Skidmore College
Classics 224:  The Hero(ine's) Tale
Course syllabus
Course syllabus
Course timetableOnline resourcesReturn to the CL 224 homepage
Instructor's information
Overview of the course
Objectives of the course
Required texts
Requirements, grading, expectations, and policies
Instructor:  Professor Dan Curley
Office:  208b Harder Hall
Hours:  TTh 12:35-1:30 p.m., and by appointment
Phone:  580-5463
Overview.  "Rage—Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles, murderous, doomed…"  With these words Homer inaugurated a poetic tradition that has survived nearly 3,000 years, a tradition celebrating heroes and heroines, gods and mortals, singers and listeners.  In this course we shall read the works of Homer, Hesiod, Vergil, and Ovid, the poets foremost in the epic canon.  Yet we shall also look to the non-canonical Apollonius and Callimachus, whose poems both reaffirmed and reinvented epic as a vehicle for myth-making.  Our focus throughout the term will be the comparison and contrast of the journeys faced by patriarchal heroes and the matriarchal domains in which heroines reside.  We shall also consider the poems in terms of mythography (the writing of myth), narration, and genre boundaries.
Objectives.  The specific goals for this course are as follows:
  • to understand the content, form, and scope of ancient epic;
  • to view the genre of epic in contrast to other genres;
  • to see how epic addresses historical and cultural concerns; and
  • to assess the value of epic to modern audiences.
  • Furthermore, students will obtain and exercise the following skills:
  • to regard literature critically, with sensitivity and precision;
  • to communicate critical thinking in presentations and essays;
  • to plan, execute, and complete a long-term project; and
  • to engage in and to facilitate group discussions and activities.
  • |
    Texts.  All are required.  Please purchase only these translations.
    Homer (tr. Fagles).      The Iliad.
    Homer (tr. Fagles).      The Odyssey.
    Apollonius (tr. Hunter)      The Argonautica (Jason / Golden Fleece)
    Vergil (tr. Fitzgerald)      The Aeneid.
    Ovid (tr. Humphries)      The Metamorphoses.
    I will hand out packets for Hesiod and Callimachus, as well as supplemental texts.
    Reading quizzes
    Semester project:  Reinventing Homer
    Class participation
    Requirements, Grading, Expectations, and Policies.
    Midterm examination (11 March):  15%
    Final examination (12 May, 1:30 p.m.):  15%
    There are two examinations, a midterm and a final.  The final is essentially a second midterm, although it will have some cumulative aspects.  More information on each test as its date approaches.
    Reading quizzes:  10%
    Unadvertized quizzes will be given as needed to assess how well you are keeping up with the reading.  They will be short but comprehensive.
    Essays (2 March and 20 April, 10% each):  20%
    Two essays are assigned this semester.  You will receive the topics in advance.  These essays are not research papers—a more accurate term is reaction paper, because I am more interested in reading your views and analyses of the poems.  In general, I will hold you to the standards advocated in the Skidmore Classics website document, Writing Essays and Research Papers.  The papers themselves must be at least 5 pages, typed, double-spaced, and free of mechanical and grammatical errors.
    Semester project—Reinventing Homer:  20%
    The theme for the semester project is "Reinventing Homer."  You will produce a work—in the medium of your choice—that echoes and transforms Homeric subject matter or themes.  You may collaborate with other students if you wish.  The project has three phases (due dates listed in the Timetable), with the completed work to be presented at a special session during the last week of classes.
    Class participation:  20%
    Class participation involves more than just attendance.  You must also keep up with the readings and assignments, and participate actively in class discussion.  Furthermore, I expect that you will come to class on time and that you will maintain an environment that promotes the exchange of ideas.  From time to time I shall ask you to prepare short presentations or assignments;  these will count toward the class participation grade.

    In all of my classes I adhere to strict attendance and late work policies. Click here to view them.

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    Last modified 27 April 1999