BA Latin and English Literature / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Aetiology and Euhemerism: Analysing Greek Mythology and Mythography

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE34701
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology & Egyptology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

Mythology and mythography were central to the experience of life in ancient Greek cultures, both constituting and reflecting a changing public imaginary. Mythology as aetiology explained natural phenomena and justified ritual practices, while mythography and euhemeristic revision was used to extend cultural hegemony. Despite the apparent range of surviving material, our knowledge of the Greek mythological corpus is fragmentary and limited, forcing us to rely on hints from discarded lines of papyri or retroject conclusions from the study of other mythological traditions. In this course unit we will examine the stories, the characters and the patterns of this mythological thinking as preserved in literary form, exploring different historical and social contexts, the detail of particular instantiations and the repetition of motifs and themes visible in a diachronic analysis. We will explore the significance of Greek myths by analysing ancient views, including Plato’s use of myth, and assessing modern literary and cultural theories, from Gender-Sensitive analysis, to the views of Psychoanalytic critics and Post-Colonial theorists.

Pre/co-requisites

Pre-requisite units

for those reading the poems only in translation: none;

for those reading some parts of the poems in Greek: (at least) Advanced Greek 1 or equivalent (higher is fine); student must be at L3

 

Co-requisite units

Anti-requisite: this course cannot be combined with CAHE24702 Ancient Greek Mythology.

Those taking this course alongside Advanced Greek are expected to take it as linguists.  If you are in any doubt about which level of the course is appropriate for you, please ask.

 

Aims

To understand the dynamics of Greek mythological and mythographical behaviour. To apply a range of ancient and modern theoretical frames to individual literary instantiations of myth and to the wider corpus. To articulate the uses of myth across a range of historical and social contexts.

Knowledge and understanding

A good understanding of the contexts of Greek mythological and mythographical behaviour.

A good understanding of a range of different theoretical approaches, and their relevance to knowledge of Greek myth.

Intellectual skills

Provide both synchronic and diachronic analysis of myth as presented in literary form.

Use appropriate terminology and apply a range of literary and cultural theories to individual instantiations. Evaluate the benefits and disadvantage of different theoretical approaches to myth.

Evaluating different critical perspectives as part of the modern scholarly debates.

Evaluate the impact of mythological and mythographical habits on our understanding of historical and philosophical developments.

Those taking the linguistic option will in addition be able to translate mythological and mythographical texts from Greek into idiomatic English.

Practical skills

Ability to access relevant primary and secondary material. Ability to navigate online databases such as ‘perseus.com’ and ‘theoi.com’.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

· construct an argument in written and oral form;

· assimilate and summarise large quantities of evidence;

· present the results in a professional manner with appropriate reference to sources and modern published scholarship;

· use e-resources and gain knowledge of research methods and resources;

· manage time and resources;

Employability skills

Other
The course involves a large number of important employment skills, most notably an ability to analyse and examine a large amount of often difficult information, an ability to see both sides of an argument, the ability to synthesise an argument in a cogent form, the ability to retrieve information from complex sources and present it in a compelling and cogent fashion.

Assessment methods

Commentary Plan 0%
Commentary  50%
Essay 50%

 

Feedback methods

  • Written feedback on formative assessment (see above); all coursework feedback is designed to contribute formatively towards improvement in subsequent assignments.
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment).

Recommended reading

Preliminary reading should include:

Set Texts Level 2:

1. Selections from M. Morford, R. Lenardon, M. Sham (edd.) Classical Mythology: International Edition.

(OUP, USA 2014 edition, ISBN: 978-0199997398)

 

Linguists will read a selection of texts in the original Greek. Passages will be provided from texts such as Euripides’ Herakles, Aristophanes’ Birds and Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, Book 4.

 

Indicative background Reading

Primary: Apollodorus, The Library of Greek Mythology.

Secondary:

E. Csapo, Theories of Mythology (Oxford 2005).

T. Gantz, Early Greek Myth (Princeton 1992).

E. Griffiths, Medea  (London 2006).

V. Zajko, M. Leonard (edd.) Laughing with Medusa (Oxford 2008).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Tutorials 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Emma Griffiths Unit coordinator

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