CLST 272-001: Heroes and Classical Epics
Fall Semester 2007
How did "epic" conflicts get their name? Is "heroism" just about men
and physical prowess? What makes a leader?
Why did ancient Greeks, for a millennium and more, keep turning back to
Homer's Iliad and Odyssey in order to define who they
were and why it mattered? How did Roman self-fashioning
pick up this tradition, and what form did Vergil give it, for ever
after, in his Aeneid? This Core
Literature course will base itself in close reading and analysis of
cornerstone texts of ancient Western literature, in order to explore
storytelling, mythology, social relations and gender, war,
travel, loss, victory, and human aspiration. Class meetings will
center on collaborative discussion, with some forays into creative performance
of our own.
Our work will pursue three main aims (plus the fourth, of having fun
with all of them):
- To gain familiarity with three monumental epic poems. They were
applauded in their own days as great artistic works. They became
definitional for the genre of epic poetry about heroic action,
throughout the European tradition and beyond it.
- To extend literary understanding by recognizing how techniques of representation
and storytelling shape the three epics - and the ways the epics present
traditional stories about mythological figures in their cultural contexts.
What works for one piece of literature will also apply to others, and to other
forms of discourse, across time.
- To practice critical thinking by exploring the resonances of the three
epics, how the poets and their audiences lived in their world, what they
understood and believed about it and the values they thought important.
Literature, legend, religion, history, and art operate all together, in
Classical antiquity just as they do now. The skills of multidimensional
inquiry and integrative analysis that Classical Studies foster offer value
in every endeavor.
Monday - Wednesday - Friday, 10:25-11:15 AM
Dumbach Hall 235
Dr. Jacqueline Long
MWF 11:30am-12:00noon, Piper Hall 210
TTh 9:45am-10:15am, Crown Center 553
or by appointment
- Homer, Iliad, tr. Robert Fagles (Viking Penguin)
- Homer, Odyssey, tr. Robert Fagles (Viking Penguin)
- Vergil*, Aeneid, tr. Robert Fagles (Penguin Group)
- * also known as "Virgil" - a medieval pun we can
Schedule of Reading Assignments and Topics
Policies and Assessment
Performances and Performance-Papers
Revised 23 July 2007 by