Classical Myths and Legends

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.


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

  • Approaching Myth

Week 2

  • Hesiod’s “Theogony” and other selections

Week 3

  • Homeric Hymns

Week 4

  • The Iliad 1-16

Week 5

  • The Iliad 17-24
  • The Odyssey 1-8

Week 6

  • The Odyssey 9-24

Week 7

  • The Aeneid 1-12

Week 8

  • The Oresteia

Week 9

  • Electra Plays
  • Theban Cycle 1

Week 10

  • Theban Cycle 2

Week 11

  • Janus and Fire Deities
  • Romulus and the Rape of the Sabine Woman

Week 12

  • History and Myth
  • Myth in the Roman Empire

Required Texts

The Amazon links are provided for convenience only, and we encourage students to purchase texts wherever they wish.

Course History

This course has been offered in the following semesters.

Spring 2024Dr. Larry Swain & Dr. Gabriel Schenk
Summer 2021Dr. Gabriel Schenk & Dr. Larry Swain
Spring 2020Dr. Larry Swain & Dr. Maggie Parke
Classical Myths & Legends

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

START: January 8, 2024

DURATION: 12 Weeks

ID: LITC 5306