About this Course
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214 reviews

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Approx. 32 hours to complete

English

Subtitles: English, Romanian, Chinese (Simplified)

Skills you will gain

Art HistoryGreek MythologyHistoryMythology

100% online

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.

Approx. 32 hours to complete

English

Subtitles: English, Romanian, Chinese (Simplified)

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

Week
1
3 hours to complete

Introduction

Welcome to Greek and Roman Mythology! This first week we’ll introduce the class, paying attention to how the course itself works. We’ll also begin to think about the topic at hand: myth! How can we begin to define "myth"? How does myth work? What have ancient and modern theorists, philosophers, and other thinkers had to say about myth? This week we’ll also begin our foray into Homer’s world, with an eye to how we can best approach epic poetry. Readings: No texts this week, but it would be a good idea to get started on next week's reading to get ahead of the game. Video Lectures: 1.1-1.7 Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week. ...
8 videos (Total 109 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
8 videos
1.1 What is Myth? 14m
1.2 Course Overview20m
1.3 Ancient Ideas on Myth11m
1.4 Ideas on Myth from the Modern Era15m
1.5 The Trojan War & The World of Homer 16m
1.6 Trojan War Aftermath and The Homer Question 14m
1.7 On Reading Homer 14m
1 reading
Course Readings10m
1 practice exercise
Quiz 1: Introduction to the Course40m
Week
2
3 hours to complete

Becoming a Hero

In week 2, we begin our intensive study of myth through Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey. This core text not only gives us an exciting story to appreciate on its own merits but also offers us a kind of laboratory where we can investigate myth using different theoretical approaches. This week we focus on the young Telemachus’ tour as he begins to come of age; we also accompany his father Odysseus as he journeys homeward after the Trojan War. Along the way, we’ll examine questions of heroism, relationships between gods and mortals, family dynamics, and the Homeric values of hospitality and resourcefulness. Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 1-8. Video Lectures: 2.1-2.10. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
10 videos (Total 102 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
10 videos
2.2 Telemachus' Troubles 10m
2.3 Telemachus' Tour 15m
2.4 Odysseus on Ogygia 12m
2.5 Odysseus on Scheria 10m
2.6 Alcinous 9m
2.7 Knee-Grabbing 7m
2.8 Functionalism 9m
2.9 Reassembling the Hero 11m
2.10 Poetry and Demodocus 10m
1 reading
Odyssey, books 1-810m
1 practice exercise
Quiz 2: Becoming a Hero40m
Week
3
3 hours to complete

Adventures Out and Back

This week we’ll follow the exciting peregrinations of Odysseus, "man of twists and turns," over sea and land. The hero’s journeys abroad and as he re-enters his homeland are fraught with perils. This portion of the Odyssey features unforgettable monsters and exotic witches; we also follow Odysseus into the Underworld, where he meets shades of comrades and relatives. Here we encounter some of the best-known stories to survive from all of ancient myth. Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 9-16. Video Lectures: 3.1-3.10. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
10 videos (Total 110 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
10 videos
3.2 Cycle Two: Circe 7m
3.3 The Underworld 12m
3.4 Cycle 3: The Cattle of the Sun 13m
3.5 Food/Not Food 9m
3.6 Structuralism 16m
3.7 Inner and Outer Worlds 9m
3.8 Extracting Knowledge 8m
3.9 Meanwhile Telemachus... 4m
3.10 Reunion: Father and Sons 7m
1 reading
Odyssey, books 9-1610m
1 practice exercise
Quiz 3: Adventures Out and Back40m
Week
4
2 hours to complete

Identity and Signs

As he makes his way closer and closer to re-taking his place on Ithaca and with his family, a disguised Odysseus must use all his resources to regain his kingdom. We’ll see many examples of reunion as Odysseus carefully begins to reveal his identity to various members of his household—his servants, his dog, his son, and finally, his wife Penelope—while also scheming against those who have usurped his place. Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 17-24. Video Lectures: 4.1-4.8. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
8 videos (Total 86 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
8 videos
4.2 Signs as a Way of Knowing 10m
4.3 What Does Penelope Know? 12m
4.4 The Scar 11m
4.5 Penelope's Dream 8m
4.6 The Bow 9m
4.7 Reunion (Almost) 12m
4.8 Reunion 9m
1 reading
Odyssey, books 17-2410m
1 practice exercise
Quiz 4: Identity and Signs40m
Week
5
3 hours to complete

Gods and Humans

We will take a close look at the most authoritative story on the origin of the cosmos from Greek antiquity: Hesiod’s Theogony. Hesiod was generally considered the only poet who could rival Homer. The Theogony, or "birth of the gods," tells of an older order of gods, before Zeus, who were driven by powerful passions—and strange appetites! This poem presents the beginning of the world as a time of fierce struggle and violence as the universe begins to take shape, and order, out of chaos. Readings: Hesiod, Theogony *(the Works and Days is NOT required for the course)*. Video Lectures: 5.1-5.9. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
9 videos (Total 93 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
9 videos
5.2 Hesiod and Ancient Near East Connections 6m
5.3 Intro to Hesiod 15m
5.4 Hesiod's Opening Hymn to the Muses 10m
5.5 Earth and Sky 16m
5.6 Kronos and Rhea 6m
5.7 Humans and Sacrifice 6m
5.8 War, Cosmos, Reproduction 14m
5.9 Freud 12m
2 readings
Further Reading: Freud (et al.) on myth10m
Hesiod's Theogony10m
1 practice exercise
Quiz 5: Gods and Humans40m
Week
6
2 hours to complete

Ritual and Religion

This week’s readings give us a chance to look closely at Greek religion in its various guises. Myth, of course, forms one important aspect of religion, but so does ritual. How ancient myths and rituals interact teaches us a lot about both of these powerful cultural forms. We will read two of the greatest hymns to Olympian deities that tell up-close-and-personal stories about the gods while providing intricate descriptions of the rituals they like us humans to perform. Readings: Homeric Hymn to Apollo; Homeric Hymn to Demeter (there are two hymns to each that survive, only the LONGER Hymn to Apollo and the LONGER Hymn to Demeter are required for the course). Video Lectures: 6.1-6.7. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
7 videos (Total 76 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
7 videos
6.2 Ritual and Religion 10m
6.3 The Hymn to Demeter10m
6.4 Themes in The Hymn to Demeter 11m
6.5 The Hymn to Apollo: Delos 8m
6.6 The Hymn to Apollo: Delphi 13m
6.7 Myth and Ritual 12m
1 reading
Homeric Hymn to Apollo, Homeric Hymn to Demeter10m
1 practice exercise
Quiz 6: The Homeric Hymns40m
Week
7
3 hours to complete

Justice

What counts as a just action, and what counts as an unjust one? Who gets to decide? These are trickier questions than some will have us think. This unit looks at one of the most famously thorny issues of justice in all of the ancient world. In Aeschylus’ Oresteia—the only surviving example of tragedy in its original trilogy form—we hear the story of Agamemnon’s return home after the Trojan War. Unlike Odysseus’ eventual joyful reunion with his wife and children, this hero is betrayed by those he considered closest to him. This family's cycle of revenge, of which this story is but one episode, carries questions of justice and competing loyalties well beyond Agamemnon’s immediate family, eventually ending up on the Athenian Acropolis itself. Readings: Aeschylus, Agamemnon; Aeschylus, Eumenides. Video Lectures: 7.1-7.10. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
10 videos (Total 98 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
10 videos
7.2 Family Ties, Betrayals 14m
7.3 Introducing Agamemnon 7m
7.4 Agamemnon Themes 10m
7.5 Ideas of Justice 10m
7.6 Libation Bearers6m
7.7 Intro to the Eumenides 10m
7.8 Measuring Evil 5m
7.9 Historical Background 11m
7.10 Readings of the Oresteia 5m
1 reading
Aeschylus, Agamemnon; Aeschylus, Eumenides10m
1 practice exercise
Quiz 7: The Oresteia40m
Week
8
2 hours to complete

Unstable Selves

This week we encounter two famous tragedies, both set at Thebes, that center on questions of guilt and identity: Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Eurpides’ Bacchae. Oedipus is confident that he can escape the unthinkable fate that was foretold by the Delphic oracle; we watch as he eventually realizes the horror of what he has done. With Odysseus, we saw how a great hero can re-build his identity after struggles, while Oedipus shows us how our identities can dissolve before our very eyes. The myth of Oedipus is one of transgressions—intentional and unintentional—and about the limits of human knowledge. In Euripides’ Bacchae, the identity of gods and mortals is under scrutiny. Here, Dionysus, the god of wine and of tragedy, and also madness, appears as a character on stage. Through the dissolution of Pentheus, we see the terrible consequences that can occur when a god’s divinity is not properly acknowledged. Readings: Sophocles, Oedipus Rex; Euripides, Bacchae. Video Lectures: 8.1-8.9. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
9 videos (Total 78 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
9 videos
8.2 Oedipus and Fate 8m
8.3 Oedipus and Oracles 10m
8.4 The Land and Identity 5m
8.5 Chthonic Identity 10m
8.6 Readings of Oedipus 7m
8.7 Greek and Dionysian Ritual10m
8.8 Bacchae Themes 6m
8.9 Reading The Bacchae 11m
1 reading
Sophocles, Oedipus Rex; Euripides, Bacchae10m
1 practice exercise
Quiz 8: Unstable Selves40m
Week
9
3 hours to complete

The Roman Hero, Remade

Moving ahead several centuries, we jump into a different part of the Mediterranean to let the Romans give us their take on myth. Although many poets tried to rewrite Homer for their own times, no one succeeded quite like Vergil. His epic poem, the Aeneid, chronicles a powerful re-building of a culture that both identifies with and defines itself against previously told myths. In contrast to the scarcity of information about Homer, we know a great deal about Vergil’s life and historical context, allowing us insight into myth-making in action. Readings: Vergil, Aeneid, books 1-5. Video Lectures: 9.1-9.10. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
10 videos (Total 114 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
10 videos
9.2 Myth, History, and Vergil12m
9.3 Aeneid Opening 10m
9.4 On Reading Vergil 12m
9.5 Landing on an Unknown Shore 9m
9.6 Trojan War Again 9m
9.7 Retelling Tales 12m
9.8 Two Themes 12m
9.9 Dido and Marriage 14m
9.10 Funeral Games for Anchises 8m
2 readings
Aeneid, books 1-510m
Further Readings: Aeneas Before the Aeneid10m
1 practice exercise
Quiz 9: The Roman Hero, Remade40m
Week
10
2 hours to complete

Roman Myth and Ovid's Metamorphoses

Our consideration of Vergil’s tale closes with his trip to the underworld in book 6. Next, we turn to a more playful Roman poet, Ovid, whose genius is apparent in nearly every kind of register. Profound, witty, and satiric all at once, Ovid’s powerful re-tellings of many ancient myths became the versions that are most familiar to us today. Finally, through the lens of the Romans and others who "remythologize," we wrap up the course with a retrospective look at myth. Readings: Vergil, Aeneid, book 6; Ovid, Metamorphoses, books 3, 12, and 13. Video Lectures: 10.1-10.9. Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week....
9 videos (Total 89 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
9 videos
10.2 Themes in the Underworld 12m
10.3 Vergil and the Theories of Myth 11m
10.4 Ovid—Background and Themes 17m
10.5 Re-visiting Thebes 11m
10.6 Trojan War Again 7m
10.7 Battle for the Arms of Achilles 5m
10.8 The Fall of Troy and the Founding of Rome 6m
10.9 Conclusion 2m
1 reading
Vergil, Aeneid, book 6; Ovid, Metamorphoses, books 3, 12, 1310m
1 practice exercise
Quiz 10: Roman Myth and Ovid's Metamorphoses40m
4.8
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Top Reviews

By PSJul 2nd 2017

Thoroughly enjoyable and instructive introduction to a different world and our historical and present interpretation of its meanings and mysteries. Would recommend to a friend or family member.

By DAApr 13th 2016

This class is very interesting and I love the structure of it. I love how in depth he goes into the different mythological stories and how they connect to Greek culture and daily life.

Instructor

Avatar

Peter Struck

Associate Professor
Classical Studies

About University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania (commonly referred to as Penn) is a private university, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. A member of the Ivy League, Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, and considers itself to be the first university in the United States with both undergraduate and graduate studies. ...

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • When you purchase a Certificate you get access to all course materials, including graded assignments. Upon completing the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

  • There are no required texts for the course, however, Professor Struck will make reference to the following texts in the lecture:

    • Greek Tragedies, Volume 1, David Grene and Richmond Lattimore, trans. (Chicago)

    • Greek Tragedies, Volume 3, David Grene and Richmond Lattimore , trans. (Chicago)

    • Hesiod, Theogony and Works and Days, M. L. West, trans. (Oxford)

    • Homeric Hymns, Sarah Ruden, trans. (Hackett)

    • Homer, The Odyssey, Robert Fagles, trans. (Penguin)

    • Virgil, The Aeneid, Robert Fitzgerald, trans. (Vintage)

    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, David Raeburn, trans. (Penguin)

  • • Week 1: Introduction

    Welcome to Greek and Roman Mythology! This first week we’ll introduce the class, paying attention to how the course itself works. We’ll also begin to think about the topic at hand: myth! How can we begin to define "myth"? How does myth work? What have ancient and modern theorists, philosophers, and other thinkers had to say about myth? This week we’ll also begin our foray into Homer’s world, with an eye to how we can best approach epic poetry.

    Readings: No texts this week, but it would be a good idea to get started on next week's reading to get ahead of the game.

    Video Lectures: 1.1-1.7

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 2: Becoming a Hero

    In week 2, we begin our intensive study of myth through Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey. This core text not only gives us an exciting story to appreciate on its own merits but also offers us a kind of laboratory where we can investigate myth using different theoretical approaches. This week we focus on the young Telemachus’ tour as he begins to come of age; we also accompany his father Odysseus as he journeys homeward after the Trojan War. Along the way, we’ll examine questions of heroism, relationships between gods and mortals, family dynamics, and the Homeric values of hospitality and resourcefulness.

    Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 1-8

    Video Lectures: 2.1-2.10

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 3: Adventures Out and Back

    This week we’ll follow the exciting peregrinations of Odysseus, "man of twists and turns," over sea and land. The hero’s journeys abroad and as he re-enters his homeland are fraught with perils. This portion of the Odyssey features unforgettable monsters and exotic witches; we also follow Odysseus into the Underworld, where he meets shades of comrades and relatives. Here we encounter some of the best-known stories to survive from all of ancient myth.

    Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 9-16

    Video Lectures: 3.1-3.10

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 4: Identity and Signs

    As he makes his way closer and closer to re-taking his place on Ithaca and with his family, a disguised Odysseus must use all his resources to regain his kingdom. We’ll see many examples of reunion as Odysseus carefully begins to reveal his identity to various members of his household—his servants, his dog, his son, and finally, his wife Penelope—while also scheming against those who have usurped his place.

    Readings: Homer, Odyssey, books 17-24

    Video Lectures: 4.1-4.8

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 5: Gods and Humans

    We will take a close look at the most authoritative story on the origin of the cosmos from Greek antiquity: Hesiod’s Theogony. Hesiod was generally considered the only poet who could rival Homer. The Theogony, or "birth of the gods," tells of an older order of gods, before Zeus, who were driven by powerful passions—and strange appetites! This poem presents the beginning of the world as a time of fierce struggle and violence as the universe begins to take shape, and order, out of chaos.

    Readings: Hesiod, Theogony *(the Works and Days is NOT required for the course)*

    Video Lectures: 5.1-5.9

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 6: Ritual and Religion

    This week’s readings give us a chance to look closely at Greek religion in its various guises. Myth, of course, forms one important aspect of religion, but so does ritual. How ancient myths and rituals interact teaches us a lot about both of these powerful cultural forms. We will read two of the greatest hymns to Olympian deities that tell up-close-and-personal stories about the gods while providing intricate descriptions of the rituals they like us humans to perform.

    Readings: Homeric Hymn to Apollo; Homeric Hymn to Demeter (there are two hymns to each that survive, only the LONGER Hymn to Apollo and the LONGER Hymn to Demeter are required for the course)

    Video Lectures: 6.1-6.7

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 7: Justice

    What counts as a just action, and what counts as an unjust one? Who gets to decide? These are trickier questions than some will have us think. This unit looks at one of the most famously thorny issues of justice in all of the ancient world. In Aeschylus’ Oresteia—the only surviving example of tragedy in its original trilogy form—we hear the story of Agamemnon’s return home after the Trojan War. Unlike Odysseus’ eventual joyful reunion with his wife and children, this hero is betrayed by those he considered closest to him. This family's cycle of revenge, of which this story is but one episode, carries questions of justice and competing loyalties well beyond Agamemnon’s immediate family, eventually ending up on the Athenian Acropolis itself.

    Readings: Aeschylus, Agamemnon; Aeschylus, Eumenides

    Video Lectures: 7.1-7.10

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 8: Unstable Selves

    This week we encounter two famous tragedies, both set at Thebes, that center on questions of guilt and identity: Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Eurpides’ Bacchae. Oedipus is confident that he can escape the unthinkable fate that was foretold by the Delphic oracle; we watch as he eventually realizes the horror of what he has done. With Odysseus, we saw how a great hero can re-build his identity after struggles, while Oedipus shows us how our identities can dissolve before our very eyes. The myth of Oedipus is one of transgressions—intentional and unintentional—and about the limits of human knowledge. In Euripides’ Bacchae, the identity of gods and mortals is under scrutiny. Here, Dionysus, the god of wine and of tragedy, and also madness, appears as a character on stage. Through the dissolution of Pentheus, we see the terrible consequences that can occur when a god’s divinity is not properly acknowledged.

    Readings: Sophocles, Oedipus Rex; Euripides, Bacchae

    Video Lectures: 8.1-8.9

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 9: The Roman Hero, Remade

    Moving ahead several centuries, we jump into a different part of the Mediterranean to let the Romans give us their take on myth. Although many poets tried to rewrite Homer for their own times, no one succeeded quite like Vergil. His epic poem, the Aeneid, chronicles a powerful re-building of a culture that both identifies with and defines itself against previously told myths. In contrast to the scarcity of information about Homer, we know a great deal about Vergil’s life and historical context, allowing us insight into myth-making in action.

    Readings: Vergil, Aeneid, books 1-5

    Video Lectures: 9.1-9.10

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

    • Week 10: Roman Myth and Ovid's Metamorphoses

    Our consideration of Vergil’s tale closes with his trip to the underworld in book 6. Next, we turn to a more playful Roman poet, Ovid, whose genius is apparent in nearly every kind of register. Profound, witty, and satiric all at once, Ovid’s powerful re-tellings of many ancient myths became the versions that are most familiar to us today. Finally, through the lens of the Romans and others who "remythologize," we wrap up the course with a retrospective look at myth.

    Readings: Vergil, Aeneid, book 6; Ovid, Metamorphoses, books 3, 12, and 13.

    Video Lectures: 10.1-10.9.

    Quiz: Complete the quiz by the end of the week.

More questions? Visit the Learner Help Center.