updated: Aug. 21, 2017


Gilgamesh; Egyptian Poetry; Iliad; Odyssey; Oedipus, the King

The Divine Comedy: Inferno



Week 5

Week 9

Week 13

Week 2

Week 6

Week 10

Week 14

Week 3

Week 7

Week 11

Week 15

Week 4

Week 8

Week 12

Week 16

Week 1 Aug. 28-Sept. 1

M: Introduction to the class, syllabus, weekly assignments. Introduction to Mesopotamia and Gilgamesh: timeline, maps

W: Gilgamesh: Tablets 1-5, pp. 99-124; archaeology, slides

F: Gilgamesh: Tablets 1-5


Week 2  Sept. 4-8

M:  Labor Day, no class

W: Gilgamesh: Tablets 6-11, pp. 124-151;  Response paper 1 due: What is the good advice given to Gilgamesh by two characters he meets during his travels at the end of the epic.

F: Egyptian culture: read handouts; slides and discussion
  Ancient Egyptian Poetry, pp. 41-52


Week 3 Sept. 11-15

M: Introduction to Iliad: map of Europe, Greece, plot and names, archaeology, slides of Troy, timeline, slides Mycenae and Crete

W: Heroic Code, Sin vs. Shame cultures, read Book I, The Rage of Achilles, Iliad; What do Achilles and Agamemnon sound like? How would you characterize their "conversation"? Why does Homer begin where he does? Discussion of Homer and the culture that created the Iliad

F: Iliad, Book VI, Hector Returns to Troy (begin with line 154); Response paper 2 due: compare Achilles to Hector. How are they different?


Week 4 Sept. 18-22

M: Book IX, The Embassy to Achilles. What is Achilles's reaction to the ransom?

W: Book XVI, Patroclus Fights and Dies.

F: Book XVIII, The Shield of Achilles (end your reading at line 415)


Week 5 Sept. 25-29

M: Book XXII, The Death of Hector.

For discussion in class: Is Achilles's anger normal or excessive? Why?

W: Achilles and Priam: Book XXIV. Response paper 3 due: Has Achilles reentered the world of civilized behavior? In what ways?

F: Odyssey, Book I (Telemachos and the suitors); Book V (Odysseus on Kalypso's island)


Week 6 Oct. 2-6

M: VIII (Odysseus has been shipwrecked on the island of the Phaiakians; he is wined and dined and encouraged to tell the story of his adventures.)

W: Odyssey, Books IX-XII (chronological recounting of Odysseus's adventures since leaving Troy); Response paper 4 due: What are the taboos that Odysseus encounters in his adventures? Why does Homer feel it is important for Odysseus to experience these behaviors?

F: Continue discussion of Odysseus's travels


Week 7 Oct. 9-13

M: XXII-XXIV; Response paper 5 due: What progress has been made from the days of the Iliad? How is the nature of the violence different in Odyssey from the violence in Iliad?

W: Introduction to Greek drama; discussion of 5th century B.C. Athens; slides of Greek theaters, architecture, the Parthenon, sculpture, pottery

F: watch the film in class, Oedipus the King (PA 4414 07 T39 2004dvd) by Sophocles, 120 minutes


Week 8 Oct. 16-20 (Oct. 20, last day to withdraw)

M: continue the film

W: continue the film

F:  Oct. 20. Mid-Term Exam due. Topic for the Mid-Term: Trace the development of the hero in Gilgamesh, Iliad, and The Odyssey. Concentrate on how the heroes become more evolved, offering new ideas for their societies.

Checklist for grading: 

_____Focuses on the topic:

_____Develops ideas well

_____Needs more development, more explanation

_____Writes on all the texts in the prompt

_____Supports the analysis with quotations from the texts

_____Good grammar and diction


Week 9 Oct. 23-27

M: A look at other world civilizations: art from China, India, and Africa

Time line.

W: Introduction to the medieval world: cosmology; painting, architecture, social structures, music.

F: Introduction to the medieval world: cosmology; painting, architecture, social structures, music.


Week 10 Oct. 30-Nov. 3

M: Medieval ideas: courtly love; the influence of Augustine and Aquinas.
Introduction to Dante, his biography, explanation of allegory.

W: Dante, Inferno, Cantos I-XI (Circles 1-6).

F: Inferno, Cantos I-XI (Circles 1-6).


Week 11 Nov. 6-10

M: Dante, Inferno, Cantos XII-XVII (Circle 7).

Example of the exam on Dante

Study guide

W: Discussion of Circle 8; pictures by Dore, Botticelli, Blake.  Circle 8: fraud, malice, false counselors. Ulysses, a tongue of flame, is the Roman name for Odysseus. Read his speech to Dante, pp. 1914-1916

F: Read Cantos XXX-XXXIV (Circle 9)

Response paper 6: What is Dante's reaction to the sinners in circle nine?


Week 12 Nov. 13-17

M: Nov. 13. Dante quiz, extra credit.

Introduction to the Renaissance.  Cathedral movie

W: Introduction to the Renaissance.  Cathedral movie

F: Introduction to Shakespeare. Globe movie.


Week 13 Nov. 20-24 (Wed. Thanksgiving Holiday)


M: Hamlet, Act I; see film in class

W: Thanksgiving Holiday, no class

F: No class


Week 14 Nov. 27-Dec. 1

M:  Act II

W: Act III



Week 15 Dec. 4-8

M: Act V 

Essay due, Dec. 4: 

Topic: It is certainly no coincidence that Hamlet's university is the University of Wittenberg, the university of Martin Luther, who broke with the Catholic Church, destroying the neat hierarchical power structure of the medieval world and forcing on the individual the burden of figuring out the bible and the meaning of God's world.

The play, Hamlet, was written in 1601; Galileo's findings were not published until 1609, but the word was out among the intelligentsia of the age that there was proof the earth not at the center of God's universe.

Hamlet is the first fictional character to show the effects of Galileo and Martin Luther. Argue that Hamlet is a "modern" man. Use the "old" medieval world, as you know it from your study of Dante, as a foil to the "modern" world of the Renaissance.

See Syllabus on guidelines for writing the essay.

W: Discussion of play and essays.

F: Conferences


Week 16  Dec. 11-15 (Final Exam Week)

Take-home exam due Fri., Dec. 15 at 12 p.m. sharp.

 Be sure you support your argument with textual evidence (quotations):

2) Analyze these relationships in view of the meaning of the play, Hamlet.

Father/ child relationships

Hamlet to ghost/father; Hamlet to his uncle, Claudius
Laertes to Polonius
Ophelia to Polonius
Fortinbras to Fortinbras, Sr.; Fortinbras to his uncle, "Old Norway"