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Academics: Classics 231

Classics 231: Classical Mythology

Professor: Jeff Winkle
Office: HH-359
Phone: (616) 526-6813
E-mail: jwinkle@calvin.edu

COURSE TEXTS

Lattimore and Grene.    Greek Tragedies: Vol. 1.                U. of Chicago Press, 1992
Lattimore and Grene.    Greek Tragedies: Vol. 3.                U. of Chicago Press, 1992
Lombardo, Stanley.       Homer: The Odyssey.                     Hackett, 2000.
Sandars, N. K.               The Epic of Gilgamesh.                  Penguin Classics, 1960.
Trazkoma, Stephen.      An Anthology of Classical Myth      Hackett, 2004

COURSE EVALUATION

   Attendance and Participation:                  10%
   Eight Reading Quizzes:                            20%
   Research Paper:                                      20%
   Midterm:                                                   25%
   Final Exam:                                               25% 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

Over the next several weeks we will study and examine (and hopefully be enthralled by) the major myths of the ancient Greeks and to a lesser extent those of ancient Rome and the Middle East as well.  The scope of the semester is perhaps best summed up in a few “large” questions which will guide our study:

  • Did the Greeks actually believe their myths?  Did they understand them literally or metaphorically?
  • What can ancient art and architecture tell us about ancient beliefs?
  • What influence did Greco-Roman myth have on early Christianity?
  • Is myth simply a “pre-scientific” way of looking at the world or does it penetrate more deeply into the human psyche?
  • How does Greco-Roman mythology compare to other belief systems and how does its study help us to better understand and appreciate the humanity of these ancient peoples?
  • What does it mean to say that myths are “timeless”?  How are ancient stories told and retold today? 

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TOPICS COVERED

WEEK 1

Creation Myths

WEEK 2

Introduction to Ancient Greek History and Homer

WEEK 3

Homer’s Odyssey, Athena, Poseidon, Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, Ares

WEEK 4

Homer’s Odyssey, Hades, the Ancient Greek afterlife, Hermes

WEEK 5

Homer’s Odyssey, Artemis, Hephaestus, Apollo

WEEK 6

Homer’s Odyssey, the Legacy of Homer

WEEK 7

FILM: O Brother, Where Art Thou?; The Archaeological Search for Ancient Troy

WEEK 8

Introduction to Greek Tragedy, Aeschylus’ Agamemnon

WEEK 9

Aeschylus’ Eumenides, The Theban Cycle, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King

WEEK 10

Sophocles’ Antigone, Euripides’ Alcestis and Bacchae

WEEK 11

Ancient Mystery Cults (Demeter, Mithras, Cybele, Orpheus, Dionysus)

 

WEEK 12

The Journey of the Ancient Hero, Epic of Gilgamesh

WEEK 13

Perseus and Heracles

WEEK 14

Theseus, Jason, and Aeneas