Introduction to Classical Mythology:
We associate “myths” with “made-up stories” that we oppose to the “real truth.”  However, to the people who originated the myths that we read about in Classical Mythology, these stories were believed to have a certain veracity that they considered important for their lives and helped them understand the world in which they lived.  The myths include accounts of how they thought the world was created and charters for religious or social institutions.  In most of these stories, gods or divine powers play a pivotal role.  Sometimes the emphasis is on these divinities: their objectives, conflicts with one another, and failures or successes in accommodating each other’s desires or needs.  Sometimes the focus is on  the men or women who were helped or punished by these divine forces.  But even when the emphasis is on divine agents, the concerns addressed are relevant to mortal audiences who must find ways to deal with the uncertainties and insecurities of life and to find some means of enjoyment.  These accounts were considered so important that they were handed down from generation to generation throughout the millenia with each new generation finding new ways to question and to appreciate the stories told and the issues raised.  These issues continue to perplex us: What good are we in this vast universe?  How can we make sense of ourselves and all those others--persons and things?  How can we make the most of our limited time?  What happens when we and the ones we love--or hate--are no longer here?  These are the kinds of topics that we shall investigate as we question how these myths provide information about the early audiences and how they address concerns pertinent still to us and our contemporaries.

To find out more about the course Classical Mythology, CLST 271, check the following pages:

Course Syllabus
Study Guides
Student Papers: Suggestions and Requirements
Examples of Student Projects

The figures of  TRUPHE and BIOS, 'Luxury' and 'Life,' are found on this fourth century CE Roman mosaic said to have come from Homs (ancient Emesa), Syria, where it had formed part of the pavement of a Roman villa.  This information has graciously been provided by E.A. Knox, Collections Manager, Department of Western Art and Culture, Greek and Roman discipline, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada.