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CLA3030 - Ancient Greek Epic

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Jane Griffiths


Clayton Second semester 2007 (Day)


This unit explores the epic poetry of pre-Classical Greek and the cultural context in which it was created. We will focus on Homer's 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey', and the Trojan war stories of the Epic Cycle. Students will gain an understanding and appreciation of epic through close readings of the primary texts, and examine theories of oral composition and the major scholarly approaches to the unit. Texts will be studied in translation.


By the completion of this subject students will have read all of the prescribed selection of authentic texts in translation and the selected secondary texts/readings provided at the end of each seminar. Students will have gained and be able to demonstrate:

  1. A knowledge of the historical and cultural background to the prescribed selection of authentic texts, and a context-based understanding of them.
  2. A detailed knowledge and understanding of the themes and issues that are generated in Ancient Greek epic poetry, especially the Iliad and Odyssey.
  3. Knowledge of the literary qualities/character of the received (written) text and way in which they shed light on the tradition of their oral transmission, including knowledge of the theory of formulaic composition and the issues of orality and literacy.
  4. The ability to discriminate between evidence, interpretation, opinion and fact in secondary sources.
  5. The ability to develop their own interpretations and understanding of the primary texts.
  6. The ability to engage with the critical discourse. This will be assessed in the longer essay, in which students will be required to demonstrate a detailed understanding of critical approaches in the secondary sources.


Seminar paper (500 words): 10%
Essay (2500 words): 55%
Take-home exam (1500 words): 35%

Contact hours

2.5 hours (1 x 1 hour lecture and 1 x 1.5 hour seminar) per week