What is the course about?
The Odyssey is one of the earliest and greatest works of Western literature. An epic poem attributed to Homer and
the archaic Greek world and, in part, a sequel to the Iliad’s tale of Greek involvement in the Trojan War, it mainly
centers on the Greek hero Odysseus and his journey home after the fall of Troy. It takes Odysseus ten years to
reach his destination, during which time he is believed to have died, which leaves his wife, home and family prey to
predatory aristocratic suitors. Odysseus’ travels involve the pervasive intervention of both gods and men, taking him
to far-flung societies and adventures. 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, such as what
makes a hero, and the importance of home and family relationship.
What will we cover?
Each week we will read and discuss passages from Homer’s Odyssey relating to a key theme from the text. These
may, for example, include archaic Greek perceptions of other people’s and cultures, the nature of ‘heroic’ elite ancient Greek society and the role of women in the text.
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 his text.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory reading group, which will set Homer’s Odyssey 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’ reading from Homer’s Odyssey, discussions, quizzes 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 Odyssey – please bring a copy to each class (published by Penguin Books, ISBN: 978-0-14-044911-2).
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Why not try "RA397: Art, sculpture and architecture of the classical world: an introduction", which will start in the autumn, also taught by Deborah Hyde.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details