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An Introduction to Greek and Roman Literature - ENG00147I

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Jane Raisch
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module will be a dynamic introduction to the varied, vast, and influential world of ancient Greece and Rome. We’ll consider the foundational authors and figures who have shaped the legacy of classical antiquity – Homer, Virgil, Plato, etc. – but with an eye to how modern discussions of translation and gender inform and change how we read them. Inspired by the bestselling translation of the Odyssey by Emily Wilson – the first translation of the poem by a woman – the module will highlight women translators and will consider the political, social, and linguistic implications of translating ancient texts in contemporary contexts. While our focus will be on ancient literature itself, we’ll consider along the way aspects of the history of its reception in England particularly as it relates to gender and translation. Who are the audiences imagined by these texts and how does the act of translation change or shape them? Why – if at all – might the personal perspective of a translator change our experience of reading an ancient text?

No previous experience with classics or ancient history is required and all work will be done in translation.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

The aim of this module is to study (in translation) examples of writing - poetic, historical, fictional, philosophical and dramatic - that emerged from the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. You will also develop critical reading and writing skills, particularly relating to the interpretation and analysis of works in translation.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with the main themes and genres of Greek and Latin Literature, and the interaction of these two literary traditions.

  2. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with relevant cultural and historical contexts.

  3. Examine key debates and critical approaches relating to the development of different genres in these two literary traditions and their translation history.

  4. Develop arguments and ideas which demonstrate a proficiency in critical thinking, research, and writing skills.

  5. Demonstrate an understanding of some of the key issues at stake in the act of translation and in the study of literature in translation.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay : 2,000-word Essay
N/A 70
Open Examination: Multiple choice questions online
Open exam : Take-home exam
N/A 30

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay : 2,000-word Essay
N/A 70
Open Examination: Multiple choice questions online
Open exam : Take-home exam
N/A 30

Module feedback

  • 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

Indicative reading

Margaret Talbot, "The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture"

Virginia Woolf, “On Not Knowing Greek”

Euripides, Bacchae [trans. Anne Carson]

Aristophanes, Frogs [trans. Stephen Halliwell]

Plato, Symposium [trans. Seth Bernadete]

‘Shoes: An Essay on How Plato's "Symposium" Begins,’ Anne Carson

Poems by Sappho and Catullus [trans. Carson, Green and Jackson]

Virgil, Aeneid [trans. Sarah Rudens]

Ovid, Metamorphoses [trans. Stephanie Carter]

Theocritus 11 and 13 [trans. Stephen Halliwell]

Homer, Odyssey (excerpts) [trans. Emily Wilson]

Lucian, A True History [trans. Lional Casson]

Kae Tempest, ‘Brand New Ancients’

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.