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Dying Warrior


"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 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.

     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 will also consider the poems in terms of mythography (the writing of myth), narration, and genre boundaries.


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 read epics as socio-cultural artifacts;  and
  • to assess the value of epic to modern audiences.

     Furthermore, students will draw upon universal skills of critical reading and thinking, and will communicate these skills both in class and in written exercises.

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© 2001 Skidmore College Classics Department