Homeric Epic - CLAS7640

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


Homeric epic forms the foundation of literature in the Western tradition, its study therefore enriches our cultural understanding of both the ancient Greek past and our present. This module explores Homeric epic through the study of the Iliad and/or the Odyssey. Students will be introduced to the key concepts of the world of epic, such as xenia (guest friendship), kleos (reputation), and kudos (glory). They will also learn to recognise, and analyse the meaning of, epic conventions, such as stock epithets, type scenes, and formulaic repetition. These concepts and conventions will enhance the examination of the central themes of the Homeric epic, such as the hero, women, ethnicity, gods, war, peace, poetry, and mortality.


Contact hours

Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 130
Total Study Hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
• Practical Criticism (1,500 words) – 40%
• Essay (2,500 words) – 60%

Reassessment methods
• Reassessment Essay (3,000 words) – 100%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Burgess, Jonathan S. (2015) Homer (London: I.B. Tauris & Co)
Griffin, Jasper (1980) Homer (Oxford: Clarendon Press)
Lloyd, Michael (2004) 'The Politeness of Achilles: Off-Record Conversation Strategies in Homer and the Meaning of 'Kertomia.'' The Journal of Hellenic Studies 124 p75–89
Rutherford, Richard (1996) Homer (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
Schein, Seth (1984) The Mortal Hero: An Introduction to Homer's Iliad (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Show a knowledge and understanding of central concepts in the world of Homeric epic;
2 Critically evaluate Homeric epic and approaches to it (acknowledging the critical implications of the limitations to our knowledge);
3 Understand the opportunities and challenges involved in the use of conventions in Homeric epic;
4 Demonstrate an ability to think critically and communicate about epic as a genre;
5 Identify key debates in academic scholarship on Homeric epic, and be able to take an individual standpoint.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Apply the skills needed for academic study and enquiry through independent study within a structured and managed environment;
2 Select, gather and synthesise relevant information to gain a coherent understanding, be involved in problem-solving, and reach conclusions independently;
3 Extract key elements from complex data, select appropriate methodologies and show awareness of the consequences of the unavailability of evidence;
4 Construct arguments and communicate ideas using the appropriate academic conventions;
5 Demonstrate an ability in problem-solving, taking responsibility for the own learning, use of IT resources, and working on a task collaboratively.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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