Professor Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Office: Thomas 245

Office Phone: 526-5046

Thomas 223

TTh 12:45-2:15

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

Edmunds, Approaches to Greek Myth (Second edition)

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 brief reaction for each of the secondary readings for the week.  Such reactions should consist of a short (under 250 word) summary of the selection, as well as a longer (500-750 word) reaction essay, including points of agreement and disagreement and 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 Moodle 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






Week 2 Mythology Case Study: Oedipus




Greek Reading: Sophocles OT 695-1072



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

Readings: (begin reading Ovid for next week)




Greek ReadingPalaephatus and Apollodorus - selections



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





Latin ReadingOvid, selections


Variants Assignment due before noon, Friday, September 29.



Week 5 Myth and Allegory





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



Week 6 Myth as Primitive Science or History



Greek ReadingDiodorus Siculus, selections


Week 7  - fall break


Week 8 Myth as Primal Religion



Greek Reading:   Porphyry, Cave of the Nymphs


Week 9 Myth and Ritual





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 10.



Week 11 Myth and History 



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


Week 12 Case Study - Pandora and Prometheus



 Greek Reading: Hesiod, Works and Days 1-220



Week 13 Myth and Tradition





Week 14 Presentations of Final Myth Projects


complete draft of final project due before noon, Friday, December 8.



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



Suggested Reading:


Final Project due before the end of finals