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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Greek and Roman Mythology by University of Pennsylvania

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About the Course

Myths are traditional stories that have endured over a long time. Some of them have to do with events of great importance, such as the founding of a nation. Others tell the stories of great heroes and heroines and their exploits and courage in the face of adversity. Still others are simple tales about otherwise unremarkable people who get into trouble or do some great deed. What are we to make of all these tales, and why do people seem to like to hear them? This course will focus on the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, as a way of exploring the nature of myth and the function it plays for individuals, societies, and nations. We will also pay some attention to the way the Greeks and Romans themselves understood their own myths. Are myths subtle codes that contain some universal truth? Are they a window on the deep recesses of a particular culture? Are they a set of blinders that all of us wear, though we do not realize it? Or are they just entertaining stories that people like to tell over and over? This course will investigate these questions through a variety of topics, including the creation of the universe, the relationship between gods and mortals, human nature, religion, the family, sex, love, madness, and death. *********************************************************************************************************** COURSE SCHEDULE • 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. *********************************************************************************************************** READINGS 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) These translations are a pleasure to work with, whereas many of the translations freely available on the internet are not. If you do not want to purchase them, they should also be available at many libraries. Again, these texts are not required, but they are helpful....

Top reviews


Jul 7, 2020

Well thought out well presented. I feel I have gained a very knowledgeable and thorough understanding of both Greek and Roman mythology and their historical gods and goddesses from taking this course.


Aug 19, 2020

I loved this course. It covers material that is generally available to those who can afford an expensive private education. It was a great way to keep myself occupied during the coronavirus lockdown.

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26 - 50 of 645 Reviews for Greek and Roman Mythology

By Gilly K

Jul 5, 2018

Fantastic introductory course. Peter Struck's presentations are illuminating and accessible, sending you back to the text to explore in detail. Thank you - really enjoyable!

By Maria P F

Jul 7, 2020

Excelente curso, muy detallado y a pesar que el contenido puede ser pesado, el instructor lo explica de una manera que lo hace fácil de entender y retener.

By Tiffany L

Jun 29, 2020

You can really see/feel/hear how passionate Peter is about this subject matter. It was an epic journey and I truly got a lot out of it! Thank you!

By Linda R

Sep 11, 2021

Peter Struck is an excellent teacher! He imparts an excellent understanding of mythology and is very engaging Thank you

By Cheryl M

Sep 11, 2021

Exceptional instructor - fun, knowledgable, mind-expanding! I feel enriched by this course. Highly recommended.

By Manveer S

Oct 25, 2017

Was incredibly well done, engaging, and interesting. But, I recommend buying a text book, I did this course without one and not all the answer questions were covered in the lectures.

By Sandy R

May 23, 2020

Overall an excellent and informative course. One or two confusions in the narrative of the lecture but nothing major. Thank you very much.

Sandy Robertson

By Hima K

Apr 29, 2020

This course is well made, however, the stories of Greek myths are not clearly mentioned which makes it difficult for beginners. this course was more focused on the poets of ancient Greece and Rome and of other philosophers which was unexpected and not mentioned in the course description. Professor Struck was engaging but diverted from the main topic quite often. The videos were appealing and the quiz at the end of each week was well constructed and challenging. Thank you!

By Noa M

Dec 31, 2020

Literally the best course on Coursera ever! Before this course I found Greek Mythology so perplexing and only knew the basics from Grade 5 History Class and Disney's Hercules (+ the Dwayne Johnson Hercules Movie + other classic Hercules and Greek Myth Adaptations) + Geronimo Stilton's Adaptation of the Odyssey for Kids + Rick Riordan's adaptation for teens in the Percy Jackson Series that I watched aged 10 in 2010 too. Nevertheless, I was always very interested in Greek and Roman Mythology and wanted to learn about it deeper and get a digestible oversight and overview about what it was about. And Peter Struck was the BEST Professor anyone could've ever asked for. Not only was he engaging, super interested and knowledgable in the subject itself and witty, he found so many interlinks and compared the Mythology of today with its meanings and was able to analyse it with different tools and lenses, such as deeper meaning Functionalism, Binary comparison Structuralism, Freudian Psychoanalysis, Fontanelle Studies, Defining Mythology in different ways (though preferring the definition by academic Buckert) and through Allegories and . You will love and want to plunge into the worlds of Homer, Virgil, Ovid and more - and THANK YOU Mr. Peter Struck for explaining everything so detailedly and vivaciously and always doing it in such a way that was engaging and never boring. Thus, through this course, you'll realise it's more inter-disciplinary and pulling reigns from the domains of Psychology, Sociology and more and you may end up not only with an increased Athena-style wisdom and foundation, but also with better tools to compare literary parallels and be able to read and understand the motivations of the characters in the plays of the Iliad, Odyssey, Homer's Hymns, Aeniad and more (there are many lovely plays to discover here, whether for the first time or for a review trip down memory lane). Thank you thank you thank you and could not recommend this course enough to any Greek/Roman Mythology heads enough :)! 5 Stars!

By Aedrian A

May 27, 2021

I have been casually interested in mythology since childhood, and I took this course to experience how a prestigious institution treats such material. Suffice to say, I was pleasantly surprised on how it went from Week 1 to Week 10. I actually felt that I was in a serious introductory class on classics, as this course goes beyond what the average person expects of mythology being considered trivial and dealt with in terms of what can be memorized. This offering excellently provides a scholarly overview of selected Greek and Roman mythology literature and their underlying history and “humanity” – as products of the prevalent societal psyche of their era. The eye-opening analytic attempts from various fields such as psychology and sociology, through Dr. Struck’s “universal laws” and “toolbox,” have improved my view on the importance of humanities and literature in documenting and perpetuating the zeitgeist. As someone with no advanced degree on this field, perhaps my only criticism of this course is the imbalance of coverage of Greek and Roman mythology in terms of the number of weeks – I hope that Dr. Struck can expand this course in such a way that half of the course will be about the former and another half will be about the latter.

I strongly recommend taking this course while committing to read first the recommended weekly material. If one is not able to acquire the specific translation, I think that any decent reading that can give enough context to what is being discussed will be okay at minimum.   

By Victoria G

Sep 25, 2020

I loved everything about this course. I was mesmerized for ten weeks, taking notes, wandering at the marvels of these ancient texts. I'm very thankful to professor Struck for his approach to the material and the thorough analysis of each piece, plus his evident love and excitement over telling these stories and digging into them. His take allowed me to delve so much deeper and get a grasp of things I may have been unable to get without that extra bit of help. I've come out of the course inspired, with many ideas for stories based on Greek and Roman myths, and in awe of the wondrous heritage of Western literature. I've also turned into the person who sees renditions of myths everywhere while reading every take I can get my hands on, whether it's ancient or contemporary. Thank you for this rich introduction that has already turned into a key part of my own journey as a storyteller, visit to the underworld and all.

By Carla L

Mar 25, 2018

Este é um curso que permite conhecer partes importantes da mitologia grega e romana e suas motivações. Existem várias teorias (muitas vezes conflitantes entre si) para explicar os mitos e seus fundamentos. Por ser complexo, cada teoria e cada parte da história são subdivididas em vários vídeos. Os temas são complexos e ao mesmo tempo fascinantes. A leitura antecipada dos livros indicados faz com que os vídeos sejam ainda melhores, pois muitas vezes jogam interpretações e análises que não conseguimos perceber ao lermos sozinhos. O contrário também é muito útil, principalmente com Virgílio: Assistir aos vídeos antes pode facilitar bastante a leitura desta obra complexa. (Eu fortemente recomendo a leitura de pelo menos os resumos de todas as obras abordadas no curso)

Novos cursos sobre análises de literatura mitológica são muito bem vindos. Não necessariamente de mitologia greco-romana.

By Gail J

Dec 12, 2017

This course explores mythology from several perspectives. At least four come to mind: literature, history, culture, and psychology. The lectures are enriched by online references to original source material as well as lively online forums where responsive mentors and other students explore questions of interest to participants. Prof. Struck of University of Pennsylvania clearly knows his subject well. He also brings his enthusiasm and his sense of excitement about ancient myths which make the lectures come alive. I have listened to recorded lecture series on mythology in the past as well as read several books on the subject, but I found this to be by far the most enjoyable. After taking this course you will have the analytical tools you need to evaluate, appreciate, and understand on many levels the myths of the past and perhaps of the present.

By Nigel S

Jan 27, 2017

This course has given me a very approachable overview of a wide range of knowledge on Greek and Roman mythology. I have very much enjoyed hearing insights into all that we have studied, especially The Odyssey which remains a favourite reading; but now I have been led to see all sorts of subtleties in it which enriches each re-reading of it or parts of it.

I enjoyed everything else, I liked the use of paintings, and found the mapping out of key words and phrases very helpful too. Peter Struck's very approachable delivery struck just the right note of lightheartedness and seriousness.

This course has led me to read works I would never have read - and I'm so glad I have been encouraged to do so - so, a very big Thank You for all your hard work and enthusiasm for all this wonderful material!

I am now keen to learn much more about the Iliad!

By William C

Dec 29, 2021

Take this course! So much fun. So enjoyable!...

Let me elaborate. I looked at some negative reviews that suggested that there are no required readings. I did not read it that way. There ARE required readings but there is no requirement about which edition or translation you use. You really will need to read the texts in order to benefit from this course. If you are not interested in reading the following texts this course is not for you:

The Odyssey (Homer - complete)

The Aeneid (Virgil - only the first half)

Agamemnon and Eumenides (Aeschylus)

Oedipus Rex (Sophocles) & Bacchae (Euripides)

Theogony (Hesiod - complete)

The Metamorphoses (Ovid - only books 3, 12 and 13)

Homeric Hymns to Apollo & Demeter

As you can see there is a fair bit of reading and it is required. It will take a bit of work, no doubt, but it is rewarding.

By Gerry k

Jun 24, 2022

Thoroughly enjoyed this class. I am a 68 year old North American male with a Masters (Liberal Arts). I was "subjected" to High School Latin 50 years ago - which i did not really enjoy but that exposure engendered a life long interest in the Roman Empire. With my spouse i have taken a six week tour of Greece (which we loved!). We have visited Italy several times. Plan to go back to both.

This course was more work than i anticipated ( I only did about half of the reading. But i plan to continue reading about Myth). The Professor was always up beat. I can only imagine how much experience he has under his Classics belt. Congratulations & thank you for sharing your expertise with us all.

I am looking forward to the next course after i spend time on the beach!

Cheers from Port Townsend, Washington

By Sonia E

May 23, 2020

I am an elementary teacher, at home during Covid. I loved this course, and instructor. My favorite readings were The Oddyssey, Book 3 of Metomorphosis, and Oedipus. My husband [engineer] also got interested, and we have been reading aloud together from The Oddyssey. My brother-in-law [elementary school principla] also decide to read The Odyssey, and he loves it! Neither my husband nor I have ever read anything like these writings, and the lectures gave the needed insights and explanations.

The text interpretations of the lectures could be better. Sometimes when it said "undecipherable" I could clearly hear the word. Other times, it didn't feel necessary to write every example of "uh" and "UM" . I suspect the transcripts are done by machine. Better than nothing!

By Bruna F

Jul 2, 2020

I can't believe the course is over! I'm kinda sad actually? Because I'm really gonna miss it! Prime work, EXCELLENT professor (and I truly mean it!), the approached themes and discussions are marvelously interesting (and explained so effortlessly by the professor, he really makes himself easily understood, terrific teaching technique), I've always loved greek mythology and all theses classes shed so many different lights and debates and great topics on it! My most sincere thanks and congratulations to all involved in this fantastic class! I'm gonna definetely take all this knowledge to life, and what I thought it would be impossible just happened, I'm even more passionate about ancient history and myths! I really appreciate all efforts put on this, many many thanks!

By Tami V L

Oct 29, 2016

I thoroughly enjoyed this course. The lectures were interesting, well-delivered, and the course materials offered a broad sampling of Greek and Roman mythology as well as various lens through which to interpret them. I would definitely recommend this course to others. I found myself taking trips to the library to find the recommended texts, watching theatrical performances of Oedipus online while reading the text, listening to an audio recording by Ian McKellen of the Odyssey (Fitzgerald translation) at bedtime, and finding all sorts of connections between the ancient myths and modern life. All in all, this was an excellent and very enjoyable course! Thank you to Peter Struck and all who helped offer this course in the Coursera open courseware format.

By Haykuhi A

Dec 25, 2020

Dear Peter, I cannot begin to thank you enough for this wonderful course!

I first studied Greek and Roman mythology as part of my foreign literature class back in 2011, in my third year of studies at university. Your course turned out to be the best way to revisit the ancient myths that I have been so fond of for many years. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of detail and insight that you so kindly delivered in the course. Each video lesson has been a delight! Your presentations have enriched my knowledge on myths which I originally received from my professor of Foreign Literature at Yerevan State University, my beloved Natalie Gonchar-Khanjian.

I am looking forward to new courses designed by you.

Take care and stay healthy!

By Richard P

Mar 5, 2021

Greek and Roman Mythology is an amazing course, and I enthusiastically recommend to everyone who is interested in the stories that helped shape Western literature and culture. It is one of the best courses I have ever taken (in college or grad school). Prof. Struck is an amazing teacher. He is both entertaining and (obviously) knowledgeable. He helped me see each work we read from multiple perspectives. There is a significant amount of recommended reading (Odyssey, Agamemnon, Oedipus, the Eumenides, Theogony, and parts of the Aeneid, Homeric Hymns, Metamorphoses, etc.), but even if you can't complete all of the reading, you will still enjoy the professor's lecture, which are always very enlightening.

By K L

Nov 14, 2019

What a fantastically clear and totally absorbing course presented by Peter Struck. Complex stories analysed and broken down into easily digestible lectures so that difficult to understand concepts are well understood. Nice use of language and subject matter presented in a thought provoking way. Great explanations on the rationale and use of powerful toolbox of analytical tools to help us to understand the core direction, nuances and subtleties of the work that is being analysed. Many thanks to Peter and his supporting team on the creation of such an informative, seemlessly delivered and hugely enjoyable and educational course. I am very grateful to you Peter Stuck and again many thanks to you.


Jan 3, 2017

I am new to these courses and took up three, of which this was one, at the end of last year. I completed all three of them, and can definitely say that this course was the most enjoyable of the three: although the lecturer was speaking to the already converted in that I was already interested in his subject matter, I felt the whole course was so well delivered: it was very methodically organised, the content, as split between the language, the storyline, the historical context, literary techniques and analysis, was good, and the lecturer himself made the whole subject so enjoyable by his easy and natural manner, and by his knowing his subject well and rarely referring to notes. THANK YOU!

By Richard M

Sep 10, 2022

Human beings like to tell stories; they don’t float around in space; they convey deeper truths about us all. Greek and Roman mythology explores the surface of two of the greatest parts of the Meditteranean mythological pool and provides those who take this course with the tools to analyse mythology on a global scale. Using functionalism, structuralism, psychoanalysis and myth and ritual, we can discover the meanings behind the myths and yield their great truths. The course explores Homer's Odyssey, Hesiod's Theogony, the Homeric Hymns, Aeschylus' Oresteia, Sophocles' Oedipus, Euripides' Bacchae, Virgil's Aeneid, Ovid's Metamorphoses and touches on many other related works.

By Живлова Т А

Feb 6, 2017

That is such a wonderful course. I loved that the material was so in-depth, and the quizes! really testing the thoroughness of your knowledge. Sadly, I didn't have the time to complete the written assignments, but I think that the questions were very well posed. I am not a native English speaker (I'm Russian), and there are some issues even with the best (Soviet Union) translations of the Odyssey. I'd previously bought the Fagles translation, and this course allowed me to explore it in a much more efficient way; it has added a lot to my understanding of the epic. Great many thanks to all the compilers of the course and the lecturer! Keep up the good work)