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

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574 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.

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76 - 100 of 570 Reviews for Greek and Roman Mythology

By Gerald H

May 2, 2019

The course is presented in a quite interesting and humorous manner. I ended up really enjoying the course and acquired a number of the reading materials for personal use after the course. I had never thought about myths beyond simple stories, why they exist, how it might be they come about, and now am always thinking about the world I live in today and how myths play a role. Great Course!

By Adriana

Mar 3, 2017

Great course! I enrolled knowing nothing (just the basic stories/myths you read everywhere) and I end literally Loving Greek and Roman Mythology. Unfortunately the time is short for such rich and deep topic. Professor Peter Struck was great transmitting the enthusiasm for the stories with a very understandable structure. Thank you for putting together this course, I guess it was and odyssey.

By Johan S H

Jun 6, 2020

The course was great! the teacher explains his ideas in such a way that it is easy to understand them even for foreigner like me. Furthermore, the quizes and the discussions are an interesting way of assessing and comparing the knowledge that we have got. Thank you! Something I did not like tough, is that the certification is a little bit expensive for some people who do not live in the US.

By Marco M

Jun 26, 2020

Peter Struck and team do an excellent job to introduce “universal truths” and a tool box that have enhance my scholarly ability to analyze texts. Really enjoyed the delivery, and course material. It was a great introduction to various texts that I explored further using the same strategies. Thank you, and will be looking out for more courses!! I look for the myth in my everyday life now.

By David H

Aug 9, 2017

Anyone taking this particular course will be in for an awakening in what's real or not and how to see the difference in the story telling. A great way to show and explain life in ancient times even though stories have been told to express life as it was. A very worthwhile learning experience taught in a very relaxing atmosphere. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest or not.

By Maria J V

Oct 22, 2020

Excelente curso introdutório, com tópicos que varrem bem o estudo dos mitos e sua evolução. O prof. Peter Struck é ótimo! Ele é preciso nas suas definições, mas leva o aluno a pensar sobre o tema por diferentes perspectivas. A leitura dos livros ficou completamente diferente e mais rica com suas análises. Além disso, ele é dotado de uma ironia fina e elegante. Parabéns!

By Loh J H

Aug 9, 2020

listening to the myths were very interesting as well as the lessons learnt from them, which i think to a certain extent is still relevant and applicable today. it was very informative and i really enjoyed it, and i believe i have much deeper understanding of Greek and Roman myths and how they came to be, as well as have a clearer understanding of the purposes of myths.

By José A J H

Sep 10, 2019

Beatiful course !! I have enjoyed it and I hope to continue by my own or with other courses trying to understand the meaning of myths. In any case, whatever the meaning, they are exciting and entertaining stories that help us understand that few things have really changed. Congratulations to Prof. Struck and rest of the team. The course is informative and esthetic.

By Miguel C

Jun 10, 2020

This course was a gateway to the ancient cultures and allowed me to have a wider vision about myths and a bigger picture of the Greek and Roman Society. I had the chance to review all the subjects I took at School and at the University but with a deeper and sharper approach. I truly enjoyed all the lessons and I highly recommend this course for all History lovers.

By Raha P

Sep 26, 2021

My experience in learning Greek and Roman mythology via Coursera was one of a kind.

I learned countless things and challenged myself with each exam, also absolutely enjoyed every second I spent on online classes and I treasure them deeply in my heart.

It was the greatest privilege for me to learn from Professor Peter Struck and be able to attend his classes.

By Julie S

Dec 9, 2016

The professor was an absolute joy to learn from. His humor, candor, attention to detail, review of information from previous units, and intelligence made me eager to get to my coursework every evening once the kids were in bed. This was everything I never learned in my own Greek and Roman Mythology course in college many years ago. Thank you!

By Kate R

Jul 25, 2021

excellent. no other word for it. Prof. Struck is clearly passionate about the subject and that allows those engaging in the material for the first time to feel the same awe that he does. using this course to fill my enthusiasm before studying ancient history at university and couldnt think of any better way to fuel that, so thank you very much!

By Laurent G

Apr 26, 2019

Outstanding course. Pr. Struck gives a thorough overview of not just the "stories" but also the tools with which they can be understood and analyzed. I've found that after this course I was equipped to read -- and understand!-- some of the scholarly research into Greek mythology (eg. Vernant or Vidal-Naquet). This is a very illuminating course.

By Igor F T d S

Mar 24, 2020

Maravilhoso. Uma das melhores experiencias que já tive como estudante. O conteúdo é rico e me proporcionou insights incríveis. Muito me será útil -- não só profissionalmente. Obrigado ao professor Peter Struck e à equipe da Penn University. Agradeço grandemente também ao Coursera, por ter me proporcionado magníficos aprendizados neste curso.

By Maria P P

Jan 26, 2020

Como uma apaixonada por Mitologia, tenho apenas a agradecer ao professor e a toda a equipe pois o curso é maravilhoso. Tem um linguagem simples apesar de se tratar de um tema tão complexo e tem uma ótima fluidez.

Com certeza se trata de um curso obrigatório para quem tem interesse em mitologia, historia antiga e estudo de grandes autores.

By Tetiana B

May 20, 2020

This course has fulfilled my knowledge of Greek and Roman mythology and ancient literature. It has become a great start in my journey of learning about ancient civilizations. For a history geek like me, it is one of the best ways to spend your free time. Thank all the team and lecturers, who put this course together, for their hard work!

By Ghadeer N

Apr 19, 2020

I'm not a mythology scholar, but I really REALLY enjoyed this course. The instructor is very passionate about the content, which makes his telling much more enjoyable than usual. I learned a lot about the Greek's cultural background, and a bit more about the Roman's. It was a great choice, and I'd definitely join more courses like this.

By Marc B C

Apr 2, 2020

Nice first approach to Greek and Roman mithology, I think the way the course is covered is pretty handy and easy-going. However, I would add additional online resources related to the course, apart from the books that must be read. It would make it a little bit more interactive. Anyway, it was very very interesting overall, thank you!!!

By Yudhanjaya W

Mar 7, 2017

This is one of the most useful courses on mythology I've ever come across. Peter Struck is an extremely thorough lecturer, and journeying through the Odyssey and the Aenied (among others) with him is a fascinating journey - not just into Greek and Roman mythology, but literature, culture, their psychologies, and their social structures.

By Christine

Jul 8, 2020

I loved this course. It was both enjoyable and instructive. Professor Struck offers a unique way of teaching this course with interesting views and lively explanations. It felt like I was having coffee with a friend who had something exciting to say. Thank you Professor, I truly hope you will teach more of these courses in the future.

By Kristine A M

Nov 20, 2016

This is a very entertaining course. There is a lot of reading, but the readings are so enjoyable that it doesn't seem like too much. I was able to obtain the books at my local library. This course refreshed and added a great deal to my understanding of the greek and roman mythology I studied years ago in high school and at university.

By Madhura V U

May 30, 2020

It is a very interesting course for beginners like me who want to know more about Greek and Roman Mythology. It was very systematic and made me read Greek and Roman Epics. I would like to thank Prof.Peter Stuck and the University of Penn for this course and last but not the least, to Coursera for making this course available.

By Anastasia S A

Aug 24, 2021

"Greek and Roman Mythology" is one of the best courses I have ever attended. I was pleasantly surprised by some new perspectives on the carefully selected topics. I enjoyed every moment of it and I highly recommend it. The narration is enchanting and it is obvious that the instructor is a born teacher and loves what he does.

By Kathleen M

May 4, 2020

This course was excellent--both in content and method. Professor Struck offered a deeply satisfying presentation of content about Greek and Roman Mythology in a context of delight and wonderment. I can imagine this is a wildly popular course at Penn and Struck a very popular professor. Thank you for a great experience!

By Charlotte M

Jun 27, 2020

I really enjoyed this course and it has, without a doubt, improved my knowledge vastly. I found Dr Struck's lectures interesting and engaging and the ability to learn online at my own pace over the week fitted in well with working at home. I highly recommend this course and wouldn't hesitate to embark on a further one.