|Classical Mythology, CLST 271
This course, which provides credit as core literature, will study the use of myth in literature by selected Greek and Latin authors from the eighth century B.C.E. until the first C.E. Myths are stories which encode a society's values, hopes, and fears. They describe how people thought the universe was created, how men and women came into being and suffered or benefitted from the intervention of powers personified as gods. They explain the significance of social and religious institutions and reasons for the existing social hierarchies. They dramatize the conflict individuals experience between what they want and are told they have to accept, between what they think is true or good and what others believe is right. They elucidate the power of the human imagination and of love even in the most adverse circumstances, as in the face of failure, death, or oblivion, These stories were considered important enough to be handed down from generation to generation through the millenia. They were a major source of entertainment for a people without the technology we now enjoy, but like our media, they were both influenced by and exerted influence on the societies in which they existed.
We shall examine how the authors make the characters stand out as unique individuals and how these characters react to and are affected by the communities in which they live. The mythic accounts are constructs affected by the literary conventions appropriate to the form in which the myths were presented, by political and social context, and by personal idiosyncracy. Keep in mind, furthermore, that while our texts describe the lives of people who lived thousands of years before us, we view these texts with minds affected by our society's concerns and our own idiosyncracies. Nonetheless we shall try to find out how these stories can relate to our own lives and help us develop a better understanding of ourselves and the world in which we live.
Note: Pay special attention to highlighted word. They are link that lead to study guides.
January 14: Definition of Mythology; Theories about myths and literature (epics and orality); Background on the Bronze Age (3,000-l,000 B.C.E.); Introduction to Hesiod's Theogony about "The Gods' Origins'; The Muses, Zeus, and a poet's mission and credentials; life during the Archaic Period (800-500 B.C.E.):Shepherds, Kings, Singers (Caldwell [C] l - 33).
January 21: Creation and Conflict; The first evil, retribution, and justice; Primal Families in the universe; Monsters and Mortal Heroes: Perseus, Bellerophon, and Herakles (C34-56)January 28: Zeus ascends to power, averts threats, consolidates his rule; he honors allies and children (C 56 - 85); his contest with Prometheus involves tricks and gifts: sacrificial offerings, fire, and woman; Cosmological and religious hierarchies; Sexual politics.
February 4: Comparison with near Eastern texts (C 21-26) and other accounts of creation H 1-16); Test on Theogony
February 11: The Gifts of the gods and their Passions: Demeter and her daughter Persephone, Marriage, and the Eleusinian Rituals: Rape, Fear, and Rage; Deceit and Persuasion; Fertility, Initiation, Reconciliation, and Eternal Happiness (Shelmerdine [S] l-10; 29-58): See also essays in Foley's Homeric Hymn to Demeter.
February 25: Hermes' Luck, Tricks and Gifts: Honor, Threats, and Friendship Forever (S 91-122). Dionysos' Blessings and Curses; Innocence, Illusion, and Incarnation (S 27-28; 141-44) Film?
March 4: NO CLASS
March 11: Test on Homeric Hymns to Demeter, Apollo, Hermes, and Dionysos; Introduction to Classical Period, 500-323 B.C.E..
March 18: Introduction to Ancient Greek athletics Lyric Poetry (handouts). Film. Pindar's epinician for athletic victors; comparisons with the legendary heroes; divine interventions.
March 25: Introduction to Classical Tragedy; Play to be chosen for study.
April 01: Introduction to Classical Comedy, Aristophanes' Peace.
April 08: Test on Greek Heroes? Introduction to Roman society and Ovid's Metamorphoses (c.14 CE.): Creation and cosmology; Crime and punishment; Love and Suffering; Human Nature, selections from Books 1 and 2. Identify subject ofterm paper/project.
April 15: Selections from Ovid on creative talent and its consequences. Hand in term paper/project
April 22: Selections from Ovid on different kinds of heroes and avengers; Selections from Ovid on the different kinds of love.
.April 29: Reading Day; Review?
May 06: Final Examon literature read since last test. 6:00-8:30 P.M.
Grading: Mid-term and final grades will be determined from the accumulation of points obtained from tests, a formal paper (5-7 typed pages on a subject of your choice but centered on the literature read this semester) or a project with shorter paper numerous short oral or written assigments for group discussions
Consultation: I shall be available for consultation before class at Water Tower on Monday from about 5:00 P.M. in our classroom LT 912 or in my office, LT 315 A; phone 312-915-6527. On the Lake Shore campus I can meet in my office, Crown Center 551, on MWF from about 10:00-11:15; 12:30-1:00 P.M.; Other times are available by appointment. My LSC office phone number is 773-508-3657. The secretary has her office in Crown 575; you may leave a message with her or on her phone, 773-508-3650. My home number is 847-251-0769; please call before l0:00 P.M. E-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.