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Classical Mythology

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Education
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History
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In this subject we explore Greek and Roman mythology, with particular reference to some core narratives and themes. Greek mythology is very focused around hero myths, and this is a central aspect of our study. Heroes studied in the subject include Heracles, Jason, Perseus, Bellerophon and Odysseus. We also examine some key thematic elements of Classical mythology- the figure of the monster, the sexual conduct of gods and mortals, conception and birth, fire, images of the underworld and life after death. The adaption of Greek myth in Italy (Entruscan and Roman) to meet the needs of different cultures will be explored. Sources dealt with in the subject include epic poetry, drama, painted vases, tomb paintings, and architectural remains. We conclude the subject with some modern cinematic adaptations of mythic themes from the ancient world.

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In this subject we explore Greek and Roman mythology, with particular reference to some core narratives and themes. Greek mythology is very focused around hero myths, and this is a central aspect of our study. Heroes studied in the subject include Heracles, Jason, Perseus, Bellerophon and Odysseus. We also examine some key thematic elements of Classical mythology- the figure of the monster, the sexual conduct of gods and mortals, conception and birth, fire, images of the underworld and life after death. The adaption of Greek myth in Italy (Entruscan and Roman) to meet the needs of different cultures will be explored. Sources dealt with in the subject include epic poetry, drama, painted vases, tomb paintings, and architectural remains. We conclude the subject with some modern cinematic adaptations of mythic themes from the ancient world.

iTunes Ratings

12 Ratings
Average Ratings
7
3
0
1
1

iTunes Ratings

12 Ratings
Average Ratings
7
3
0
1
1
Cover image of Classical Mythology

Classical Mythology

Latest release on Jun 05, 2013

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In this subject we explore Greek and Roman mythology, with particular reference to some core narratives and themes. Greek mythology is very focused around hero myths, and this is a central aspect of our study. Heroes studied in the subject include Heracles, Jason, Perseus, Bellerophon and Odysseus. We also examine some key thematic elements of Classical mythology- the figure of the monster, the sexual conduct of gods and mortals, conception and birth, fire, images of the underworld and life after death. The adaption of Greek myth in Italy (Entruscan and Roman) to meet the needs of different cultures will be explored. Sources dealt with in the subject include epic poetry, drama, painted vases, tomb paintings, and architectural remains. We conclude the subject with some modern cinematic adaptations of mythic themes from the ancient world.

Rank #1: Heroes in the Underworld

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A trip to the home of the dead is a specific kind of ‘quest narrative’ carried out by Greek mythology’s greatest heroes, as a rite of passage and a demonstration of a great hero’s power. To journey to the underworld and return is the most extreme inversion of mortality which a hero can achieve, and the Greek underworld is the last, inescapable location for even great warriors like Achilles. The most renowned underworld visitors are Odysseus, who meets figures from his past and finds out what he needs to do in the future; Herakles, who retrieves Cerberus, the fierce guard of the underworld, as one of his quests; and Orpheus, a musician of such skill that he can pacify wild beasts with his music who manages to persuade the gods of the underworld to allow his dead wife, Eurydice, to return with him. This lecture investigates the heroes who visit the home of the dead, as well as exploring Greek conceptions of where the underworld was and how it appeared.

Copyright 2013 Annabel Orchard, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Apr 14 2013

42mins

Play

Rank #2: Thebes I: Foundation

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Thebes, in central Greece, had its own distinctive foundation myths, which combined divine origin, autochthony and immigrant stories. There are several myths of foundation: the walls were built by sons of Zeus, while the territory was laid out by Cadmus, a refugee fromAsia Minor, who peoples Thebes with the offspring of the Spartoi (‘the Sown Men’), warriors who grow from the ground when Cadmus plants the teeth of a monstrous snake. Featured in several Athenian tragedies, Thebes has been seen as a displaced location on which Athens enacts dangerous and confrontational ideas. This lecture investigates this idea by looking in detail at the anarchy wrought by Dionysus in Euripides’ Bacchae.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

May 08 2013

49mins

Play

Rank #3: Trojan War and Nostos: The Quest of Odysseus

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The Greek heroes of the Trojan war often have difficult journeys and disastrous homecomings. This lecture looks at the nostos or homecoming tale of Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey. It examines the consequences of upholding, subverting and transgressing civilised values in the epic, and the way this theme is represented both by the poet and his character.

Copyright 2013 Annabel Orchard, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Apr 17 2013

45mins

Play

Rank #4: Thebes II: Destruction

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Incest, fratricide and patricideare central to the Theban myths explored in Athenian tragedy, particularly Sophocles’ Oedipus the King. Written during a plague at Athens, the play opens with plague at Thebes, which as Oedipus discovers, has been caused by his own unwitting murder of his father, Laius; he then marries and fathers children with his mother, Jocasta. This lecture explores the importance of the Oedipus myth at Athens; how it fits into the self-destructive and deviant myths which Athenian tragedy sets at Thebes, and how it still resonates for us, particularly after Freud wrote of it andused Oedipus’ quest for self-knowledge as an analogy for psychoanalysis.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

May 08 2013

39mins

Play

Rank #5: Rome I: Foundation

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Rome was famously founded by Romulus in 753 BCE, but that’s not the end of the story, for the Romans also traced their ancestry back to Aeneas, a survivor of the Trojan War. In this lecture and the next, we explore what these two lineages offer Rome and how Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, claimed descent from the gods themselves. Here we consider the significance of history in Rome’s mythic beginnings, and how Rome’s early history and kings reflect important facets of Roman identity.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

May 16 2013

49mins

Play

Rank #6: Rome II: Asylum: Romulus and Remus

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Romulus was revered as the founding hero of Rome, later made a god, but his myth is not without ambiguity. A significant element of the city foundation story is the murder of his brother Remus, and the most common version of this myth is that Romulus himself was responsible. This lecture explores the difficulties which fratricide presented to the Romans, how they tried to explain it, and how it has been analysed by scholars of Roman myth as a story which was makes sense of Rome’s social and political history.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

May 16 2013

45mins

Play

Rank #7: Theories of Mythology, Part II

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How can we explain where myths come from and what they mean? This lecture looks at the various ways that scholars have attempted to analyse and interpret classical myths. Through ritual theory to Freud and Jung’s psycholanalytical theories, and the Structuralism of Lévi-Strauss to ideological frameworks, such as Marxism and gender theory, to Post-structuralism, we ask whether one theory ever fits all sizes of myth, and how cultural context has come become a significant factor in how we look at these mythological narratives.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Apr 24 2013

42mins

Play

Rank #8: Essay Writing for Myth

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This lecture shows students which pitfalls should be avoided when writing an essay, and gives the basics on how to research, plan and structure an essay, as well as detailed information on how to quote, paraphrase and reference primary and secondary authors, and how to attribute their words and ideas without falling into the trap of plagiarism.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Apr 24 2013

49mins

Play

Rank #9: Murder and Retribution: the House of Atreus

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Cannibalism, murder and revenge are at the heart of the complex of myths surrounding the House of Atreus, a family cursed to exact violence on one another from generation to generation. This lecture investigates the way that the murder of Agamemnon is treated in both Homer’s Odyssey and Aeschylus’ Oresteia, and discusses how each version of the myth reflects contemporary concerns. In particular,Aeschylus’ trilogy deals with themes which were significant to the political culture of democratic Athens, which gave power to civic institutions ratherthan to the household, and put authority firmly in the hands of Athenian males.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Apr 17 2013

49mins

Play

Rank #10: Founding Athens II: Ion and Origin Myths in Tragedy

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Mythological stories dramatized in Athenian tragedy provide us with a good opportunity to explore how myth is used in aparticular political and social context. Dramatists choose specific mythological episodes, which make it possible to reflect on Athenian society and to question the validity of the myths themselves. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Euripides’ Ion, which retells the myth of one of Athens’ early kings, and highlights contemporary issues from Euripides’ own time, such as the exclusivity of Athenian citizenship and the Athenian claim to authority over all Ionian peoples.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

May 02 2013

50mins

Play

Myth in Film

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Classical myth and film have a long history of being intertwined, as myth was made into film from the days of silent movies, and ancient texts themselves often use what we might see as ‘cinematic’ techniques when framing a scene. This lecture explores how Greek and Roman myths have appeared on screen from the ‘historical’ epics of the 1950s and 1960s, through dubbed Italian musclebound heroes to the new CGI epics such as Clash of the Titans. It also considers how mythic tropes are recontextualised in modern scenarios, in films like Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou? which models itself on the Odyssey.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Jun 05 2013

40mins

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Greek Myth at Rome: Power

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Ovid’s Metamorphoses was written during the Augustan period, and it is clear that its author was often out of tune with the political regime. This lecture explores the different ways in which the poem transforms Greek mythology to explore issues such as power, justice and censorship. Ovid’s gods often exert power arbitrarily, punishing those who are already victims or taking revenge for perceived slights. Here we explore the ways in which Greek myth can function as a contemporary critique of Roman society.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Jun 05 2013

39mins

Play

Greek Myth at Rome: Metamorphosis

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Ovid’s Metamorphoses is one of the most significant ancient texts for the study of Greek mythology, but we should remember that this is a Roman work, which absorbs influences from the whole of the Mediterranean world. This lecture looks at the poem’s cosmogony in book and compares it to the Hesiodic version (explored earlier in lecture 2), showing how various philosophical and scientific ideas have been added to the Ovidian mix. We also see how Ovid sets up the parallel between the Olympian gods, particularly, Jupiter, and the emperor Augustus, a fact which makes this poem both topical and politically contentious.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

May 31 2013

50mins

Play

Roman Identity II: Heroines

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Although Ancient Rome was clearly a patriarchal society (literally so, as the father had supreme power in the Roman household), Roman myth also features many prominent women, from the Sabine wives who intervene to end a war, to individualised women (both heroines and demonised women) who show us which qualities Romans valued in women. These myths are often connected to female sexuality, particularly in the case of Lucretia, whose rape brings about a political revolution, inspiring the end of the Monarchy and the foundation of the Republic.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

May 23 2013

45mins

Play

Roman Identity I: Heroes

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Rome’s mythic history is littered with heroes who exemplify positive and negative ways of behaving. Livy in particular is fond of using mythic figures as exempla in his historical work, but we see it elsewhere too, for example in poetry and in public monuments. This lecture explores the qualities which are celebrated in Roman heroes, and examine the way that the state is prioritised over personal relationships and the family in many of them.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

May 23 2013

46mins

Play

Rome II: Asylum: Romulus and Remus

Podcast cover
Read more

Romulus was revered as the founding hero of Rome, later made a god, but his myth is not without ambiguity. A significant element of the city foundation story is the murder of his brother Remus, and the most common version of this myth is that Romulus himself was responsible. This lecture explores the difficulties which fratricide presented to the Romans, how they tried to explain it, and how it has been analysed by scholars of Roman myth as a story which was makes sense of Rome’s social and political history.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

May 16 2013

45mins

Play

Rome I: Foundation

Podcast cover
Read more

Rome was famously founded by Romulus in 753 BCE, but that’s not the end of the story, for the Romans also traced their ancestry back to Aeneas, a survivor of the Trojan War. In this lecture and the next, we explore what these two lineages offer Rome and how Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, claimed descent from the gods themselves. Here we consider the significance of history in Rome’s mythic beginnings, and how Rome’s early history and kings reflect important facets of Roman identity.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

May 16 2013

49mins

Play

Thebes II: Destruction

Podcast cover
Read more

Incest, fratricide and patricideare central to the Theban myths explored in Athenian tragedy, particularly Sophocles’ Oedipus the King. Written during a plague at Athens, the play opens with plague at Thebes, which as Oedipus discovers, has been caused by his own unwitting murder of his father, Laius; he then marries and fathers children with his mother, Jocasta. This lecture explores the importance of the Oedipus myth at Athens; how it fits into the self-destructive and deviant myths which Athenian tragedy sets at Thebes, and how it still resonates for us, particularly after Freud wrote of it andused Oedipus’ quest for self-knowledge as an analogy for psychoanalysis.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

May 08 2013

39mins

Play

Thebes I: Foundation

Podcast cover
Read more

Thebes, in central Greece, had its own distinctive foundation myths, which combined divine origin, autochthony and immigrant stories. There are several myths of foundation: the walls were built by sons of Zeus, while the territory was laid out by Cadmus, a refugee fromAsia Minor, who peoples Thebes with the offspring of the Spartoi (‘the Sown Men’), warriors who grow from the ground when Cadmus plants the teeth of a monstrous snake. Featured in several Athenian tragedies, Thebes has been seen as a displaced location on which Athens enacts dangerous and confrontational ideas. This lecture investigates this idea by looking in detail at the anarchy wrought by Dionysus in Euripides’ Bacchae.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

May 08 2013

49mins

Play

Founding Athens II: Ion and Origin Myths in Tragedy

Podcast cover
Read more

Mythological stories dramatized in Athenian tragedy provide us with a good opportunity to explore how myth is used in aparticular political and social context. Dramatists choose specific mythological episodes, which make it possible to reflect on Athenian society and to question the validity of the myths themselves. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Euripides’ Ion, which retells the myth of one of Athens’ early kings, and highlights contemporary issues from Euripides’ own time, such as the exclusivity of Athenian citizenship and the Athenian claim to authority over all Ionian peoples.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

May 02 2013

50mins

Play

Founding Athens I: Creating History

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Origins of cities and peoples are an important component of Greek mythology, and were central to ancient Greeks’ conception of their own identity. The most famous Greek origin myth is that of the Athenians, who, unlike most other Greeks, thought of their ancestors as strongly connected to and even born from the earth, in other words as autochthonous. This lecture explores the birth myths of the early, mythical kings of Athens, such as Kekrops, Erichthonius and Erectheus, and ends withsome discussion Ion, who gave his name to the Ionians, and the various genealogies asssociated with him (N.B. Euripides’ version of Ion is discussed in more detail in Lecture 14).

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

May 01 2013

48mins

Play

Essay Writing for Myth

Podcast cover
Read more

This lecture shows students which pitfalls should be avoided when writing an essay, and gives the basics on how to research, plan and structure an essay, as well as detailed information on how to quote, paraphrase and reference primary and secondary authors, and how to attribute their words and ideas without falling into the trap of plagiarism.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Apr 24 2013

49mins

Play

Theories of Mythology, Part II

Podcast cover
Read more

How can we explain where myths come from and what they mean? This lecture looks at the various ways that scholars have attempted to analyse and interpret classical myths. Through ritual theory to Freud and Jung’s psycholanalytical theories, and the Structuralism of Lévi-Strauss to ideological frameworks, such as Marxism and gender theory, to Post-structuralism, we ask whether one theory ever fits all sizes of myth, and how cultural context has come become a significant factor in how we look at these mythological narratives.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Apr 24 2013

42mins

Play

Murder and Retribution: the House of Atreus

Podcast cover
Read more

Cannibalism, murder and revenge are at the heart of the complex of myths surrounding the House of Atreus, a family cursed to exact violence on one another from generation to generation. This lecture investigates the way that the murder of Agamemnon is treated in both Homer’s Odyssey and Aeschylus’ Oresteia, and discusses how each version of the myth reflects contemporary concerns. In particular,Aeschylus’ trilogy deals with themes which were significant to the political culture of democratic Athens, which gave power to civic institutions ratherthan to the household, and put authority firmly in the hands of Athenian males.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Apr 17 2013

49mins

Play

Trojan War and Nostos: The Quest of Odysseus

Podcast cover
Read more

The Greek heroes of the Trojan war often have difficult journeys and disastrous homecomings. This lecture looks at the nostos or homecoming tale of Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey. It examines the consequences of upholding, subverting and transgressing civilised values in the epic, and the way this theme is represented both by the poet and his character.

Copyright 2013 Annabel Orchard, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Apr 17 2013

45mins

Play

Heroes in the Underworld

Podcast cover
Read more

A trip to the home of the dead is a specific kind of ‘quest narrative’ carried out by Greek mythology’s greatest heroes, as a rite of passage and a demonstration of a great hero’s power. To journey to the underworld and return is the most extreme inversion of mortality which a hero can achieve, and the Greek underworld is the last, inescapable location for even great warriors like Achilles. The most renowned underworld visitors are Odysseus, who meets figures from his past and finds out what he needs to do in the future; Herakles, who retrieves Cerberus, the fierce guard of the underworld, as one of his quests; and Orpheus, a musician of such skill that he can pacify wild beasts with his music who manages to persuade the gods of the underworld to allow his dead wife, Eurydice, to return with him. This lecture investigates the heroes who visit the home of the dead, as well as exploring Greek conceptions of where the underworld was and how it appeared.

Copyright 2013 Annabel Orchard, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Apr 14 2013

42mins

Play

Heroes and Quests

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Heroes go beyond the realms of ordinary mortals, and a significant element in the heroic narrative is a quest – for a precious or supernatural object, a person or for knowledge. One of the most famous quest narratives is that of Jason and the Argonauts and their quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece, a group quest, which involves one major target for Jason and several minor narratives involving the other heroes of the Argo. Other heroes discussed in this lecture include Perseus and Herakles, whose quests involve retrieving and destroying monsters and allow them to acquire superhuman powers, taking them further away from mortals and arguably closer to the gods.

Copyright 2013 Annabel Orchard, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Apr 10 2013

36mins

Play

Heroes and Monsters

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In Greek myth heroes do not always fight for the greater good – instead many strive for personal glory and some are downright anti-social. This lecture discusses the patterns of heroic behaviour found in myths by looking at heroes such as Herakles, Odysseus and Jason. It demonstrates what they have in common and how they act as individuals, and concludes with an examination of the monsters pitted against them.

Copyright 2013 Annabel Orchard, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Mar 27 2013

48mins

Play

Golden Age and the Five Races

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The Golden Age and subsequent decline through inferior 'races' is an important element of Greek myth from our earliest mythological texts, and reflects a distancing between gods and humans. The utopian aspects of the Golden Age include a simple but entirely carefree existence, with no work, warfare or agriculture, yet no lack of food or shelter. However, the stages of decline can vary: the different versions of and reasons for decline are analysed in this lecture as critiques of contemporary life, using texts from archaic and classical Greece, and also a parody of the Golden Age from imperial Rome. This lecture concludes with an analysis of the 'invented' myth of Atlantis, found first in Plato, and considers its relationship with Golden Age myth as well as Plato's Athenian context.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Mar 25 2013

52mins

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Olympians in Art

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A vast array of mythological narrative is found on Greek vases, temples and in free-standing sculpture. These visual representations of Greek myths are as malleable as narratives found in written texts, and sometimes give us information on mythological variations which are not found in other media. This lecture investigates the forms in which we find the gods in Greek art, and looks at some prime examples of artworks which show particular moments from myths, such as the Labours of Herakles overseen by the goddess Athena, which formerly decorated the Temple of Zeus at Olympia.

Copyright 2013 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

Mar 20 2013

53mins

Play

iTunes Ratings

12 Ratings
Average Ratings
7
3
0
1
1