Coordinator, Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Professor of Ancient Scripture
Offices: 2015 HRCB (Kennedy Center); 365-F JSB
Phone: 801-422-3359
Twitter: @EricDHuntsman

Classical Civilization 241
Greek and Roman Mythology

Course Description

Fall 2007 Syllabus

Course Objectives: ClCv 241 is designed to complete an Arts and Letters G.E. requirement while providing the student with a solid introductory grounding in the ancient Greek and Roman Classics through the lens provided by Classical mythology. Greek and Roman myths tell us much about how the ancients viewed and understood their world, and they provide insights into the cultures that serve as the basis of much of Western Civilization. Hopefully gaining an appreciation of the Classical world-view can provide insight into modern perceptions of society, science, and religion.

Course Objectives: This class is a fairly intensive reading course that will examine mythology as it is presented by the literature of the period. We will read in translation a variety of Classical texts including religious hymns, tragedies, and epics to see firsthand how the Greeks and Romans viewed and used their myths. When possible we will read two or more versions of the same story from different periods in order to discover how different authors employed certain myths to meet their own needs. This course, however, will do more than simply review the varied accounts of gods and goddesses, heroes and adventures. The primary texts will be supplemented by class lectures and discussions and by selected readings from the pertinent secondary literature.

We will concern ourselves with mythology itself —the study of these stories in their historic and cultural contexts. We will try to understand the purpose of myths, how and why they were told, and their impact upon their ancient and modern audiences. To achieve this we will approach each myth in terms of the following issues:

1. Context: Most literature cannot be properly understood when separated from its historical and cultural setting. A basic grasp of the history surrounding each work allows the reader to understand how contemporary religious beliefs, cultural developments, politics, and intellectual currents affected the portrayal of each myth.

2. Literary Artistry: Each genre of literature has certain conventions that affected how ancient authors employed mythological motifs. This issue becomes especially important as traditional beliefs waned since authors could then exercise considerable "poetic license." As writers increasingly manipulated myths in order to create great literature, we will try to appreciate their literary craftsmanship.

3. Theoretical Analysis: Mythology is of continued interest because it represents the attempt to understand the human condition. The issues that faced the ancient Greeks and Romans are the same ones that confront us today. These include questions regarding cosmology, theology, anthropology, sociology, and gender.

Lecture Outlines and Presentations


First references to readings are generally to chapter, section, and line numbers so that students can find assignments in other editions. Page references in versions ordered for the class are in parentheses.


  • Introduction
  • Topics: Review of course standards and objectives. Initial discussion: What is Myth? Cultures, religions, and Alma 29:8.
  • Reading: After class review "What is Myth?" in Packet, 5–7.
  • Context and Origins of Classical Mythology
  • Topics: Bronze Age cultures and religion. The Dark Ages and Oral Tradition. The Archaic Greek Renaissance.
  • Reading: After class read “Overview of Early Greek History, Religion, and Poetry” and the summaries of Minoan and Mycenaean civilization, “Dark Ages” of Greece, and Archaic Greece in Packet, 27. Additional background can be found in Morford and Lenardon, 15–23 (reserve).
  • Sources for Mythology
  • Topics: The importance of Historical and Cultural Context. Periodization: Classical Greece, Hellenistic World, Rome. Literary Genres and artistic license.
  • Reading: Introduction to Apollodorus, Gods & Heroes of the Greeks,1–7; Morford and Lenardon, 23–27 (reserve) See also: Dowden, 39–53 and Grant, 18–43 (both on reserve).
  • Nature and Purpose of Myth
  • Topics: Origins, functions, and significance of myths. Cosmology, Theology, Anthropology, Gender, Sociology, Psychology, Soteriology, and Patriotic Saga.
  • Reading: After class read "Some Different Origins and Uses of Myth," Packet, 8–9; Morford and read through G.S. Kirk, "Five Monolithic Theories" in The Nature of Greek Myths, Packet, 10–26. Additional background can be found in K. Dowden, The Uses of Greek Mythology, chs. 1, 2, 7 and Morford and Lenardon, 1–15 (reserve).
  • Unit I: The World and the Gods

  • Mythical Beginnings
  • Topics: Cosmology—the origin and nature of the universe. The Greeks, the universe, and the stars–astronomy and myth. Didactic poetry and the birth of the gods. Generative creation and succession myths. Hesiod’s Theogony. Titanomachy.
  • Reading: Caldwell’s introduction, 1–26; Hes. Theog. 1–506, 617–735 (Caldwell, 27–57, 64–69); [Apollod.] Bibl. 1.1–2 (Simpson, 13–14); Ovid, Met. 1.1–75 (Penguin, 5–8).
  • Prometheus and Man
  • Topics: Anthropology and human origins. Prometheus, Creator or Benefactor? Prometheus verses Zeus. Introduction to Greek Tragedy and Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound.
  • Reading: Hes. Theog. 507–64 (Caldwell, 57–60); [Apollod.] Bibl. 1.7 (Simpson, 32); Ovid Met. 1.76–88 (Penguin, 8–9); Genesis 1–2:17; "The Development of Tragedy," (packet); Aesch. Prometheus Bound (Grene and Lattimore I, 62–63).
  • Fate of Prometheus; Woman and Man
    • Topics: Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound. Woman a Punishment? The Pandora Story and the Ages of Man
    • Reading: Aesch. Prometheus Bound (Grene and Lattimore I, 64–106); Hes. Theog. 565–616 and Works and Days, 1–105 (Caldwell, 61–63, 105–108); Genesis 2:18–3:24.
  • Zeus, Father of Gods and Men
  • Topics: The Typhoeus Story: Proving the superiority of Zeus. Theology—Zeus’ role and character. The family of Zeus. Two contrasting siblings, Athena and Ares.
  • Reading: Hes. Theog. 820–1022 (Caldwell, 72–85); [Apollod.] Bibl. 1.3–4, 6.3 (Simpson, 14–18, 19–20); Review summaries of Zeus, Athena, and Ares, as well as genealogies, Packet, 36–37, 40–41, and 45.
  • Hera, Hephaistos, Hestia, and Poseidon; Nature of Greek Gods
  • Topics: Contrasting sisters, Hera and Hestia. Poseidon, a "faded Zeus?" Theology: Animism, anthropomorphism, and "humanism." Polytheism, henotheism, and monotheism.
  • Reading: Summaries of Hera, Poseidon, Hestia, and Hephaistos, Packet, 37–38, 40, and 45; Hom. Hymn 12, 24, 29 (Athanassakis, 59, 64, 67); Morford and Lenardon, 85–90, 98–104 (reserve).
  • Topics: Theology—Sky verses Underworld deities. "Where are we going?" Views of the Afterlife. Death and Euripides’ Alcestis. Introduction to mystery religions.
  • Reading: Summary of Hades, Packet, 39; Hes. Theog. 736–819 (Caldwell, 69–72); Alma 40:6–26; D&C 76:28–112, 84:19–24; Eur. Alcestis (Grene and Lattimore III, 264–313). See also: Morford and Lenardon, 250–72 (reserve).
  • Topics: Aetiology (in the broad sense) and nature myths in the Persephone story. Gender: Tension between Indo-European sky gods and Mediterranean mother goddesses. The Eleusinian Mysteries.
  • Reading: Summary of Demeter, Packet, 39–40; Hom. Hymn 2 (Athanassakis, 1–15); Ovid, Met. 5.332–678 (Penguin, 190–207); excerpts from M. Arthur, "Politics and Pomegranates: An Interpretation of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter," Packet, 66–81. See also: The Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Translation, Commentary, and Interpretive Essays, Helene P. Foley, ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994).
  • Review 1a

    Take-home Quiz #1 distributed


  • Apollo the Aristocrat
  • Topics: Aetiology and religious ritual myths—Pytho and Delphi. Apollo and the Greek ideal.
  • Reading: Summary of Apollo, Packet, 18–19; Hom. Hymn 3 (Athanassakis, 15–30); Ovid Met. 1.415–50 (Penguin, 26–27).

  • Hermes
  • Topics: The many roles of Hermes; Sociology—stress between agricultural aristocracy and the urban merchant economy.
  • Reading: Summary of Hermes, Packet, 21; Hom. Hymn 4 (Athanassakis, 31–46); N.O. Brown, "The Homeric Hymn to Hermes," Packet, 82–100.
  • Take-home Quiz #1 due
  • Aphrodite and the Primal Power of Love
    • Topics: The concept of Eros. Aphrodite Urania and Aphrodite Pandemos. Loves of Aphrodite: Adonis and Anchises.
    • Reading: Summary of Aphrodite, Packet, 43–44; Review Hes. Theog. 116–122, 173–206 (Caldwell, 33–34, 38–40); Hom. Hymn 5–6 (Athanassakis, 47–56); Ovid, Met. 10.503–739 (Penguin, 393–419). See also: Morford and Lenardon, 116–40 (reserve).


  • Excesses and Deficiencies of Love
    • Topics: Psychology—romantic, erotic, and pathological love. Role of the virgin goddesses. Artemis and her devotées. Euripides’ Hippolytus.
    • Reading: Summary of Artemis, Packet, 43; Eur. Hippolytus (Grene and Lattimore I, 235–95).

  • Dionysos and Liminality
    • Topics: Dionysos, God of agriculture or of sensual abandon? The tension between control and incontinence in individuals and in society. Psychology: Euripides and when things go awry.
    • Reading: Summary of Dionysos, Packet,45–46; Hom. Hymn 7 (Athanassakis, 56–57); Eur. Bacch. (Grene and Lattimore III, 192–260); A. Henrichs, "Greek and Roman Glimpses of Dionysos," Packet, 101–111.


  • Early History and Decline of Man
    • Topics: Gold to Iron, the devolution of Man. The Deucalion Story, etc.
    • Reading: Hes. Works and Days, 106–201 (Caldwell, 108–110); [Apollod.] Bibl. 1.7.2–10 (Simpson, 32–34); Ovid Met. 1.89–437 (Penguin, 9–27); Genesis 4–10.
  • Review 1b for Exam 1



    Unit II: Heroes and the Mythological World

  • Topics: Role Models? Greek Hero Cult. Hero Myths—Composites: Legends, Culture Heroes, Saviors, and Folktale. Types of Greek Heroes, Both Legendary and Historic. Geographic Sagas (Attic, Theban, Argive, Trojan, Mycenaean). Path of the Hero: Separation, Initiation, Return. The Ultimate Hero
  • Reading: J. Campbell, "The Hero and the God" and "The Keys," in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, 30–40, 245–51 (reserve).

  • Herakles, Heroic Prototype
  • Topics: A man of extremes: the example of Herakles. Herakles’ Madness. Ten (or Twelve) Labors. Other Labors. Role in the Gigantomachy. Herakles’ apotheosis.
  • Reading: [Apollod.] Bibl. 1.6.1–1.6.2, 2.4.8–2.8.5 (Simpson, 18–19, 91–108); Ovid, Met. 9.1–322 (Penguin, 203–211); Burn, 16–24. See also Soph. Trach., Eur. Her., and Kirk, 176–212.
  • Topics: An Athenian rival to Herakles. Plutarch’s biography of Theseus. A "civilizing hero"—Lapiths and Centaurs. Preview of First Generation of Heroes.
  • Reading: [Apollod.] Bibl. 3.16.1—Epitome 1 (Simpson, 217–222); Ovid Met.12.210–360 (Penguin, 474–481); "First Generation of Heroes," Packet, 47–48; Burn, 25–30 (reserve). See also Plutarch, Theseus.

  • The Theban Cycle and the Tragedy of Oedipus
  • Topics: Cadmus and the founding of Thebes. Laius and Jocasta. Oedipus and the Sphinx. Psychology: Oedipus and his predicament.  Epistemology: the Mantic vs. Sophistic World View
  • Reading: [Apollod.] Bibl. 3.1–5 (Simpson, 138–45); Burn, 66–72 (reserve); Soph. Oed. (Grene and Lattimore I, 108–176).

  • Antigone and the State
  • Topics: The fight for Theban succession. "Seven Against Thebes." The End of Oedipus: Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus. Myth and Political Science: Sophocles’ Antigone.
  • Reading: [Apollod.] Bibl. 3.6–7 (Simpson, 145–50); Burn, 72–73); Soph. Ant. (Grene and Lattimore I, 178–232).

  • Other First Generation Heroes
  • Topics: Perseus and Medea. Bellerophon and Pegasus. Jason and the Argonauts.
  • Reading: [Apollod.] Bibl.1.9.16–1.9.28, 2–2.4.8 (Simpson, 54–61, 67–75); Ovid Met. 4.603–5.249 (Penguin, 161–186); Burn, 59–65 (reserve).
  • Writing Assignment #1 Due.

  • Topics: Apollonius of Rhodes’ later version. Gender—Medea: Maiden, Heroine, Victim, or Witch? Euripides’ Medea.
  • Reading: Eur. Medea (excerpts in handout or on reserve); Ovid Met. 7.1–403 (Penguin, 248–268).

  • The Trojan Cycle
  • Topics: Epic and the Heroic Age. The Families of Tyndareus and Atreus. Marriage of Peleus and Thetis. Judgment of Paris. The Trojan War.
  • Reading: "The Trojan Cycle," Packet, 31–39; [Apollod.] 3.10.3–3.13.8, Epitome 2–5, (Simpson, 170–78, 231–33, 239–47).
  • Review 2a

  • The Fate of Agamemnon
  • Topics: The nostoi. Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. Agamemnon’s bloody homecoming. Aeschylus’ Agamemnon.
  • Reading: "The Returns," Packet, 39; [Apollod.] Bibl.Epitome 6 (Simpson, 271–75); Aesch. Ag. (Grene and Lattimore I, 2–60.
    • Homer, the Age of Heroes, and Epic
      • Topics: Old Heroes for a New Age. Homer and his world The "Age of Heroes." Oral Poetry and Epic. The Homeric Hero, Homeric Values, and Homeric "Sins."
      • Reading: “Epic and its Values” (packet)

    • Introduction to Odyssey and the Telemachy
      • Topics: The Hero of the Odyssey and its themes. Structure of Odyssey. Families as Foils; Aegisthus and the Issue of Fate. Telemachus: the coming of age of a hero.
      • Reading: Homer’s Odyssey I-IV (Penguin, 3–62)

       Take-home Quiz #2 due.


    • The Wanderings of Odysseus
      • Topics: Calypso. The Phaeacians. The Flashback: Cicones and the Recklessness of Odysseus’ Men; Lotus Eaters and Forgetting Men; Polyphemus and the Craft and Hybris of Odysseus; Aeolus and Almost Getting Home; Laestrygonians; Circe.
      • Reading: Homer’s Odyssey V–X (Penguin, 63–139); [Apollod.] Bibl. Epitome 7.1–17 (Simpson, 291–93).


    • Odysseus’ Return
      • Topics: The Book of the Dead and Odysseus’ katabasis. Final Obstacles and the fate of Odysseus’ companions: Sirens; Scylla and Charybdis; Cattle of the Sun. Eumaeus: the good servant. Telemachus returns.
      • Reading: Homer’s Odyssey XI–XVI (Penguin, 140–222); [Apollod.] Bibl. Epitome 7.18–25 (Simpson, 293–94).


    • Recognitions and Resolutions
      • Topics: The beggar and the hound. Faithful and unfaithful servants. Tokens of recognition. Theodicy and the death of the suitors. An ending?
      • Reading: Homer’s Odyssey XVII–XXIV (Penguin, 223–324); [Apollod.] Bibl. Epitome 7.26–40 (Simpson, 294–96).


    • An End to Vengeance
      • Topics: Sociology: Blood Vendetta to State Justice. Aeschylus’ Eumenides.
      • Reading: Aesch. Eum. (Grene and Lattimore III, 2–41).





    Unit III: Legends and Literature

  • Apollonius II.
  • Reading: Apollonius' Voyage of Argo, 109–195.
    • The Early Roman Context
      • Topics: Roman "Mythology": Numinous deities and the adoption of Greek anthropomorphism. Early Roman history and legends.
      • Reading: Morford and Lenardon, 503–523 (reserve); Gardner, 7–15 (reserve).
  • Topics: Livy and Augustan Age literature. The Founding of Rome. Aeneas. Romulus and Remus. Rape of the Sabine Women. Numa and Roman religion.
  • Reading: Livy 1–1.23 (Penguin, 29–55); Gardner, 16–38 (reserve).

  • Roman Legends II: Patriotic Sagas
  • Topics: Later kings. The Horatii and Curiatii. Etruscan kings—myth and memory. Lucretia. Overthrow of monarchy.
  • Reading: Livy 1.24–1.60 (Penguin, 55–104); Gardner, 38–45, 59–62 (reserve).
  • Writing Assignment #2 due.

  • Roman Legends III: Civic Heroes
  • Topics: The new republic. The "making" of history and family traditions. Brutus the "tyrannicide." Facing Porsenna: Horatius Cocles, Mucius Scaevola, and Cloelia. Political legends and retrospective history. Treachery of Coriolanus. The Fabii.
  • Reading: Livy 2–2.51 (Penguin, 107–173); Gardner, 45–52 (reserve).
  • Topics: Introduction to Ovid and the Metamorphoses. An Epic? Its Structure? Types of changes in Ovid. The loves and foibles of the gods.
  • Reading: Ovid Met. 1–2 (Penguin, 5–90).

  • Divine Vengeance
  • Topics: Death of Pentheus, Actaeon’s end, punishment of Minyas’ daughters, fate of Cadmus. Athena and Arachne. Children of Niobe. Flaying of Marsyas. Literary artistry in the Metamorphoses.
  • Reading: Ovid Met. 4–6.411 (Penguin, 91–229); E. Huntsman, "The Reversal of the Divine Rape: Ovid’s Actaeon Episode," Packet, 82–86.
  • Take-home Quiz #3 distributed.

  • Topics: Tereus and Philomela; Jason and Medea; Cephalus and Procris; Scylla and Minos; Meleager; Baucis and Philemon; Hercules and Deianira; Byblis and Caunus; Orpheus and Eurydice; Pygmalion and Galatea; Myrrha and Cinyras; and Ceyx and Alcyone.
  • Reading: Ovid Met. 6.412–11.795 (Penguin, 230–461).

  • Ovid’s "Little Aeneid"
  • Topics: Fall of Troy, travels of Aeneas, apotheosis of Caesar, destiny of Augustus.
  • Reading: Ovid Met. 13–15 (Penguin, 497–636); Campbell, "Myth and the Modern World," in The Power of Myth, 3–35 (reserve).
  • Review 3b

     5:00–6:50 p.m. FINAL EXAMINATION

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