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CL1002 Greek and Roman Mythology and Religion

herakles and cerberus, birth of aphrodite

Module Organiser: Dr. Christine Morris
Teaching Staff 2017–18: Dr Suzanne O’Neill, Dr Nicolette Pavlides
Duration of Course: All Year
Contact Hours: 22 lectures and 9 seminars
Weighting: 10 ECTS
Assessment: Examination 80%, Continuous assessment (two written assignments) 20%

Overview and Aims:

What is myth? How do myths deal with fundamental human concerns about who we are and the world we live in? What is the relationship between myth and religion? Why did the Greeks and Romans worship many gods, believe in oracles, or perform animal sacrifice? This module is an introduction to the major myths and religions of the classical world using the full range of primary source material: literary, artistic and archaeological. It explores the functions of myth within society and the various theories of myth. The first half of the module focuses on themes such as the creation myths in the wider context of Near Eastern mythology, the character of the Olympian gods, heroes and their monstrous opponents, divine-human relations, and the major mythic cycles of the Trojan war, and the Atreus and Theban sagas. The second half of the module explores the nature of Greek and Roman religion in its social context. It considers key elements of ritual action: sacrifice, rites of passage, festivals, as well as the diverse ancient beliefs on death and the afterlife, and the role of mystery religions.

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with the main characters, stories and themes of classical myths
  • Discuss the major theories of myth in relation to the classical material
  • Build up a basic knowledge of the central religious beliefs and practices of the Greeks and Romans in their historical and cultural context
  • Acquire a knowledge of the primary sources for the study of myth and religion
  • Learn to use the different sources critically and to understand what kinds of questions and interpretations the evidence can support
  • Understand mythic ideas and religions on their own terms, and to avoid imposing our own beliefs and values on other cultures

Last updated 8 September 2017 ryanw1@tcd.ie.