OverviewThis module offers students a wide-ranging grounding in classical literature as a basis for the further study of Western literature within a comparative framework. Major works of ancient Greek and Roman literature are studied in order to enable students to appreciate the literary engagement with the following in the classical world: myth (including the stories of the Trojan War, Oedipus, Jason and Medea, and the founding of Rome); the relationship between human beings and the gods, between the sexes, and between the human and the animal; and the journey motif. Themes explored included sexuality, violence, conceptions of justice, metamorphosis, and madness. The module introduces students to some of the major genres of Western literature (tragedy, comedy, the epic), and considers how these were theorized by Aristotle. It also encourages students to reflect on questions of cultural transmission, and on why the myths represented in classical literature should have proved to be such a rich source for the literature of the West.
This module appears in:
Total Contact Hours: 20
Method of assessment
Presentation (20 minutes) – 20%
Essay (2,500 words) – 80%
Apollonius of Rhodes, The Voyage of the Argo/Jason and the Golden Fleece
Catullus, Selected Poems
Euripides, The Bacchae
Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey (extracts)
Ovid, Metamorphoses (extracts)
Sophocles, Oedipus the King and Antigone
Virgil, The Aeneid (extracts)
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- To achieve an overview of ancient Greek and Roman literature, with particular emphasis on its recurring thematic preoccupations and its cultural context;
- To acquire familiarity with some of the major classical myths and mythical figures, and their significance (including the Trojan War; Odyssey's return from Troy; Prometheus; Oedipus; Jason and Medea; Aeneas and the founding of Rome).
- To develop a sense of the origins of some of the major genres in Western literature, including tragedy, comedy, and the epic, and how these were theorized by Aristotle in the light of Greek literature.
- To be able to engage critically with classical literature through close readings of works in different genres (poetry, drama, narrative);
- To develop a sense of key motifs in classical literature that prove important for Western literature thereafter;
- To appreciate the similarities and differences between ancient Greek and Roman literature, and to develop a sense of cultural transmission.