Show/hide main menu

Level 5

5AACTL05 Narrative Literature in Antiquity

Credit value: 30
Module convenor/tutor: Professor Michael Trapp
Teaching pattern: 20 x 2-hour class (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 3-hour examination

Assessment for Graduate Diploma students only

Assessment: 2 x 4,000-word essays (100%, essays worth 50% each)

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

Students are required to attend all the classes and to submit written work as prescribed.

The category of 'narrative literature' in the ancient world includes both prose and verse texts, both texts purporting to give true accounts of events and self-proclaimed fictions. The common elements that unite them are that they all tell stories, as opposed to presenting them in the form of drama, and that they tell stories, as opposed to teaching lessons (didactic), or arguing cases (oratory, philosophy). This course offers the chance to read (in English translation) a set of Greek and Latin narrative texts, spanning the period from the seventh or eighth century B.C. to the third or fourth century A.D., and to study their structure and dynamics, both individually and as part of a developing tradition.

Topics to be discussed include: the structure of large-scale story-telling; stories-within-stories; variations in viewpoint and narrative voice; Intertextuality in narrative (especially the ways in which later texts appropriate, "rewrite" or even reject the models borrowed from the Homeric epics); audience response ('inside' and 'outside' the narrative); truth, lies and fiction; eroticised narrative; "theatricalised" narrative; narrative and character; narrative tropes ( eg. similes; long-winded descriptions, etc).

NB No knowledge of Greek or Latin is required. ALL the texts will be read in English translation throughout.

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

  • Homer, The Odyssey (transl. R. Lattimore);
  • Virgil, The Aeneid (transl. West, Penguin Classics);
  • Catullus, Poem 64 (transl. G. Lee, Oxford World's Classics);
  • Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica (Transl. R. Hunter, Oxford World's Classics);
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses (transl. Penguin Classics or Oxford World's Classics);
  • Heliodorus' Ethiopian Story in B.P. Reardon (ed), Collected Ancient Greek Novels (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London 1989)
  • S.Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative Fiction (London 1983), chs 1,2, 4 and 6.
  • G. Genette, Narrative Discourse (Ithaca and London 1980)
  • M. Bal, Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative, 2nd ed., University of Toronto Press 1997.
Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454