Backgrounds of Western Lit

Stories about the great heroes,
heroines, and capricious gods of Classical mythology; the sacred figures of
Biblical lore; the heroic players and tragic lovers of Arthurian legend; the
agonized inhabitants of Dante’s Inferno—these
stories have always evoked an innate fascination.  But beyond their timeless lure, these rich
narratives and intriguing characters have profoundly shaped the development,
not only of past Western literature and art, but also of the cultural expectations
and attitudes that still influence us today. 
This course is intended to familiarize students with the themes, motifs,
genres, and social attitudes generated from these important traditions.



-Frequent in class responses to the readings

-Two midterms

-Two essays

-Final exam

Texts (in order of reading)

Homer, The Odyssey

Aeschylus, Agamemnon

Sophocles, Oedipus the King

Sophocles, Antigone

Ovid, Metamorphoses (selections)

—      , The
(selections from the Old
and the New Testament)

Dante, The Divine Comedy:  “Inferno,”
and short selections from “Purgatory” and “Paradise”

Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur (selections)