Chevron Left
Back to Greek and Roman Mythology

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

1,835 ratings
544 reviews

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.

Filter by:

476 - 500 of 541 Reviews for Greek and Roman Mythology

By Jonathan G

Feb 24, 2018

Interesting course. However, I don't believe it covers everything that needed to be taught. You can easily read the Iliad and other ancient Greek books, but you don't need to be quizzed on it. It would make more sense if this course was about votive offerings and polytheistic worship. Much like a world religions course! If it covered Olympianism and its practices it would've made more sense

By María H R R

Jan 3, 2021

Me gustó porque el maestro explicaba de una forma interesante cada tema a tratar y sí logró generarme una curiosidad hacia toda esta mitología que es muy interesante;pero lo que no me gustó es que no se trataran algunos aspectos importantes de cada historia o mito y en dos o tres ocasiones no hubo subtítulos en español.

Fuera de eso,se me hizo muy interesante y lo recomendaría totalmente.

By Alejandra C R

Dec 3, 2016

Excellent course. The professor is a Master in the theme. He is also very communicative and funny! The problem is that the course is like a class, and online course should include more media resources available in order to be more "interactive". I confess that I already taken the first week. So, I hope that it will change.

Thank you for letting me take this course, I am learning a lot!

By Lata S P

May 17, 2020

Enjoyed the course thoroughly. Got to know about many new things and also learnt about how to see mythology from theories point of view. Many thanks to Peter Struk for designing an informative, engaging course. I would be interested if you have any further course just on 'Mythologies and various theories'. Many thanks to the University of Pennsylvania.

By Ivelina M

Mar 17, 2016

It requires some more time then other courses on the website. And it sometimes it's hard to follow the teacher on all videos (they are longish). But I like the subject a lot and it is nice to have it explained by someone who has a deep understanding of it.

If you think the videos are too long, try increasing the playback speed. It worked for me!

By Sanya K

Jun 13, 2020

Astounding teaching by Mr. Struck, he really striked different chords of myths to help us understand its core, which is really helpful. This quarantine period was made fruitful by this course. I wish it included Homer's Iliad as well, so we could get a better understanding of the same. Still, this course manages to be a brilliant one!!

By Evangelia B

May 26, 2016

Nice course, just needs more video-included notes because we don't always watch the lectures online so that we can't always see the subtitles. And even if the changing questions when we retake the test are great cause they make us be more focused during the lecture, they were sometimes "too much".

Really enjoyed this course, thank you.

By Rory W

Mar 17, 2021

This was a nice course. It's definitely a good intro into some classics if you haven't read them yet. I found that I didn't always agree with Professor Struck's interpretations or his choice toolsets, but that is okay as It's good to hear different view points. His lectures are well spoken and one can learn a lot from him.

By Marla S

Apr 25, 2020

I really enjoyed the course. It assumed that I knew more about mythology than I did. Dr. Struck talks fast, but the notes are always available. He is very knowledgeable. I did not like that the quizzes have a lot of double negatives. That gets confusing. Overall, I learned so much and really enjoyed the course.

By Le-Zaan V D W

Jul 16, 2021

Definitely the most interesting course I've taken to date. I would say there were some parts where I was lost a little when it came to the quiz at the end of each week. Things that might have been mentioned in the writings of the Poets instead of what was mentioned in the actual course (which is understandable)

By Youssef S

May 9, 2020

A very good effort from Prof Struck, many thanks for that

I felt that the amount of material discussed is huge to the space provided by the coarse that is true to many of us who do not have prior knowledge to the topic. Nerveless the time and the effort put into this rather long course is much appreciated

By Jill B V

Jun 13, 2020

Overall, really interesting. As this was my first online course I found it frustrating not to be able to interact with the Prof . Quiz questions answers are sometimes debatable. And one has to be careful when selecting the answer on the Quiz that the blue dot actually stays on the selected answer.

By Sebastian H

Jun 5, 2016

Quite interesting course, learned a lot about the motivations of the Greek and Roman poets, and their relations to myths. For example, before this course I did not realize that myths tells us a lot about the beliefs are values of the Greeks and Romans. Thanks for the opportunity to follow this course!

By Joshua M

Apr 26, 2021

The only thing I would change is to make this just focus on Greek Mythology. I love Roman mythology, but if we're going to work on Greek for 8 weeks, then Roman for 2, it's hard to just get into a whole different Mythology for a brief time. I think it would be best to give 10 weeks to both (or more)!

By Layla C

Jun 20, 2020

I really enjoyed how flexible this course was and how you were also able to voice your own opinions and read others. I would fully recommend this to a friend as it has certainly widened my knowledge on history and even a bit of archaeology which will hopefully prepare me for university.

By erkin g

Oct 11, 2019

I must say I have larned a lot through the course, but the lectures could be prepared more professionally. Anyhow I would recommend this course to anyone who is interested in mythology. It is really fun and learningfull when you read the books in parallel to classes.

By Krystina M

May 8, 2020

The lectures were interesting and well-presented. Some of the questions in the quizzes assumed that the students had read material that was not required reading which was frustrating. That said, I learned a lot and will be be reading more about mythology.

By morefreeze

Apr 24, 2018

I am a learner from China. Maybe it's problem of subtitle, I think some course (like 10.8 The Fall of Troy and the Founding of Rome) main point is not very clear. It seems Professor Struck talked everyone but only few information about them.

By Syed H A

Oct 14, 2018

I think its the best course to have an overview about Greek and Roman mythology, to know about important authors/ writers/ contributors & their famous characters around those mythic stories. Carefully designed to serve the purpose!

By Hamza A

Mar 7, 2021

Great course for getting into the world of Greek and Roman Mythology. The only thing I would want to see improved are the transcriptions of the lectures, other wise speaking for content, really engaging and insightful course.

By Earl

Jun 25, 2020

Really enjoyed it. 4 stars only because it wasn't perfect but I would recommend to anyone and everyone. Especially the part about the Aeneid. Very relevant for today.

Wish there was a course on just the Aeneid.

By Carlo D M

Jun 17, 2020

Thanks to the professor Peter Struck for the interesting course of greek and roman mythology that I enjoyed very much.

I truly recomend the course to everyone.

Best regards from Spain


By Hayya Z

Jun 8, 2020

this course provided me with a summary of all the events. As a first-timer into Greek and Roman myths, it helped me a lot and gave me an idea of where to start and continue studying it.

By Emilia M

Mar 20, 2021

I wish there would've been more about the gods and goddesses. Telling about where they all came from and their stories. But I still enjoyed this course very much.

By Jiayang T

Feb 1, 2018

The videos are interesting, but they are rather long each one comparing to other courses. Maybe the teacher can separate those long videos into short ones.