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Unit information: The Trojan War in Ancient Literature in 2015/16

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Unit name The Trojan War in Ancient Literature
Unit code CLASM0057
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Lyndsay Coo
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The Trojan War forms the subject of our earliest ancient Greek poem, the Iliad, and remains a recognisable and resonant myth up until to the present day. In this unit we will consider how and why writers throughout Greco-Roman antiquity continued to turn to the idea of Trojan War in order to articulate crucial questions and concepts of identity, heroism, political behaviour, gender, lament and commemoration. By analysing a series of core texts, including evidence for the lost Trojan Epic Cycle, selected Greek tragedies and extracts from later Greek and Roman epic, students will be introduced to a chronologically wide range of Trojan receptions, and gain an understanding of the process by which this mythical material could be endlessly adapted to suit its new generic, social and political contexts.


- To acquire detailed knowledge of a chronologically broad range of literary texts which engage with Trojan War mythology. - To analyse how these literary receptions re-interpet Trojan War mythology, and how this relates to their own contexts of production. - To develop critical interaction with primary and secondary materials.

To develop written presentation skills through the course assessment.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students will have:

(1) Acquired knowledge and critical understanding of key texts from Greek and Roman antiquity relating to the theme of the Trojan War.

(2) Acquired the ability to recognise and analyse how these texts may be situated within wider literary and intellectual traditions.

(3) Developed the ability to explain and analyse scholarly approaches to the reception of mythology, and to apply these approaches to their interpretation of the set texts.

(4) Have developed a high level of skills in critical thinking and in written and oral communication.

Additionally (specific to level M), students will be expected to

(5) display high level skills in evaluating, analysing, synthesising and (where apt) critiquing images and ideas.

(6) apply existing analytical strategies to new evidence with flexibility and creativity

(7)demonstrate the capacity for independent research

Teaching details

2 hours per week (seminar)

Assessment Details

One summative essay of 5000 words (100%). Measures ILOs 1-7

Reading and References

Core Texts:

Homer, Iliad (books 1, 6, 9, 18, 22, 24)

Homer, Odyssey (books 4, 8, 11)

Fragments of the Greek Epic Cycle

Sophocles, Ajax

Euripides, Trojan Women

Virgil, Aeneid (book 2)

Ovid, Metamophoses (books 12-13.622)

Quintus of Smyrna, Posthomerica (book 5)

Preliminary Background Reading:

Anderson, M. The Fall of Troy in Early Greek Poetry and Art (Oxford 1997)

Davies, M. The Greek Epic Cycle (Bristol 2001, second edition)

Woodford, S. The Trojan War in Ancient Art (Bristol 1993)