En 139

Ancient Greek Epic Poetry

9 units (3-0-6)    |  first term

We will start the term by reading Homer's 'Iliad' (possibly 8th century B.C.) for two weeks. This is a disconnected, strange, and violent poem, which raises the excellent question how it could become a widely revered classic down to our own time. To look for answers--answers that perhaps also apply to any "classic" book-- we will go on to study the acts of interpretation, revision, and recycling that made the 'Iliad' fresh and different, sometimes virtually unrecognizable, for each new generation of readers. We survey surprising ancient Greek philosophical interpretations, a medieval romance by Geoffrey Chaucer set in ancient Troy, a fake Scottish epic poem allegedly composed by "Ossian," Chuck Palahniuk's novel 'Fight Club' (1996), and other works. My suggestion for you will be that the 'Iliad' has remained alive for millennia only through quasi-biological processes of mistranscription, mutation, and nonlinear evolution. Not offered 2022-23.

Instructor: Haugen

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