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Level 5

5AACTL50 Epic Storytelling

Credit value: 15
Module convenor/tutor: Professor Michael Trapp
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2 hour classes (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
 1 x 2 hour exam (100%)

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.

Before the emergence of the prose novel, the major medium for literary storytelling in the ancient world was epic verse. This module offers the chance to study three major verse narrative texts – Homer’s Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid and the Metamorphoses of Ovid - as individual works and as part of a developing tradition.

We will look both at how they set about telling their stories and how they talk about the storytelling process itself – from the true and false tales of Odysseus, the songs of Demodocus and the song of the Sirens, to the virtuoso nesting of stories within stories (within stories) of Ovid.

Suggested introductory reading 

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

For an introduction to the analysis of narrative and storytelling devices, see:

  • I.J.F. de Jong, Narratology and the Classics (OUP 2014)
  • S. Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative Fiction (Routledge 1983)

For introductions to the three texts, see:

  • J. Griffin, Homer. The Odyssey (CUP 1987)
  • K.W. Gransden, Virgil. The Aeneid (CUP 1990)
  • G.K. Galinsky, Ovid's Metamorphoses: an introduction to the basic aspects (Blackwell 1975)
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