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EL35EH: CLASSICAL EPIC (2017-2018)

Last modified: 27 Feb 2018 16:34

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

Qualification Prerequisites


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

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

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.

Degree Programmes for which this Course is Prescribed

  • MA English-French(Mode B)

Contact Teaching Time

30 hours

This is the total time spent in lectures, tutorials and other class teaching.

Teaching Breakdown


1st Attempt

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


  • 3000-word comparative essay (100%)

Formative Assessment



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.

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