What you will study
In this module you’ll develop an understanding of the key features of Greek and Roman myth by exploring art, literature and objects that take Greek and Roman myth as their subject matter. You’ll do this in three stages: first by studying different versions of specific myths in the ancient world and beyond, then by looking more broadly at the uses of myth in classical Athens and Augustan Rome, and finally by undertaking your own project on a figure from Greek and Roman myth. As you study, you’ll explore versions of myths in a wide range of media, including poetry, drama, prose, painted pottery, paintings and sculpture and be introduced to key academic debates connected with the myths and themes that you’ll study.
You’ll begin by thinking about what is meant by ‘myth’ and the functions it performs. By studying different versions of the myth of Andromeda and Perseus, you’ll learn about some of the ways in which myths change, depending on how, when, and by whom they are told.
Block 1: The Myth of Medea
The character of Medea is intriguing and multi-faceted: she was of divine descent, a princess, a sorceress, a priestess, a wronged woman and a child-slayer. You’ll explore how Medea was characterised and represented in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, tracing the myth from its earliest appearance in literary and visual sources in Archaic Greece, through Greek and Roman antiquity and beyond.
Block 2: Myth in Classical Athens: Identity, Ideology and Experience
You'll explore how mythological stories were used in one time and place, namely Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE, focusing on two main strands: how the Athenians used myth to express ideas about their society and the world around them, and how they experienced myth in their day-to-day lives. Your studies in this block take in public art and architecture, oratory, history, tragedy and religious beliefs and practices.
Block 3: Myth in Rome and Beyond: Ovid’s "Metamorphoses"
The focus will be on Augustan Rome, exploring the significance and ideological functions of myth in Roman culture, and Ovid’s epic poem, the Metamorphoses. As well as considering its relationship to the cultural context in which it was written, you’ll also explore post-classical and modern receptions of the Metamorphoses in media ranging from poetry to painting to film, considering how Ovid’s myths link to themes with particular currency in the 21st century.
Block 4: Researching and Communicating Greek and Roman Myth
You'll design your own project on Greek and Roman myth, with the option of either writing an extended essay or, alternatively, curating a ‘one-room exhibition’ (using bespoke software specifically designed for this module). You’re guided through the various stages of planning this end-of-module project, such as identifying a topic, locating sources and scholarship, and communicating your findings effectively. You’ll initially work on a detailed plan, which you’ll then develop into your completed project in the final weeks of the module.
You will learn
By studying this module you will:
- gain an in-depth knowledge of a range of myths, and learn how these functioned in a range of historical, social and cultural contexts
- communicate information, arguments and ideas accurately and effectively, taking account of your audience
- become familiar with a range of scholarship and make informed contributions to debates relating to Greek and Roman myth
- develop as an independent learner with ideas and strategies for exploring, analysing and learning about a given subject area
- gain experience of planning, researching and writing an extended piece of independent work in the form of an end-of-module project.