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CL2317 Homer


Module Organiser: Dr Martine Cuypers
Duration of Course: One term (Sep-Dec)
Contact Hours: 2 lectures p/w, 3 seminars
Weighting: 5 ECTS
Assessment: 20% continuous assessment (one written assignment), 80% end-of-year examination

The Iliad and Odyssey lie at the roots of the Western literary tradition. They formed the basis of Greek education and for more than a millennium were central models with which no Greek author could fail to engage. In the lecture hours we will analyse the Homeric epics as complex and sophisticated narratives originating from a long tradition of oral poetry. We will go through the Iliad and Odyssey book for book, pausing at issues that are of special relevance to the section under discussion, such as heroism, competition and 'Homeric society'; the role of the gods; epithets, formulas and type-scenes; the persona of the narrator and of speaking characters; narrative devices such as similes, retardation, gradual exposition and ring-composition.

Introductory Reading

  • Fowler, R. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Homer (Cambridge 2004).
  • Griffin, J., Homer: The Odyssey (2nd ed. Cambridge 2003).
  • Rutherford, R.B., Homer (Greece & Rome New Surveys 26; Oxford 1996).
  • Silk, M., Homer: The Iliad (2nd ed. Cambridge 2004).

Learning Outcomes:

On successful conclusion of this module, students should be able to demonstrate:

  • familiarity with the contents, style and major themes of the Iliad and Odyssey.
  • familiarity with the central values of the 'Homeric society' and the problems involved in relating epic fiction to historical reality.
  • familiarity with the epics' key narrative techniques and devices and with the central concepts and terms of structuralist narratology.
  • a global knowledge of the influence of the Homeric epics on later Greek and Western literature and culture.

Last updated 8 September 2017