CLAS230 Classical Mythology
Department of Classics
Monmouth College

A Course Description

Classical Mythology is a survey of ancient Greek and Roman stories about heroes, gods and the universe and illustrates the influence of these myths on the art, literature and culture of the modern world. Each time it is offered, the course approaches the topic from a different theme and considers answers to such timeless questions as:

What is deity? What is a hero?
What is a human being?
What is the relationship of human to god?
What is a myth? What is history?
Why are myths told?
How does recollection of the past affect the way humans live in the present?

The Greeks and Romans ask and answer much the same questions that we pose today. Their myths are not just stories, but represent serious attempts to explain the world around us. Study of these ancient myths forces us to reevaluate our own questions and answers, our own way of looking at the world, and our place in it.

The myths of the Greeks and Romans can be examined from several perspectives:

(1) in their ancient context, as expressed in the literature and art of the Greeks and Romans;
(2) in the context of Western civilization, as themes in later Western literature and art;
(3) in the context of comparative mythology, selected myths will be compared with stories from other cultures, especially from the Bible;
(4) in the context of modern myth theory, several different contemporary theories of myths, including those of Malinowski, Freud, and Levi-Strauss, will be discussed.

This course thus presents a truly inter-disciplinary approach which considers literary and artistic themes from such diverse perspectives as theology, sociology, anthropology, and history.

Some recent topics in this course have included "The Heroic Journey," "Women in Myth," and "Creation Stories Around the World."

The following material has been published on the web by Prof. Tom Sienkewicz for his students at Monmouth College. If you have any questions, you can contact him at

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