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EL35EH: CLASSICAL EPIC (2018-2019)

Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

This course is your opportunity to study four of the most influential and gripping texts of world literature. We begin in the oral culture of ancient Greece, with the Iliad's stark meditation on war and death, and the Odyssey's consolatory reflections on divine justice, poetry and love. In imperial Rome, we see the genre transformed into a monument to political power in Virgil's Aeneid, then thrown into disarray by Ovid's irreverent anti-epic, the Metamorphoses. We end by considering some of the ways these texts have been exploited and adapted across the intervening centuries, in poetry and prose, art and film.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Syrithe Pugh

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • English (EL)
  • Either Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

On this course we will read (in English translation) what are arguably the most influential texts of world literature, and among the most exciting tales ever told. We begin in ancient Greece with Homer's two contrasting epics, composed orally before writing reached Europe—the Iliad's dark vision of human mortality, and the Odyssey's meditation on the enchantment of story-telling. Moving to classical Rome, we shall see how Virgil transformed the genre into a monument to imperial power, and how it is thrown into disarray by Ovid's fantastical and irreverent epic of endless change. We end by considering some of the ways these foundational texts have been exploited, imitated and adapted across the centuries, in literature, art and film.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt

  • Two 2500-word essays (40% and 50% respectively)
  • Seminar assessment mark (10%)


  • 3000-word comparative essay (100%)

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.


Oral and written feedback on all work will be delivered in sufficient time to be able to be used by students to improve their work, and it will be appropriate and relevant to helping students understand where they have both gained and lost marks, and how to improve their work.

Course Learning Outcomes


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