Professor Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Office: Thomas 245

Office Phone: 526-5046

Taylor D

TTh 2:30-4:00

Office Hours: T 1-2, F 1-3

or by appointment

Required Texts:

Apollodorus, The Library (trans. Frazer)

Detienne, Marcel, The Creation of Mythology

Dowden, Ken, The Uses of Greek Mythology

Gantz, Timothy, Early Greek Myth (2 vols.)

Graf, Fritz, Greek Mythology

Hesiod, Theogony and Works & Days, trans. Lombardo

Nietzsche, Friedrich, Birth of Tragedy

Ovid, Metamorphoses, trans. Melville

Palaephatus, On Unbelievable Tales, trans. Stern

Course Description:

The myths of the Greeks have provoked outrage and fascination, interpretation and retelling, censorship and elaboration, beginning with the Greeks themselves. We will see how some of these stories have been read and understood, recounted and revised, in various cultures and eras, from ancient tellings to modern movies. We will also explore some of the interpretive theories by which these tales have been understood, from ancient allegory to modern structural and semiotic theories.

The student should gain a more profound understanding of the meaning of these myths to the Greeks themselves, of the cultural context in which they were formulated. At the same time, this course should provide the student with some familiarity with the range of interpretations and strategies of understanding that people of various cultures and times have applied to the Greek myths during the more than two millennia in which they have been preserved.

Course Requirements:

Class participation:

Each week's assignment will include both the primary ancient texts and some secondary interpretations. Each student should come prepared with two or three questions or ideas regarding the ancient texts for the day. In addition, one student will be assigned to write and present a one page reaction for each of the secondary readings for the week. Such reactions should consist, not of a summary of the selection, but rather of points of agreement and disagreement and of questions for further discussion.

The readings not in the required textbooks will be available on electronic reserves. Electronic reserves are accessible from the library's reserve site (

Written Assignments:

There will be one long (10-12 pages) final paper for the course on one myth, selected and defined by the student, and its interpretations. In addition, there will be several short (4-6 pages) written assignments designed for the students to demonstrate their understanding of specific interpretive strategies covered in class. These projects may require some out of class research in addition to the readings assigned for the class.

Grade Distribution:


Week 1 Introduction to the Study of Mythology



Week 2 Mythology Case Study: Oedipus I



Week 3 Mythology Case Study: Oedipus II



Week 4 The Collectors - Mythographers and Mythology



Week 5 Ovid's Metamorphoses of Myths


Variants Assignment due


Week 6 Modern Mythology - Enlightenment and Romanticism



Week 7 Myth and Ritual



Week 8 - spring break


Week 9 Myth and Psychology


Interpreter Assignment due


Week 10 Myth and Paradise Lost



Week 11 Myth and Philosophy: The Logos of Mythoi



Week 12 Myth and Society



Week 13 Myth and History



Week 14 Case Study: Theseus & Heracles



Week 15 Conclusions: myth and scandal, myth and interpretation, mythology


Final Project due