Professor Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Office: Thomas 245

Office Phone: 526-5046

Carpenter 13

MW 2:30-4:00

Office Hours: MWF 9-10 

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 Moodle.



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.  Graduate students will be expected to make use of primary sources in the original languages and to cover a wider range of secondary sources.


Primary Source Translation:

            A selection of the primary sources each week will be posted on Blackboard in the original languages.  Graduate students will have an additional session scheduled to work through these readings from the primary sources. 


Grade Distribution:  

Class Participation                   35%

Written Assignments               30%

Final Paper                              35% 



Week 1 Introduction to the Study of Mythology


               Graf, Introduction

               Edmunds, Lowell, "Introduction: The Practice of Greek Mythology"

               Lincoln, Bruce, Theorizing Myth: Narrative, Ideology, and Scholarship, ch. 1 & 2



               Detienne, Creation of Mythology

               Snell, From Myth to Logic


Week 2 Mythology Case Study: Oedipus 


      *Apollodorus (M Cadmos and Thebes)

      Burnett, Jocasta in the West

      Cox, George, Oidipous in Mythology of the Aryan Nations

      Freud on Oedipus

      Levi-Strauss, The Structural Study of Myth 

      Peradotto, Oedipus and Erichthonius

      Propp, Oedipus in the Light of Folklore 



      Sophocles, Oedipus Rex

      Hamilton, Royal House of Thebes

      Vernant, Oedipus without the Complex 


 Greek Reading:  Sophocles OT 695-1072




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

Readings: (begin reading Ovid for next week)



      *Apollodorus, Library (excerpts)



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

      Henrichs, Three Approaches to Greek Mythography



      Gantz, Early Greek Myth, Preface

      Stern, Heraclitus the Paradoxographer

      Stern, Parthenius: Erotika Pathemata


Greek Reading: Palaephatus and Apollodorus - selections



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




 Latin Reading:  Ovid, selections


Variants Assignment due before noon, Friday, September 27.



Week 5 Myth and Allegory


      *Hesiod, Theogony 


      *Heraclitus, Homeric Allegories 

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




      Brisson, Aristotle and the Beginnings of Allegorical Exegesis 

      Conti, Mythologiae (Book I.1-7, Book X)

      Graf, ch. 4 & 8

      Laks, Provisional Translation of the Derveni Papyrus



      Dawson, Pagan Etymology and Allegory

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

      Laks, Between Religion and Philosophy

      Fulgentius, Mythologies


Greek Reading: Olympiodorus on Plato's Gorgias 47.3-4; Cornutus 7, 17, 35; Heraclitus 1, 21-25



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

      Lincoln, History of Myth, ch. 7

      Modern Mythology selections:



      K.O. Mller


      Max Mller 


Greek Reading:  Diodorus Siculus, selections


Week 7  - fall break



Week 8 Myth as Primal Religion


      Porphyry, Cave of the Nymphs

      Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris

      Modern Mythology selections:





      German Romanticism 

      Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy

      Eliade, Sacred & Profane


Greek Reading:   Porphyry, Cave of the Nymphs



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

      Dowden, Myth and Religion



      Faraone, Playing the Bear

      Calame, Narrative and Poetic Creations


Greek Reading:   Homeric Hymn to Apollo (& commentary)



Week 10 Myth and Psychology 





Greek Reading: Olympiodorus on Plato's Gorgias 44, 46


Interpreter Assignment due before noon, Friday, November 7.


Week 11 Myth and History 



      *Herodotus (excerpts) 

      Cyrene selections

      Calame, Narrating the foundation of a city

      Sourvinou-Inwood, Reading a myth, reconstructing its constructions

      Graf, ch. 3 & 6 


Greek  Reading: Herodotus IV.144-159; Pindar, Pythian IX



Week 12 Case Study - Pandora and Prometheus


      Hesiod, Theogony and Works & Days

      Vernant, At Man's Table

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

      Hansen, Packaging Greek Mythology

      *Plato, Protagoras

      Plotinus Ennead 4.3

      Olympiodorus on Plato's Gorgias 48.6  

      Zosimus of Panopolis on the Letter Omega

      Hawthorne, The Paradise of Children (Wonder Book)

      Max & Rubys Pandora


 Greek Reading: Hesiod, Works and Days 1-220



Week 13 Myth and Tradition


      Tolkien, On Fairy Stories

      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)


Greek Reading:   Plato's Critias



Week 14 Presentations of Final Myth Projects


complete draft of final project due before noon, Friday, December 6.



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


      Barthes, Myth Today

      Lincoln, Theorizing Myth (Epilogue)

      Most, From Logos to Mythos

      Calame, The Rhetoric of Muthos and Logos


Suggested Reading:

      Detienne, Creation of Mythology


Final Project due before the end of finals