What is the course about?
The Iliad is one of the earliest and greatest works claimed by Western literature. An epic poem attributed to Homer and the archaic Greek world, its action centres on a dark episode in the Trojan War, in which the Greek hero Achilles is a key protagonist, along with fellow heroes such as Agamemnon, Hector, Patroclus, Odysseus, Nestor, Priam and Paris, as well as host of immortal deities and supernatural forces. A meditation on war, anger, what it meant to be a man in Homeric times and much more, it is a journey which yields not just a wealth of material about the archaic Greek world and worldview, but which also discusses many universal truths still relevant today.
What will we cover?
Each week we will read and discuss passages from Homer’s Iliad relating to a key theme from the text. These may, for example, include what it meant to be a hero in Homeric times, the role of the natural world in Homer’s depictions of conflict, fate and Olympian ‘interference’ in the mortal affairs, and the historicity of the Trojan War.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Locate Homer’s epic in the context of the archaic Greek world, with a basic knowledge of key developments.
- Contribute to a discussion on the main themes from this text.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory reading group, which will set Homer’s Iliad in the context of the archaic Greek world: it is designed to be accessible and enjoyable to everyone, so little prior knowledge of ancient Greek history is needed. However, it will involve reading sections of Homer’s epic in English translation and discussing them, so a GCSE-level grasp of reading and speaking English is recommended.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
This course will combine tutor presentations, set ‘homework’ and class reading from Homer’s Iliad, discussions, documentary clips and work with related texts and images.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
We will be reading from E.V. + D.C.H. Rieu’s Penguin Classics translation of Homer’s Iliad – please bring a copy to each class. (Published by Penguin Books, ISBN: 978-0-14-0447941 – readily available from public libraries).
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You might enjoy Ancient Greek drama: a reading group in translation (course code RT201), which starts in May 2020; Ancient Greek poetry: a reading group in translation (course code RG001) which starts in July 2020 or The Odyssey reading group in translation (course code RG167) which also starts in July.