This course explores the myths of ancient Greece and Rome to understand their function for individuals, societies, and nations. The course analyzes different theoretical approaches and concludes with a retrospective look at myth. Students will study texts by Homer and Hesiod and examine Greek religion and ritual.
Are you fascinated by the myths of ancient Greece and Rome and wondering why they have captivated people’s imaginations for centuries? If so, this course is perfect for you! Over the duration of this course, we will explore the nature of myth and its function in society through an in-depth study of the myths of ancient Greece and Rome.
We will begin by examining the meaning of myth and how it has been understood by ancient and modern theorists, philosophers, and other thinkers. We will then delve into the world of Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey, and explore how it offers us a unique laboratory for investigating myth through different theoretical approaches. As we follow the adventures of Odysseus, we will explore questions of heroism, relationships between gods and mortals, family dynamics, and the Homeric values of hospitality and resourcefulness. We will also examine Hesiod’s Theogony, a text that tells the story of the origin of the cosmos from Greek antiquity. Moving on from these core texts, we will explore the intersection of myth and ritual and how they interact to teach us about the cultural forms of ancient Greece and Rome. We will read two of the greatest hymns to Olympian deities that provide us with up-close-and-personal stories about the gods while providing intricate descriptions of the rituals they like humans to perform.
Finally, we will conclude the course by examining the Roman and other perspectives on myth. We will investigate how these later cultures understood and adapted the myths of ancient Greece and Rome to suit their own purposes. By the end of this course, you will have gained a deep understanding of the myths of ancient Greece and Rome and their function in society. You will have explored the many facets of myth, from its universal truths to its cultural blinders and entertaining stories. You will also have gained valuable insight into the worldviews and values of ancient societies and the enduring appeal of their myths. If you are looking for an engaging and thought-provoking course that will broaden your horizons and deepen your understanding of the world around you, this is the course for you!