3 Telemachus' Tour 15m
2.4 Odysseus on Ogygia 12m
2.5 Odysseus on Scheria 10m
2.6 Alcinous 9m
2.7 Knee-Grabbing 7m
2.8 Functionalism 9m
2.9 Reassembling the Hero 11m
2.10 Poetry and Demodocus 10m
Reading1 readings
Odyssey, books 1-810m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz 2: Becoming a Hero40m

3

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Adventures Out and Back

This week we’ll follow the exciting peregrinations of Odysseus, "man of twists and turns," over sea and land. The hero’s journeys abroad and as he re-enters his homeland are fraught with perils. This portion of the Odyssey features unforgettable monsters and exotic witches; we also follow Odysseus into the Underworld, where he meets shades of comrades and relatives. Here we encounter some of the best-known stories to survive from all of ancient myth. Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 9-16. Video Lectures: 3.1-3.10. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
Reading
10 videos (Total 110 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video10 videos
3.2 Cycle Two: Circe 7m
3.3 The Underworld 12m
3.4 Cycle 3: The Cattle of the Sun 13m
3.5 Food/Not Food 9m
3.6 Structuralism 16m
3.7 Inner and Outer Worlds 9m
3.8 Extracting Knowledge 8m
3.9 Meanwhile Telemachus... 4m
3.10 Reunion: Father and Sons 7m
Reading1 readings
Odyssey, books 9-1610m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz 3: Adventures Out and Back40m

4

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Identity and Signs

As he makes his way closer and closer to re-taking his place on Ithaca and with his family, a disguised Odysseus must use all his resources to regain his kingdom. We’ll see many examples of reunion as Odysseus carefully begins to reveal his identity to various members of his household—his servants, his dog, his son, and finally, his wife Penelope—while also scheming against those who have usurped his place. Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 17-24. Video Lectures: 4.1-4.8. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
Reading
8 videos (Total 86 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video8 videos
4.2 Signs as a Way of Knowing 10m
4.3 What Does Penelope Know? 12m
4.4 The Scar 11m
4.5 Penelope's Dream 8m
4.6 The Bow 9m
4.7 Reunion (Almost) 12m
4.8 Reunion 9m
Reading1 readings
Odyssey, books 17-2410m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz 4: Identity and Signs40m

5

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Gods and Humans

We will take a close look at the most authoritative story on the origin of the cosmos from Greek antiquity: Hesiod’s Theogony. Hesiod was generally considered the only poet who could rival Homer. The Theogony, or "birth of the gods," tells of an older order of gods, before Zeus, who were driven by powerful passions—and strange appetites! This poem presents the beginning of the world as a time of fierce struggle and violence as the universe begins to take shape, and order, out of chaos. Readings: Hesiod, Theogony *(the Works and Days is NOT required for the course)*. Video Lectures: 5.1-5.9. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
Reading
9 videos (Total 93 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video9 videos
5.2 Hesiod and Ancient Near East Connections 6m
5.3 Intro to Hesiod 15m
5.4 Hesiod's Opening Hymn to the Muses 10m
5.5 Earth and Sky 16m
5.6 Kronos and Rhea 6m
5.7 Humans and Sacrifice 6m
5.8 War, Cosmos, Reproduction 14m
5.9 Freud 12m
Reading2 readings
Further Reading: Freud (et al.) on myth10m
Hesiod's Theogony10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz 5: Gods and Humans40m

6

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Ritual and Religion

This week’s readings give us a chance to look closely at Greek religion in its various guises. Myth, of course, forms one important aspect of religion, but so does ritual. How ancient myths and rituals interact teaches us a lot about both of these powerful cultural forms. We will read two of the greatest hymns to Olympian deities that tell up-close-and-personal stories about the gods while providing intricate descriptions of the rituals they like us humans to perform. Readings: Homeric Hymn to Apollo; Homeric Hymn to Demeter (there are two hymns to each that survive, only the LONGER Hymn to Apollo and the LONGER Hymn to Demeter are required for the course). Video Lectures: 6.1-6.7. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
Reading
7 videos (Total 76 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video7 videos
6.2 Ritual and Religion 10m
6.3 The Hymn to Demeter10m
6.4 Themes in The Hymn to Demeter 11m
6.5 The Hymn to Apollo: Delos 8m
6.6 The Hymn to Apollo: Delphi 13m
6.7 Myth and Ritual 12m
Reading1 readings
Homeric Hymn to Apollo, Homeric Hymn to Demeter10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz 6: The Homeric Hymns40m

7

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Justice

What counts as a just action, and what counts as an unjust one? Who gets to decide? These are trickier questions than some will have us think. This unit looks at one of the most famously thorny issues of justice in all of the ancient world. In Aeschylus’ Oresteia—the only surviving example of tragedy in its original trilogy form—we hear the story of Agamemnon’s return home after the Trojan War. Unlike Odysseus’ eventual joyful reunion with his wife and children, this hero is betrayed by those he considered closest to him. This family's cycle of revenge, of which this story is but one episode, carries questions of justice and competing loyalties well beyond Agamemnon’s immediate family, eventually ending up on the Athenian Acropolis itself. Readings: Aeschylus, Agamemnon; Aeschylus, Eumenides. Video Lectures: 7.1-7.10. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
Reading
10 videos (Total 98 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video10 videos
7.2 Family Ties, Betrayals 14m
7.3 Introducing Agamemnon 7m
7.4 Agamemnon Themes 10m
7.5 Ideas of Justice 10m
7.6 Libation Bearers6m
7.7 Intro to the Eumenides 10m
7.8 Measuring Evil 5m
7.9 Historical Background 11m
7.10 Readings of the Oresteia 5m
Reading1 readings
Aeschylus, Agamemnon; Aeschylus, Eumenides10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz 7: The Oresteia40m

8

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Unstable Selves

This week we encounter two famous tragedies, both set at Thebes, that center on questions of guilt and identity: Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Eurpides’ Bacchae. Oedipus is confident that he can escape the unthinkable fate that was foretold by the Delphic oracle; we watch as he eventually realizes the horror of what he has done. With Odysseus, we saw how a great hero can re-build his identity after struggles, while Oedipus shows us how our identities can dissolve before our very eyes. The myth of Oedipus is one of transgressions—intentional and unintentional—and about the limits of human knowledge. In Euripides’ Bacchae, the identity of gods and mortals is under scrutiny. Here, Dionysus, the god of wine and of tragedy, and also madness, appears as a character on stage. Through the dissolution of Pentheus, we see the terrible consequences that can occur when a god’s divinity is not properly acknowledged. Readings: Sophocles, Oedipus Rex; Euripides, Bacchae. Video Lectures: 8.1-8.9. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
Reading
9 videos (Total 78 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video9 videos
8.2 Oedipus and Fate 8m
8.3 Oedipus and Oracles 10m
8.4 The Land and Identity 5m
8.5 Chthonic Identity 10m
8.6 Readings of Oedipus 7m
8.7 Greek and Dionysian Ritual10m
8.8 Bacchae Themes 6m
8.9 Reading The Bacchae 11m
Reading1 readings
Sophocles, Oedipus Rex; Euripides, Bacchae10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz 8: Unstable Selves40m

9

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

The Roman Hero, Remade

Moving ahead several centuries, we jump into a different part of the Mediterranean to let the Romans give us their take on myth. Although many poets tried to rewrite Homer for their own times, no one succeeded quite like Vergil. His epic poem, the Aeneid, chronicles a powerful re-building of a culture that both identifies with and defines itself against previously told myths. In contrast to the scarcity of information about Homer, we know a great deal about Vergil’s life and historical context, allowing us insight into myth-making in action. Readings: Vergil, Aeneid, books 1-5. Video Lectures: 9.1-9.10. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
Reading
10 videos (Total 114 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video10 videos
9.2 Myth, History, and Vergil12m
9.3 Aeneid Opening 10m
9.4 On Reading Vergil 12m
9.5 Landing on an Unknown Shore 9m
9.6 Trojan War Again 9m
9.7 Retelling Tales 12m
9.8 Two Themes 12m
9.9 Dido and Marriage 14m
9.10 Funeral Games for Anchises 8m
Reading2 readings
Aeneid, books 1-510m
Further Readings: Aeneas Before the Aeneid10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz 9: The Roman Hero, Remade40m

10

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Roman Myth and Ovid's Metamorphoses

Our consideration of Vergil’s tale closes with his trip to the underworld in book 6. Next, we turn to a more playful Roman poet, Ovid, whose genius is apparent in nearly every kind of register. Profound, witty, and satiric all at once, Ovid’s powerful re-tellings of many ancient myths became the versions that are most familiar to us today. Finally, through the lens of the Romans and others who "remythologize," we wrap up the course with a retrospective look at myth. Readings: Vergil, Aeneid, book 6; Ovid, Metamorphoses, books 3, 12, and 13. Video Lectures: 10.1-10.9. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
Reading
9 videos (Total 89 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video9 videos
10.2 Themes in the Underworld 12m
10.3 Vergil and the Theories of Myth 11m
10.4 Ovid—Background and Themes 17m
10.5 Re-visiting Thebes 11m
10.6 Trojan War Again 7m
10.7 Battle for the Arms of Achilles 5m
10.8 The Fall of Troy and the Founding of Rome 6m
10.9 Conclusion 2m
Reading1 readings
Vergil, Aeneid, book 6; Ovid, Metamorphoses, books 3, 12, 1310m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz 10: Roman Myth and Ovid's Metamorphoses40m
4.8
Direction Signs

17%

started a new career after completing these courses
Briefcase

83%

got a tangible career benefit from this course

Top Reviews

By PSJul 2nd 2017

Thoroughly enjoyable and instructive introduction to a different world and our historical and present interpretation of its meanings and mysteries. Would recommend to a friend or family member.

By DAApr 13th 2016

This class is very interesting and I love the structure of it. I love how in depth he goes into the different mythological stories and how they connect to Greek culture and daily life.

Instructor

Avatar

Peter Struck

Associate Professor

About University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania (commonly referred to as Penn) is a private university, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. A member of the Ivy League, Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, and considers itself to be the first university in the United States with both undergraduate and graduate studies. ...

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • There are no required texts for the course, however, Professor Struck will make reference to the following texts in the lecture:

    • Greek Tragedies, Volume 1, David Grene and Richmond Lattimore, trans. (Chicago)

    • Greek Tragedies, Volume 3, David Grene and Richmond Lattimore , trans. (Chicago)

    • Hesiod, Theogony and Works and Days, M. L. West, trans. (Oxford)

    • Homeric Hymns, Sarah Ruden, trans. (Hackett)

    • Homer, The Odyssey, Robert Fagles, trans. (Penguin)

    • Virgil, The Aeneid, Robert Fitzgerald, trans. (Vintage)

    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, David Raeburn, trans. (Penguin)

  • • Week 1: Introduction

    Welcome to Greek and Roman Mythology! This first week we’ll introduce the class, paying attention to how the course itself works. We’ll also begin to think about the topic at hand: myth! How can we begin to define "myth"? How does myth work? What have ancient and modern theorists, philosophers, and other thinkers had to say about myth? This week we’ll also begin our foray into Homer’s world, with an eye to how we can best approach epic poetry.

    Readings: No texts this week, but it would be a good idea to get started on next week's reading to get ahead of the game.

    Video Lectures: 1.1-1.7

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 2: Becoming a Hero

    In week 2, we begin our intensive study of myth through Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey. This core text not only gives us an exciting story to appreciate on its own merits but also offers us a kind of laboratory where we can investigate myth using different theoretical approaches. This week we focus on the young Telemachus’ tour as he begins to come of age; we also accompany his father Odysseus as he journeys homeward after the Trojan War. Along the way, we’ll examine questions of heroism, relationships between gods and mortals, family dynamics, and the Homeric values of hospitality and resourcefulness.

    Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 1-8

    Video Lectures: 2.1-2.10

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 3: Adventures Out and Back

    This week we’ll follow the exciting peregrinations of Odysseus, "man of twists and turns," over sea and land. The hero’s journeys abroad and as he re-enters his homeland are fraught with perils. This portion of the Odyssey features unforgettable monsters and exotic witches; we also follow Odysseus into the Underworld, where he meets shades of comrades and relatives. Here we encounter some of the best-known stories to survive from all of ancient myth.

    Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 9-16

    Video Lectures: 3.1-3.10

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 4: Identity and Signs

    As he makes his way closer and closer to re-taking his place on Ithaca and with his family, a disguised Odysseus must use all his resources to regain his kingdom. We’ll see many examples of reunion as Odysseus carefully begins to reveal his identity to various members of his household—his servants, his dog, his son, and finally, his wife Penelope—while also scheming against those who have usurped his place.

    Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 17-24

    Video Lectures: 4.1-4.8

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 5: Gods and Humans

    We will take a close look at the most authoritative story on the origin of the cosmos from Greek antiquity: Hesiod’s Theogony. Hesiod was generally considered the only poet who could rival Homer. The Theogony, or "birth of the gods," tells of an older order of gods, before Zeus, who were driven by powerful passions—and strange appetites! This poem presents the beginning of the world as a time of fierce struggle and violence as the universe begins to take shape, and order, out of chaos.

    Readings: Hesiod, Theogony *(the Works and Days is NOT required for the course)*

    Video Lectures: 5.1-5.9

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 6: Ritual and Religion

    This week’s readings give us a chance to look closely at Greek religion in its various guises. Myth, of course, forms one important aspect of religion, but so does ritual. How ancient myths and rituals interact teaches us a lot about both of these powerful cultural forms. We will read two of the greatest hymns to Olympian deities that tell up-close-and-personal stories about the gods while providing intricate descriptions of the rituals they like us humans to perform.

    Readings: Homeric Hymn to Apollo; Homeric Hymn to Demeter (there are two hymns to each that survive, only the LONGER Hymn to Apollo and the LONGER Hymn to Demeter are required for the course)

    Video Lectures: 6.1-6.7

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 7: Justice

    What counts as a just action, and what counts as an unjust one? Who gets to decide? These are trickier questions than some will have us think. This unit looks at one of the most famously thorny issues of justice in all of the ancient world. In Aeschylus’ Oresteia—the only surviving example of tragedy in its original trilogy form—we hear the story of Agamemnon’s return home after the Trojan War. Unlike Odysseus’ eventual joyful reunion with his wife and children, this hero is betrayed by those he considered closest to him. This family's cycle of revenge, of which this story is but one episode, carries questions of justice and competing loyalties well beyond Agamemnon’s immediate family, eventually ending up on the Athenian Acropolis itself.

    Readings: Aeschylus, Agamemnon; Aeschylus, Eumenides

    Video Lectures: 7.1-7.10

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 8: Unstable Selves

    This week we encounter two famous tragedies, both set at Thebes, that center on questions of guilt and identity: Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Eurpides’ Bacchae. Oedipus is confident that he can escape the unthinkable fate that was foretold by the Delphic oracle; we watch as he eventually realizes the horror of what he has done. With Odysseus, we saw how a great hero can re-build his identity after struggles, while Oedipus shows us how our identities can dissolve before our very eyes. The myth of Oedipus is one of transgressions—intentional and unintentional—and about the limits of human knowledge. In Euripides’ Bacchae, the identity of gods and mortals is under scrutiny. Here, Dionysus, the god of wine and of tragedy, and also madness, appears as a character on stage. Through the dissolution of Pentheus, we see the terrible consequences that can occur when a god’s divinity is not properly acknowledged.

    Readings: Sophocles, Oedipus Rex; Euripides, Bacchae

    Video Lectures: 8.1-8.9

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 9: The Roman Hero, Remade

    Moving ahead several centuries, we jump into a different part of the Mediterranean to let the Romans give us their take on myth. Although many poets tried to rewrite Homer for their own times, no one succeeded quite like Vergil. His epic poem, the Aeneid, chronicles a powerful re-building of a culture that both identifies with and defines itself against previously told myths. In contrast to the scarcity of information about Homer, we know a great deal about Vergil’s life and historical context, allowing us insight into myth-making in action.

    Readings: Vergil, Aeneid, books 1-5

    Video Lectures: 9.1-9.10

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 10: Roman Myth and Ovid's Metamorphoses

    Our consideration of Vergil’s tale closes with his trip to the underworld in book 6. Next, we turn to a more playful Roman poet, Ovid, whose genius is apparent in nearly every kind of register. Profound, witty, and satiric all at once, Ovid’s powerful re-tellings of many ancient myths became the versions that are most familiar to us today. Finally, through the lens of the Romans and others who "remythologize," we wrap up the course with a retrospective look at myth.

    Readings: Vergil, Aeneid, book 6; Ovid, Metamorphoses, books 3, 12, and 13.

    Video Lectures: 10.1-10.9.

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

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