Epic and History

HIST 3923H-003 / HIST 3983-008 / HIST 533V / CLST 4003H-002 / Spring 2012

The Voyage of Aeneas

Instructor: Dr. Charles E. Muntz
Time: MWF 11:30-12:30 pm
Place: 422 Old Main
Dr. Muntz's Office: 407 Old Main
Office Hours: Tu 10:30-11:30am, W 1:00-2:30 pm
Phone: (479) 575-5891
Email: cmuntz@uark.edu


This class will explore the genre of epic poetry in the ancient world, and how epic poems are reflections of the societies that created them and what this means both for the historian and the literary critic. The earliest works of western literature are epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, and scholars have debated for years how they were composed and what they reveal about early Greek society. We will examine all facets of these works, along with archaeological evidence, to determine how the Homeric poems can be useful for reconstructing early Greek civilization. Next we will turn to the Argonautica, and see how this Hellenistic poem builds on the Homeric model, but also reflects a very different society, one as far removed as possible from the Homeric warrior culture. From there we will turn to Virgil's Aeneid, the great Roman epic, and see how Virgil builds on his earlier models, but at the same time creates a new epic that reflects Roman values and history, and the propaganda of the Augustan period, a time of immense social and political change in the Mediterranean world.


Book Review: Each student will write a 10 page review of Moses Finley's classic description of Homeric society, the World of Odysseus.  Additional instructions can be found here.

Student Report: Each student will give one ten minute oral reports.  These will be on pieces of modern scholarship relevant to the use of the Homeric epics as historical sources.  Following the class, the student should type up a brief summary of the report and any relevant issues that come up in the discussion afterwards and send it via email to the rest of class and the instructor.  

Final Paper: The final paper can be on a topic of the student's choice. The paper should deal with some element or problem that can be examined in all of the epics we are reading and can help better illuminate their context. For students who do not wish to devise their own topics, I have prepared an assignment which you can find here. Due May 4 at noon.

Class Discussion: Certain class periods are set aside for class discussions. Questions based on the primary sources to get things started can be found here, but feel free to raise other issues or questions on your own. Be prepared to support your answers with specific passages from the texts.  Grading policies for discussions can be found here.

Attendance: Regular attendance is important. I will allow each student to miss up to three classes without penalty to cover things like illness and religious observances. However, I will only allow one absence on a discussion day, except in case of emergencies. Please email me in advance if you are going to miss class. For each absence after the first three, unless there is a serious problem, I will lower the final participation grade by 10 points. If you do have to miss a class, make sure you meet with another student to find out what you missed!

Grade Breakdown:
Book Review: 28%
Student Report: 16%
Final Paper: 28%
Class Discussion: 28%

Reading Materials

Information on Transliterating Greek text 

How to Pronounce Greek

Required Texts:
Fagles, Robert, trans.  Homer: The Iliad.  ISBN 0140445927.
Fagles, Robert, trans.  Homer: The Odyssey.  ISBN 0143039954.
Fagles, Robert, trans.  Virgil: The Aeneid.  ISBN 0143106295.
Finley, Moses.  The World of Odysseus.  ISBN 1590170172.
Green, Peter, trans.  Apollonios Rhodios: The Argonautika, Expanded Edition.  ISBN 0520253930.

Books on Reserve (all listed under HIST 3923H-003):

Bryce, Trevor.  The Trojans and the Neighbors.  2006.
Dickinson, O. T. P. K.  The Aegean from Bronze Age to Iron Age.  2006.
Foley, John Miles.  A Companion to Ancient Epic.  2005
Galinsky, Karl.  The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus.  2005.
Horsfall, Nicholas.  A Companion to the Study of Virgil.  2000.
Hunter, Richard.  The Argonautica of Apollonius.  2004.
Latacz, Joachim.  Troy and the Trojan War.  2004.
Morris, Ian and Barry Powell.  A New Companion to Homer.  2011.
Papanghelis, Theodore D. and Antonios Rengakos.  Brill's Companion to Apollonius Rhodius.  2008.
Schein, Seth.  The Mortal Hero.  1984.
Shelmerdine, Cynthia W.  The Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age.  2008.
Zanker, Paul.  The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus.  1988.

Super resource if you need to look up a person or topic (much better than Wikipedia or other web sources):
The Oxford Classical Dictionary (Off campus link)


Academic Integrity: As a core part of its mission, the University of Arkansas provides students with the opportunity to further their educational goals through programs of study and research in an environment that promotes freedom of inquiry and academic responsibility. Accomplishing this mission is  only possible when intellectual honesty and individual integrity prevail.

Each University of Arkansas student is required to be familiar with and abide by the University’s ‘Academic Integrity Policy’ which may be found at http://provost.uark.edu/245.php. Students with questions about how these policies apply to a particular course or assignment should immediately contact their instructor.

Equal Access: University of Arkansas Academic Policy Series 1520.10 requires that students with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodations to ensure their equal access to course content. If you have a documented disability and require accommodations, please contact me privately at the beginning of the semester to make arrangements for necessary classroom adjustments. Please note, you must first verify your eligibility for these through the Center for Educational Access (contact 479-575-3104 or visit http://cea.uark.edu for more information on registration procedures).

Inclement Weather: Classes will be held unless the University cancels them.

Miscellaneous: Please turn off and put away all cell phones and any other non-course related items and finish any food you might be eating before coming into class. Drinks are acceptable. Please remain seated during class - if you need to use the lavatory, do so before or after class.

Daily Topics and Reading Assignments

Part 1: The Worlds of Homer

Week 1
January 18: Introduction: What is Epic?

January 20: An Introduction to Reading the Homeric Epics / Some Key Terms in Homer
    Iliad 1-2

Week 2
January 23: The Homeric Question
    Iliad 3-4

January 25: Oral Epic as an historical source
    Watch "The Balance of Terror" from 1966
    Iliad 5-6

January 27: Finding the Walls of Troy
    Iliad 7-8

Week 3
January 30: World of the Bronze Age: The Mycenaeans
    Iliad 9-10

February 1: World of the Bronze Age: The Hittites
    Iliad 11-12

February 3: The End of the Bronze Age
    Iliad 13-14
    Oral Report: Assuwa and the Achaeans: The Mycenaean Sword at Hattusas and Its Possible Implications

Week 4
February 6: Discussion: Homeric Society in the Iliad
    Iliad 15-16

February 8: Discussion: Homeric Warfare
    Iliad 17-18
    Oral Report: Weapons and Warfare (from Chadwick, The Mycenaean World) - Zachary Harrod

February 10: Discussion: Gods and Religion in the Iliad
    Iliad 19-20
    Oral Report: Agamemnon's Apology - Jennifer Davenport

Week 5
February 13: Discussion: The Ideology of the Homeric Hero
    Iliad 21-22
    Oral Report: Leaders of Men?  Military Organisation in the Iliad - Cody Schaff

February 15: Discussion: The Iliad: Summing Up
    Iliad 23-24
    Oral Report: Lefkandi and Homer - Cara Turbyfill
    Oral Report: Euboulia in the Iliad - John Erwin

February 17: The Odyssey and Folktale
    Odyssey 1-3
    Oral Report: An Historical Homeric Society? - Max Brinson

Week 6
February 20: Discussion: The Homeric City
    Odyssey 4-5
    Oral Report: Economy and Administration (Chapter 12A in the Cambridge Companion to the Bronze Age) - Justin

February 22: Discussion: Xenia
    Odyssey 6-7
    Oral Report: Reading the texts: Archaeology and the Homeric Questions - Tiffany Montgomery

February 24: Discussion: The Ideology of Competition
    Odyssey 8-9
    Oral Report: Tomb Cult in the Greek Renaissance - Kerby Keller

Week 7
February 27: Homeric Geography
    Odyssey 10-11 
    Oral Report: History Versus the Homeric Iliad: A View from the Ionian Islands - Josh Mills

February 29: Discussion: The Death and Afterlife of the Hero
    Odyssey 12-13
    Oral Report: Death and the Mycenaeans (Chapter 13A in the Cambr. Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age) - Matt Sharum

March 2: Discussion: The Gods and Religion in Odyssey
    Odyssey 14-15
    Oral Report: Mycenaean Religion (Chapter 13B in Cambridge Companion to Aegean Bronze Age) - Sarah Plavcan

Week 8
March 5: Discussion: Homer's Audience
    Odyssey 16-17
    Oral Report: The Iliad, the Odyssey, and Their Audiences - Zachary Cornelius

March 7: Discussion: The Homeric Household & Family
    Odyssey 18-20
    Oral Report: Social Order in the Odyssey - Preston Scrape

March 9: Discussion: The Ideology of the Hero in the Odyssey
    Odyssey 21-22
    Oral Report: Objects with Attitude: Biographical Facts and Fallacies in the Study of LBA/EIA Warrior Graves - Rachael Neville

Week 9
March 12: Discussion: Homeric Women
    Odyssey 23-24
    Oral Report: Reverse Similes and Sex Roles in the Odyssey - Sharon Fox

March 14: Discussion: The Odyssey: Summing Up

March 16: Review of The World of Odysseus due by 12 pm

Spring Break

Part 2: Apollonius and the Armchair Epic

Week 10
March 26: The Greek World After Alexander the Great

March 28: The Birdcage of the Muses
    Argonautica 1

March 30: Discussion: Heroism v. Scholarship
    Argonautica 2

Week 11
April 2: Discussion: Heroism v. Woman
    Argonautica 3

April 4: Discussion: The Argonautica: Summing Up
    Argonautica 4

Part 3: Virgil and the Age of Augustus

April 6: Lecture The Roman Civil Wars and the Rise of Augustus
   Livy Preface and Book 1.1-16, Aeneid 1

Week 12
April 9: Discussion: Kingship in the Aeneid
    Aeneid 2 & 3

April 11: Discussion: Dido & Aeneas
    Aeneid 4

April 13: Discussion: The Funeral Games of Anchises
    Aeneid 5

Week 13
April 16: Discussion: Rome Sneak Preview
    Aeneid 6

April 18: Discussion: The Golden Age of Latinus
    Aeneid 7

April 20: Discussion: The Shield of Aeneas
    Aeneid 8 & 9

Week 14
April 23: The Golden Age of Augustus
    Aeneid 10

April 25: Discussion: The Tragedy of Civil War
    Aeneid 11

April 27: Discussion: The wrath of Aeneas
    Aeneid 12

Week 15
April 30: Aeneid: Summing Up

May 4: Final paper due at 12:00 noon.