sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles, murderous, doomed…."
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 will read
the works of Homer, Hesiod, Vergil, and Ovid, the poets foremost
in the epic canon. Yet we will also look to the non-canonical
Apollonius and Callimachus, whose poems both reaffirmed and
reinvented epic as a vehicle for myth-making.
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 will also consider the
poems in terms of mythography (the writing of myth), narration,
and genre boundaries.
specific goals for this course are as follows:
understand the content, form, and scope of ancient epic;
view the genre of epic in contrast to other genres;
read epics as socio-cultural artifacts; and
assess the value of epic to modern audiences.
students will draw upon universal skills of critical reading
and thinking, and will communicate these skills both in class
and in written exercises.