Classical Myths and Legends

Classical Myths & Legends

This course puts the myths and legends of the Classical world in their wider cultural and historical contexts.

DURATION: 12 weeks
ID: LITC 5306

Disclaimer: The information on this page is provided as an overview. The course outline, readings, and assignments may be subject to change in the final syllabus as determined by the lecturer and/or preceptors.


Larry Swain
Larry Swain
Board Member Faculty Representative; Lecturer; Preceptor
Gabriel Schenk
Gabriel Schenk
Lecturer; Preceptor

This course places the principle Classical myths and legends in their cultural and historical context, with some attention to discussion of subsequent influence. The course focuses on the rich array of theme, genre, imagery, and message of Classical myths and their reception in the classical world. The readings are drawn from the elements of the key myths that inform nearly a millennium of literature, philosophy, and art. The lectures and the topics in this course by nature are grander in scope than is possible to cover fully in a single course. In this course, we will contextualize the myths, point to how they were understood in Classical antiquity, and how they were depicted in Classical art. Most importantly, where possible, connections will be made to later, Germanic myths and legends to illustrate both continuity and influence.

Weekly Schedule

This course includes two live 90-minute lectures per week with one 60-minute discussion session as assigned.

Course Schedule

Week 1

  • Mythography and Comparative Mythography
  • Hesiod’s “Theogony” and other selections

Week 2

  • The Iliad 1-12 (The Judgement of Paris)
  • The Iliad 13-24

Week 3

  • The Odyssey 1-12
  • The Odyssey 13-15

Week 4

  • Mycenaean Cycle
  • Theban Cycle

Week 5

  • Theseus and Athens
  • Perseus

Week 6

  • The Argonauts
  • Select Homeric Hymns

Week 7

  • Pindar and Baccyliades
  • Hymns and Pindar

Week 8

  • Metamorphoses
  • The Returns

Week 9

  • Hercules
  • Homer as Understood in Later Days

Week 10

  • The Aeneid 1-6
  • The Aeneid 7-12

Week 11

  • Foundations of Rome
  • Casting of Kings

Week 12

  • Encounters with the East in Myth
  • Encounters with the West in Myth

Required Texts

The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid translated by Robert Fagles (this specific box-set not required).

Further required and suggested readings will be provided by the course instructors in the final syllabus.


Course History

This Course has been offered in the following semesters.

Classical Myths and Legends
Summer 2021Dr. Larry Swain & Dr. Gabriel Schenk
Spring 2020Dr. Larry Swain & Dr. Maggie Parke

Auditors (Discussion or Premiere level) can register using the link below. New MA or Certificate students should apply to the program. Existing MA and Certificate students should contact their Student Advisor.

Register here