Greek and Roman Mythology

Fall 2008


How you can reach me:
Pam Haskell
Office hours, MWF at 10 am or by appointment, Mood Bridwell 223. Phone, 863-1554.
Email: haskellp at southwestern.

I am a diurnal animal (gets up by day, sleeps at night). If you email me, therefore, at 2 am, don't expect an answer. Most email and voice mail messages are not very thoughtful (in fact, most read like verbal vomit); I prefer the handwritten note. To my way of thinking, it is best to meet face to face no matter what the circumstance. You may always hand me a note at the end of class for a meeting time.

For mythology, many people have found it helpful to have a fourth hour where we just meet and talk about different aspects of the readings (especially the weird, the challenging, or the truly absurd). The times we meet are:  noon Monday on the patio near the Cove (bring a lunch!); Tuesday from 5-6 pm (later than 6 if the people are still in lab) on the porch of Mood-Bridwell. You can always come at those times as well for a very informal session.  We can always review the discussion questions in your textbook--you know, some of them appear on exams!  Just come to one of the hours; not both.  This way we really Texts and Resources:

Stephen Harris and Gloria Platzner, Classical Mythology, Images and Insights, Fifth Edition

Aristophanes, The Frogs (on reserve)

Grene, Euripides I, Alcestis and Hippolytus (on reserve)

Perseus on-line

Let's say Dionysos (a.k.a. Bacchus) is a pretty familiar kind of god for you--especially the wine part.  Like many Greek stories (Herakles, Zeus, and all the great monsters), he seems so approachable, so understandable.  When you start reading some of our stories, you find out he changes shapes, he is the master of cross-dressing, he brings down buildings, his mom gets zapped by lightening so he must be sewn in his dad's thigh, he has amazing sibling rivalry,  and he punishes those who neglect the goat sacrifice.  Women worship him in secret at night, if men come near, they are eliminated.  Women are said to tear kids (both animal and human) apart.  Men dress up in outfits that look like Viagra ads and dance, sing, and write poetry honoring him.  You find him scary, harsh, unpredictable and as you realize he resonantes with ancient Greeks as  powerful, awe-inspiring, and vital,  suddenly the familiar is alien.  You realize that this is not our culture.

In this course, we will examine the myths of the Greeks and Romans, and study their origins, their meaning in their own culture ( through literature and art as well political and social history), their relationship to the East and North Africa in what is really the Greco-Asiatic world, and influence of classical mythology on a select few later cultures, including our own. We will approach our study primarily through Greek and Roman literature and art.  We will start at the beginning of the Greek world and progress through time until the Roman conquest, ending with the literature of the Augustan age.

The basic text book (Harris and Platzner) contains extended quotes from several authors, and also contains useful background material for the literature assignments. The major authors that we will read are Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod, Homer, Homeric Hymns*, Plato*, Vergil, Ovid*, & Lucian*, and from the post-classical period, a few short poems of Byron, Yeats, and Auden will round out the course.

Since classical mythology is understood in artifacts in addition to literature, many class presentations will be accompanied by images of ancient art and some limited examples of post-ancient art. One of the goals of the course is to provide the tools necessary for a student to recognize myths and characters in art. This requires looking at and LEARNING the art in order to recognize which gods are being depicted (often through symbols) and to recognize changes in artistic representation that reflect changes in political and social history of Greece and Rome.

What we call Greek literature back in its own day was not read in isolated silence but was read aloud and very frequently sung and danced.  It was a group activity.  It was intended to be discussed and to be wondered about and even to be awarded prizes.  We continue that great tradition by having discussion classes, which are labeled on the syllabus.  It would be really great if we could dance and sing to the poetry as was done back in the day, but  alas, not in this course.

Enjoy it--it's a great ride through time!

Exams. There will be three exams during the semester (dates given in schedule below). Each exam will include objective questions (for example, provide dates for a person or event), slide identifications (specifically, the myths or characters represented and their importance), and short essays. Please note that make-up exams are the rare exception, not the rule, and are allowed at the discretion of the instructor; such matters must be arranged in advance of the regularly scheduled exam time.  There is NO final exam.

Paper. The paper, 10-15 pages in length, is to be on a work of literature (ancient or post-ancient) that makes extensive use of classical myth (a work that is not otherwise assigned as one of the course readings). You can not, repeat, can not read a work we have or will read in class--that would be unfair to your fellow scholars--do not ask for an exception, as it will not be given. More detailed instructions and advice will be provided later in the semester. The paper must be written using with a word processing program. Deadlines are Sept. 26 for the paper approval (form on segue), Nov. 5 for the rough and Nov. 17 for the final drafts respectively, and are noted in the schedule below. Deadlines are firm, and penalties will be assessed for each day late (one day ends, and another begins, at 5:00 p.m.): rough draft, 5 points per day off final paper grade; final draft, 10 points per day off final paper grade. Your instructor is cold and cruel, and very strict about these matters. PAPERS MUST BE SUBMITTED IN HARD COPY ONLY. ELECTRONIC VERSIONS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Final project. Each student will prepare a final project, due on Friday, December 12 (8:30-11:30, time of the final exam this replaces). This class does not have a final exam, but a final project. The basic point of the project is the following: you take an ancient Greek myth and compare or contrast it to two or three examples of the same myth in post-classical times (including what happened yesterday). The shape of the project is only limited by your imagination--some of you will write an essay; some will prepare a power-point presentation, but others will take a quite different path. You can find a myth, define it briefly, find two artistic representations (painting, sculpture, music) and then present your own version inspired by all three--a painting, a piece of music, or a pot. You can write a short play (or part of one). You must include the ancient myth and two (or three) interpretations of it--and include your sources for this in a bibliography. This project should be undertaken early in the semester and should be a culmination of your efforts and not a last minute, badly prepared power-point. Your instructor has the ability to discern the difference. The final project must be approved in advance to encourage a good outcome, the approval is due on Oct. 20, form on segue.  This final project allows you complete freedom, documented in the bibliography.

Class participation, attendance. The final factor is class participation/attendance. The normal expectation is that students will be at every class, for one cannot participate in absentia! Participation also involves preparation of homework assignments before class. Participation will be assessed not so much on quantity as on quality. Certain classes are designated for the discussion of a literary work and students are expected to read the work before the discussion class in order to have a discussion. Students should feel free to express their own opinions on various matters related to the course and to ask questions. Students' interpretations need not necessarily be the same as those of the instructor. As long as interpretations are based upon reasoned assessments of the evidence (literary, historical, archaeological), they are as valid as the instructor's. One thought that may bear repeating here is that ancient peoples are first and foremost people who took their civic participation, religious obligations, and familial ties as seriously as other civilizations. It is important to view the ideas of these peoples with an un-biased, open mind. We are going to try to figure out together what the ancients thought of their myths. Many pieces of the mosaic are missing and so there is no certainty about the answers. What we avoid is reading the literature and interpreting it as if it is a twenty-first century work, but we try, in so far as possible, to understand it with reference to the ancient world.

This concept has been reinforced through cooperative work of SU students and faculty, which resulted in a provision of the SU Academic Rights for Students. It bears repeating here:

Faculty members should encourage free thought and expression both in the classroom and out. Students are entitled to disagree with interpretation of data or views of a faculty member and reserve judgment in matters of opinion, but this disagreement does not excuse them from learning the content of any course for which they are enrolled or from demonstrating skills and competencies required by a faculty member. Students should be evaluated solely on academic performance.

Southwestern will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Students should register with the Office of Academic Services, on the third floor of Cullen Building. Please be advised that I need to be advised before the accommodation is needed. In that way, I can best serve the person with a documented disability.

Summary of requirements, with percentages: (all submissions due 5 pm on date assigned except for the final project which replaces the final exam and is to be turned in during the time of the final--if you perform your final project, you will turn in the bibliography and such on Dec. 12):

Exam 1 Fri., September 19 15%
Exam 2 Wed., October 29 20%
Exam 3 Fri., December 5 20%
Paper Topic approval Sept. 26 (submit on segue), Rough, Nov. 5 (MoodBridwell 223); final, Nov. 17 by 5 pm, Mood-Bridwell 223
Final Project
Approval Oct. 20, submit on segue; final due  Friday, Dec. 12, 8:30-11:30 a.m., MoodBridwell 223
Class Participation, Attendance All semester 10%

The Daily Ritual

Grading. The grading is that set forth in faculty guidelines. The plus and minus grading system will be used for final grades. Semester % averages will translate to the following letter grades:


Week I

Mon Aug 25 Introduction Look over segue site; all relevant assignments and dates are there.  When you get to the segue site, go to "introduction" tab on the left, then go to "requirements, carved in stone."  These pages have links to relevant stuff.  You are responsible for knowing the dates (it's your grade you want to improve).  The following is pretty self-evident, but all materials assigned for the date are to be read BEFORE CLASS.  Read before class, review after class!

Wed Aug 27
Theory about myth; history; sources

HP p. 15; 22-24; pp. 38-57 following p. 57, **questions 1-3

HP is abbreviation for your textbook;  ** indicates this is what will be discussed.

Fri Aug 29
Minoan Ritual

The Great Goddess

Marinatos, Minoan Religion, 8-12

HP pp. 24-31; the webhandout labled Fri. Aug. 29 is for the next week of classes--do not panic when you see it!!!

**discuss Marinatos' article, which you will read BEFORE CLASS

Virtual Pylos Tour
Mon Sept 1
Labor Day
No class  
Wed Sep 3 Mycenaean Ritual; Linear B

The Great Goddess and a Polytheistic System
remember that the "webhandout" for this and next lecture are all on 29 Aug (that way you really get to see the timeline)

HP 29-31
Fri Sep 5

Mycenaean Ritual; Time of Troubles, Iron Age

HP 31-35; learn dates in the box
Mon. Sept 8

Hesiod; Creation Myths

Ages of Humankind
READ BEFORE CLASS:  HP 61-72; 88-105   (concentrate on these pages, the acutal reading-don't worry about all the different early civilizations) and

Theogony translated by M. L. West

**Discussion, Theogony, both versions

Wed. Sept 10
Creation Myths; Ages of Humankind

Last Day to Add

READ BEFORE CLASS HP Chapter 4, 106-143.

**Discussion, Prometheus Bound

How would YOU, as someone living back in the day, end the tragedy?  In doing so, how would you present Zeus?
Fri. Sept 12


Conflict in the Cosmos and Society
HP pp. 367-387
Mon. Sept 15

Iliad I

Learn Images

(The Iliad to Book 20)
Wed. Sept 17 Iliad I RE-READ BEFORE CLASS, HP 388-435
(The Iliad to Book 20)

***Discussion, Iliad I
Friday September 19

Exam number 1--this is a closed book exam with no notes of any kind allowed.  There will be short identifications, short essays, and two longer essays.  All will be concerned with the reading material in the textbook, the art, and the literature.  Have faith in yourself--if you've studied, nothing will be obscure!!  Review the discussion questions at the end of each textbook chapter.

exam number 1

exam number 1
Mon. Sept. 22 Iliad, part two HP pp. 424-449

**Discussion, Iliad II
Wed. Sept. 24

Don't forget, you always read before class, HP 460- 504

**Discussion, Odyssey
Fri. Sept. 26 Odyssey, part two
HP 505-540

**Discussion, Odyssey

Paper Topic Approval by 5 pm, use segue to submit form

Mon. Sept. 29

The Olympians

Last Day to Drop with Record of No change
HP, pp. 179-221**oops, I had transposed the numbers!

Learn pictures

Wed. Oct. 1
The Great Goddesses
Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Eleusis
HP, pp. 145-178

**Discussion, Homeric Hymn to Demeter
Fri. Oct. 3  No class today.  You all go see the Lysistrata this weekend, playing at SU!  We will be reading the Frogs, and a teensy introduction to Old Comedy may be read through the link on Wed Oct. 22.  You all go cheer your classmates in the play!!!  Recrystalization in action is great!  

Mon. Oct. 6
Apollo, Sanctuary at Delphi

Reconciliation of Opposites with Apollo  the civilized destroying Python the uncivilized  and with Apollo as the communicating voice between immortals and mortals
*** we will begin class with discussion of Homeric Hymn to Demeter
HP pp. 229-255

**Discussion, The Homeric Hymn to Apollo

Wed. Oct. 8
Hades, Lord of Many, and the House of Hades

Hermes, Messenger and Bringer of souls to the Underworld

**Discussion, Homeric Hymn to Hermes, 222-235
HP 292-310

KEEP UP WITH YOUR READING FOR IN TWO WEEKS we have the final project topic due and the second exam; don't forget the optional ask-question-sessions Mon noon outside Cove or 6pm Tuesday MB porch

Fri. Oct. 10
Orpheus and Mystery Cults, the Dherveni Krater

Fall Break Begins at 10 pm
HP pp. 305-310
Mon. Oct. 13
Fall Break
Fall Break  Fall Break
Wed. Oct. 15 Dionysos I HP 266-282; 287-291.  READ THE MATERIAL BEFORE YOU COME TO CLASS!!

**Discussion, Hymn to Dionysos

Fri. Oct.17
Dionysos II HP 542-556

Myth and the Tragic Vision; pay particular attention to the dates on p. 544, fig. 14-1 and
learn the dates of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides!
Mon. Oct. 20 Dionysos III, the Bacchae

Final Project Approval by 5pm, use segue to submit form
Discussion Questions
Alternative translation, Bacchae
**Discussion, The Bacchants
Wed. Oct. 22 Dionysos IV,

Humor and the Gods
Aristophanes, the Frogs (multiple copies on reserve); Frogs (Internet Library, MIT)
You are responsible for reading the Frogs either from one of the many copies on reserve in the library OR from the MIT website--you can get there by linking on Frogs either in blue or in red in this box (or you can purchase a second-hand inexpensive copy).
**Discussion, the Frogs
Fri. Oct. 24 House of Cadmus I
HP pp. 646-659, pp. 665-714.
**Discussion, Sophocles, Oedipus the King
Questions to consider for discussion are on the daily webpage (the one to the left labeled Fri. Oct. 24)
It is self-evident that if you want to discuss Oedipus the King you need to read it first; please read the play in your book.  Whether or not you read the introductory material in the chapter is optional; make sure you can answer the discussion questions on the webhandout and at the end of the chapter.

Mon. Oct. 27 House of Cadmus II

A Crisis in the Household over which laws are to be obeyed, gods' laws or men's laws, reflecting an ethical crisis 
HP 659-751

**Discussion, Sophocles, Antigone
Wed. Oct 29

exam number 2

exam number 2

exam number 2
Fri. Oct. 31 House of Atreus I
HP, pp. 543-607
Oresteia Notes
Seferis, Mycenae
**Discussion, Aeschylus, Agamemnon
Mon. Nov. 3 House of Atreus II

Last Day to Drop
HP 529-604

Wed. Nov. 5

Rough Draft of Paper Due, 5 pm--well, the footnote link seems swallowed up (by the Furies?); use whatever footnote form you like--just place them at the bottom of the page or in order at the end.  See how footnotes are used in some of the articles or books you have consulted.

House of Atreus III
 HP 605-629
**Aeschylus, Eumenides

Fri. Nov.7
House of Atreus IV

Mon. Nov 10
Heroines of Myth
House of Aeolus I
HP chapter 11, pp. 344-364.

Atalanta notes
Wed. Nov. 12 House of Aeolus II

HP, pp. 753-816.
**Discussion, "Medea"
Fri. Nov. 14
Heroes of Myth
House of Danaus I

Learn images, especially the Olympian representation of the labors!

Review the Propp "steps of the hero"

HP 311-343

Mon. Nov. 17

House of Danaus II

FINAL DRAFT OF PAPER DUE, 5 pm, Mood-Bridwell 223. PAPERS MUST BE SUBMITTED IN HARD COPY ONLY. ELECTRONIC VERSIONS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE.  If Bibliography page is missing or is really wrong, 10 points off; if footnotes are not at the bottom of the page OR are not at the end of the paper, 10 points off; if the paper is delivered after 5 pm, 10 points off every day late (a day begins and ends at 5 pm).

Wed. Nov. 19
Theseus Euripides, Hippolytus, multiple copies on reserve OR you can read it online!

reading, Hippolytus

Fri. Nov 21
The Aeneid, Rome's great epic HP 875-950
(through Book 4)

**Discussion  Aeneid
Mon. Nov. 24 Aeneid HP, pp. 950-975

**discussion, The Aeneid

Tues. Nov 25

Thanksgiving Holiday Begins
Holiday Holiday

Mon. Dec. 1

Classes Resume
Classical Influences

We will be considering "recrystallizations"--it should help with your final projects!!
HP, 1031-1037
Wed. Dec.
Course Evaluation
Date for Final Project Performances, if any, the bibliography and attendant materials due on final project due date, Friday, Dec. 12

Review Sesssion
Fri. Dec. 5

Exam #3, emphasis on assignments after exam number two

Exam #3
Exam #3