What is the course about?
The course aims to enhance your understanding of a range of ancient Greek poetry beyond Homer, including didactic, lyric, philosophical and mock-epic.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
Each week we will read and discuss passages in translation from a different Greek poet. We will start with Hesiod’s Works and Days, an archaic didactic poem probably composed around the same time as the Odyssey. We will then look at ancient Greek lyric through the lens of Sappho, the most famous female poet of antiquity (and one of the very few to have survived). We will contrast this with the hexameter fragments of Empedocles, an early philosophical poet who developed a theory of the universe based on the clash between Love and Strife. Finally, we will look at a later mock-heroic epic, The Battle of the Frogs and Mice (Batrachomyomachia). We will relate these works to key themes including the tradition of wisdom literature, early Greek ideas about the universe, the role of women in Greek society, and the nature and purpose of parody.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Locate the poetry we have discussed in the context of the ancient Greek world, with a basic knowledge of key ideas;
- Contribute to a discussion on the main themes from the poetry we have discusse.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory reading group – designed to be accessible and enjoyable for everyone – which will set the poetry we discuss in the context of the ancient Greek world, so little prior knowledge of ancient Greek history is needed. However, it will involve reading sections of Greek poetry in English translation and discussing them, so a good level of written and spoken English is required.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
This course will combine discussions, tutor presentations, and set homework reading of relevant poems. Students should be prepared to engage fully in analysis of the poems and other class activities, and to share their ideas with the group.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
A pen and paper, to make notes. Resources will be provided online, but if you can print them out in advance, so that you can annotate as we go along, that would be very helpful.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Any class involving Greek literature or philosophy in translation. Or why not try beginners’ Greek language?