Shakespeare and the Classical World: Timon of Athens, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony & Cleopatra

Course Dates: 30/09/22 - 31/03/23
Time: 10:30 - 12:30
Location: Online
An exploration of four plays in which Shakespeare explores and elaborates themes and characters from the classical world whose spiritual, political and artistic example both fascinated and fuelled the European Renaissance. Beginning with presentations of two of the most celebrated idealist/misanthropes, we proceed to the transformation of Rome from republic to empire in two exemplary dramas whose combination of political dynamism and personal anguish has never been equalled.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £439.00 Senior fee £351.00 Concession £285.00

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Course Code: HLT12

Started Fri, day, 30 Sep - 31 Mar '23

Duration: 22 sessions (over 27 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This online literature course offers the opportunity to consider in great detail four fascinating plays, connected both by their classical context and by their interpenetration of the personal and the political. We shall read and discuss carefully edited texts of each play, so as to achieve a cumulative understanding of Shakespeare’s insight into the relationship between the inner life and the compelling power of the collective.

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.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

In addition to the principal focus outlined above, we shall reflect on the very considerable subtleties and nuances of these remarkable dramatic texts. As well as the delineation and unfolding of character, we shall discuss at length the theatrical and poetical implications of each play, and – as the course unfolds – comparisons between them will become increasingly pertinent and rewarding.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

Demonstrate understanding of the ways in which Shakespeare’s dramatic prosody can provoke profound evaluation of our behaviour and motives.
Discuss specifically and in detail how Shakespeare’s style and technique contribute to the meaning and impact of the plays.
Appreciate the breadth and depth of Shakespeare’s powers of characterisation.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

No particular prior knowledge will be assumed, but you will need to bring an enthusiasm for reading and discussing the plays. You will be willing and able to do some reading and preparation in readiness for each class. You will interested in listening to – and learning from – the responses of other students to the work discussed. You will have a commitment to developing your analytical skills.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Teacher explanation; group reading and discussion. As indicated above, you will gain most from the course if you are prepared to spend a certain amount of time (minimum 30/40 minutes per week) in preparation. Reading parts will be allocated in advance. In addition to tutor recommendations, participants are encouraged to share suggestions for relevant wider reading, videos, musical performances and online lectures.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You will be provided with an edited text of each of the plays to be studied. In addition, you are advised to provide yourself with a well annotated edition of each play. Arden Second and Third Series are usually most helpful and authoritative.
Timon of Athens
Julius Caesar
Antony and Cleopatra.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look up other Drama text and Literature courses under History, Culture and Writing/Literature at

Peter Brennan

Peter Brennan is a poet, and was for many years Head of English at The Latymer School, Edmonton. He founded Visionary Company courses in 2005, and is Editor-in-Chief of Perdika Press.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.