Professor Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Office: Thomas 245

Office Phone: 526-5046

Taylor  D   

MW 2:30-4:00

Office Hours: MWF 10-11 

or by appointment


Required Texts:  

Feldman, Burton & Richardson, Robert, The Rise of Modern Mythology 1680-1860

Graf, Fritz,  Greek Mythology

Ovid, Metamorphoses, trans. Melville 

*Trzaskoma, Smith, & Brunet, Anthology of Classical Myth:  Primary Sources in Translation


Recommended Texts:

Brisson, Luc, How Philosophers Saved Myths

Brisson, Luc, Plato the Mythmaker

Calame, Claude, Myth and History

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

Lincoln, Bruce, Theorizing Myth


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 and undergraduate textbooks.  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. Readings in the Anthology of Trzaskoma etal. are marked with an *asterisk.  All readings not in the required course books will be available through the Course Documents on Blackboard.



Written Assignments:  

                  There will be one long final paper for the course on one myth, selected and defined by the student, and its interpretations.  In addition, there will be several short (5-8 pages) written assignments designed for the students to demonstrate their understanding of specific interpretive strategies covered in class.  These projects will require out of class research in addition to the readings assigned for the class.  



Grade Distribution:  

Class Participation                              35%

Written Assignments                       30%

Final Paper                                              35% 



Week 1 Introduction to the Study of Mythology


                       Graf, Introduction

                       Edmunds, Introduction

                       Lincoln, ch.1 & 2



                       Detienne, Creation of Mythology ch. 1-2, 3-5, notes

                       Snell, From Myth to Logic



Week 2 Mythology Case Study: Oedipus 


          *Apollodorus (M Cadmos and Thebes)

          Levi-Strauss, The Structural Study of Myth 

          Propp, Oedipus in the Light of Folklore 

          Freud on Oedipus

          Burnett, Jocasta in the West

          Peradotto, Oedipus and Erichthonius



          Sophocles, Oedipus Rex

          Hamilton, Royal House of Thebes

          Vernant, Oedipus without the Complex  



Week 3 The Collectors - Mythographers and Mythology, Folklore and variants




          *Apollodorus, Library (excerpts)


          Hansen, Ariadne's Thread (Potiphar's Wife/Hippolytus)

          Henrichs, Three Approaches to Greek Mythography



           (begin reading Ovid)

          Gantz, Early Greek Myth, Preface

          Stern, Heraclitus the Paradoxographer



Week 4 Ovid's Metamorphoses of Myths - Myth as plots for literature



          *Antoninus Liberalis 


          Ovid Metamorphoses

          Graf, Myth in Ovid

          Gildenhard & Zissos, Ovid's Narcissus

          Bulfinch, Mythology



Week 5 Myth and Allegory


          *Hesiod, Theogony 




          *Heraclitus, Homeric Allegories 

          *Herodorus, On Heracles, fr. 13, 14, 30, 34

          Laks, Provisional Translation of the Derveni Papyrus

          Graf, ch. 4 & 8

          Brisson, Aristotle and the Beginnings of Allegorical Exegesis 



          Dawson, Pagan Etymology and Allegory 

          Hadot, Ouranos, Kronos, and Zeus (Plotinus 3.5.2,;;;

          Laks, Between Religion and Philosophy


Variants Assignment due



Week 6 Myth as Primitive Science or History


          Cicero, De Natura Deorum 2.49-80

          *Diodorus Siculus (Euhemerus)


          Graf, ch.  1 & 2

          Lincoln, History of Myth (ch. 3)

          Modern Mythology selections:



          K.O. Mller


          Max Mller 



Week 7 Myth as Primal Religion


          Porphyry, Cave of the Nymphs

          Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride

          Modern Mythology selections:





          German Romanticism 

          Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy

          Eliade, Sacred & Profane



Week 8  - spring break



Week 9 Myth and Ritual 


          *Pausanias (excerpts)

          Graf, ch. 5

          Frazer, Golden Bough

          Gaster, Thespis

          Harrison, Themis

          Fontenrose, Ritual Theory of Myth

          Versnel, What is Sauce for the Goose (part 1) (part 2)

          Dowden, Myth and Religion



          Faraone, Playing the Bear





Week 10 Myth and Psychology 


          Freud, Totem and Taboo

          Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces

          Jung, The Psychology of the Child Archetype

          Kerenyi, Prolegomena

          Caldwell, Psychoanalytic Interpretation of Greek Myth

          Olympiodorus on Plato's Gorgias 44-50

          Jackson, Late Platonist Poetics 



          Doty, Cosmological Human Body

          Doty, Psychological Approaches


Interpreter Assignment due



Week 11 Myth and History 



          *Herodotus (excerpts) 

          Cyrene selections 

          Calame, Narrating the foundation of a city (part 1) (part 2)

          Sourvinou-Inwood, Reading a myth, reconstructing its constructions

          Graf, ch. 3 & 6 



Week 12 Case Study - Pandora and Prometheus


          Hesiod, Theogony and Works & Days

          Vernant, At Man's Table (part 1) (part 2)

          Zeitlin, Signifying Difference:  The Case of Hesiod's Pandora

          *Plato, Protagoras

          Plotinus Ennead 4.3

          Olympiodorus on Plato's Gorgias 48.6  

          Zosimus of Panopolis on the Letter Omega

          Hawthorne, The Wonder Book



Week 13  Myth and Tradition


          Tolkien, On Fairy Stories (part 1) (part 2)

          Plato, Statesman

          Plato, Timaeus/Critias

          Vidal-Naquet, Athens and Atlantis

          Brisson, Plato the Mythmaker (ch. 1-4)

          Segal, Greek myth as a semiotic and structural system



          Burkert, The Logic of Cosmogony

          Brisson, Plato the Mythmaker (ch. 5-7)



Week 14 Presentations & teaching mythology




          Morford & Lenardon

          Trzaskoma etal.


complete draft of final project due



Week 15 – Conclusions: myth and scandal, myth and interpretation, myth and ideology 


          Detienne, Creation of Mythology (ch. 6-7)

          Barthes, Myth Today 

          Lincoln, Epilogue

          Most, From Logos to Mythos 

          Calame, The Rhetoric of Muthos and Logos


Final Project due before the end of finals