This module will be primarily concerned with the two epics traditionally attributed to Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey. The course will begin with a consideration of the kind of poem represented by these epics, examining what is meant by oral composition, the nature of the epic tradition, and the problems of subsequent transmission. Later seminars will be concerned with the geography, real and imagined, of the Homeric poems; the contexts provided by archaeology for an understanding both of the Mycenaean world and of the so-called dark age which followed; Homeric social and political values; the question of time, memory, and the heroic concept of human life; the relationship between human beings and the gods.
If there is sufficient interest, a class on reading Homer in Greek will be offered on a weekly basis. This is entirely voluntary and has no effect on the assessment for the module.
Students will be expected to have completed a preliminary reading of the two epics before starting the module. Of the modern versions, those by Robert Fitzgerald, Robert Fagles, Richmond Lattimore and Stanley Lombardo are recommended. For the seminars, the texts will be the Lombardo Iliad and, for the Odyssey, the translations by Fagles and Emily Wilson. Lattimore is, in general, the closest to the original Greek. Three critical books that might give you an idea of whether you would enjoy the course are: P. Vivante, The Homeric Imagination (1970); M. Silk, Homer: The Iliad (1987); and J. Griffin, Homer: The Odyssey (1987).
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The aim of this module is to encourage an engagement with the earliest texts in the European literary tradition.
On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:
Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement with the Iliad and the Odyssey in English translation
Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement with the distinctive nature of oral epic
Evaluate key debates within the relevant critical fields dealing with the literary, historical, and cultural contexts of the Homeric epics
Produce independent arguments and ideas which demonstrate an advanced proficiency in critical thinking, research, and writing skills
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You will be given the opportunity to submit a 1000-word formative essay for the module, which can feed into the 3000-word summative essay submitted at the end of the module.
Your essay will be annotated and returned to you by your tutor within two weeks.
You will submit your summative essay via the VLE during the revision and assessment weeks at the end of the teaching semester (weeks 13-15). Feedback on your summative essay will be uploaded to e:Vision to meet the University’s marking deadlines.
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You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours
For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment
Three critical books that might give you an idea of whether you would enjoy the course are: P. Vivante, The Homeric Imagination (1970); M. Silk, Homer: The Iliad (1987); and J. Griffin, Homer: The Odyssey (1987).