CLAS230 Classical Mythology: Aftermath of the Trojan War


CLAS 230-01: Classical Mythology: Aftermath of the Trojan War (.5 Credit)

MEETING DAYS, TIMES, AND PLACE: MWF, 10:00-10:50, Wallace 114, for the second half of the semester



Dr. Robert Holschuh Simmons

Office: 21 Wallace Hall

Office Phone:  309-457-2378


Office Hours: Monday-Friday 11-11:50 AM, and by appointment.





This course is designed for anyone interested in analyzing literary portrayals of characters whose lives were significantly affected by the Trojan War, including individuals who may be suffering from what we now understand as post-traumatic stress.  It will be particularly well-suited for students who like to be intellectually active and interactive—much of the value in this course will come through students’ engagement with texts and other course material through discussion and class activities. 



The stories of people’s lives in the aftermath of the Trojan War are much like those of contemporary soldiers and their families when they return from war. For Odysseus, there was a long, complicated journey before he reached his home in Ithaca, where he found that domestic life could be just as complex and dangerous as warfare. For Menelaus and Helen, there was the challenge of putting their marriage back together after a betrayal and a long separation.  For Agamemnon, there were people back home in Mycenae who remembered the offenses that he had committed before he sailed away for the war, and there was a reckoning to be paid for them.  For Aeneas, there was the strain of leading a band of refugees on an uncertain journey to a new home after their home in Troy was destroyed.


Classical Mythology: Aftermath of the Trojan War will explore the stress and anxiety of a return from war through ancient Greeks’ and Romans’ stories of the dramas that followed the Trojan War’s end.  Among the works we will read, in whole or in part, are Vergil’s Aeneid, Euripides’ Trojan Women, Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, and Homer’s Odyssey.   This class fulfills half of the Beauty and Meaning in Works of Art requirement, and can be used toward majors in Classics, Latin, or Greek. 


One caution: this course will be dealing with a number of topics that were prominent parts of Greek and Roman life through the centuries, some of which may make certain people uncomfortable.  Among things that may make some students uncomfortable about our readings, video clips, and other ideas presented and/or discussed in class are the following: violent behavior in the readings and in some video clips; the idea of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a possible explanation for some characters’ behavior in these ancient works; portrayals of ancient slavery in our readings; and ancient stereotypes of sexes and cultures that come up in our readings.  While I will do my best to make our discussions inclusive, kind, and academic, some of the content of this course may not be ideal for students who are particularly sensitive to the sorts of matters mentioned above.  If you take issue with any of the material or discussions in this course, please contact me.


Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to do the following, and more:

1)      Know a wide range of aspects of the Trojan War’s aftermath, both as a rich source of mythological stories and as an event that may have been used to capture ancient Greeks’ and Romans’ sense of the impact of war on many people’s lives well after the battles have been fought.

2)      Know aspects of the lives of a number of the mortals and gods who were included in stories of the Trojan Wars’ aftermath.

3)      Know the primary sources (literary, artistic, and archaeological) from which we understand the stories of characters’ lives following the Trojan War as we do.

4)      Analyze those primary sources in speech and writing to understand them as literature and as documents of their times and cultural contexts.

5)      Examine social, cultural, and historical factors influencing the use and interpretation of different aspects of the stories of the Trojan War’s aftermath over several centuries.

6)      Explain connections and overlaps in understanding of the Trojan War’s aftermath in the ancient and modern worlds.



1)      Think critically about the Classical World, including knowing what questions to ask and how to answer them.

3)  Know the broad overview of Greek and Roman history (the difference between the Republic and Imperial periods, for example), the values prevailing within each culture and period, and the factors that led to changes in the political, social, and economic structures.

4)  Be familiar with Classical literature, including the major authors, genres, groupings, and relationship of literature to history and culture.

5)  Understand the role of Classics in the modern world.




This will be a highly active and interactive class.  We will be spending a lot of time talking and writing about the things we have read and otherwise learned for, and in, class.  Thus it is critical that you be willing to take active part in class, both intellectually and physically.  To do the best job in carrying out class activities, it will be important for you to be well prepared for each class.  Therefore, a significant part of your grade will come from your participation in class and your preparation for it.  Your grade in this category will be based on a combination of my observations and notes and your own assessment of your performance in this area. 


To help both you and me keep up with your preparation and participation throughout the semester, you will have your own Preparation and Participation (P&P) folder that contains a self-assessment instrument.  At the end of each class period, you will assess your own participation based on, for example, your level of preparation for class, the quantity and quality of your contributions to class discussion, etc.  I will review your self-assessments and, if needed, alter them to reflect my assessment of your participation based on observation and evidence.  At one or more points in the class, you may need to provide an overall assessment of your preparation and participation based on your daily logs.  At the end of the term, I will average the daily scores and incorporate your written assessments to determine the final Preparation and Participation grade.



Because attendance is crucial to your success, and because our class meetings are where a great deal of the course’s value comes, I will hold you to a high standard of attendance.  You may occasionally, however, need to miss a class for illness or other reasons.  Thus you will not be penalized for your first two absences, whatever the reason for them.  If you miss more than two classes, however, your grade or status in the class will be affected according to the following parameters:

Normally, the two-absence cushion should account for matters outside of your control that would keep you from attending class, so the third one, even if it could be excusable on its own, serves as the consequence for classes missed previously that were within your control, and it underscores the importance of your being present: any absence, for whatever the reason, detracts from your learning in the class.  However, I recognize that a person can, at times, run into circumstances that can keep her or him out of class on several occasions without any fault on the student’s part.  If your first two absences were all due to debilitating or contagious illness, family emergency, mandatory religious obligation, or participation in an authorized College activity (for any of which I may require documentation), I will not penalize you for a third absence either, if that also was precipitated by one of those circumstances.  For absences beyond the first two that you believe should be excused, you should contact me beforehand if you are in position to know about the absences in advance (such as if you have a mandatory religious or College obligation); if the absence is the result of an emergency, you should notify me within three days of the missed class.  Please speak with me if you have a different reason for your absence that you think may be excusable.  I will be the sole arbiter as to whether an absence will be considered excused.  Further details:


quizzes and In-Class Writing:

Because it is critical that people are well-prepared for class in order for the discussions and other activities we will do in class to work out, I will regularly have you either take a short quiz or write for a few minutes in response to the reading you were assigned and the questions accompanying it.  MISSED QUIZZES AND WRITING ASSIGNMENTS MAY NOT BE MADE UP, unless you have missed such an assessment for reasons that were fully justifiable and over which you had no control.  (I will be the one who determines whether your circumstance justifies any mercy.)  However, I will drop students’ two lowest scores, including missed assignments, in tabulating their final grade. 



There will be one exam, covering assigned readings and the content of class activities, discussions, and lectures, including visual images.  Missed exams may be made up only if missed for one of the following reasons, and only with appropriate documentation: debilitating illness, family emergency, mandatory religious obligation, or participation in authorized College activities.  Please speak with me if you have a different reason for your absence that you think may be excusable.  You must make every effort to contact me before the exam if a make-up is necessary, and you must take the make-up exam within five class days of the scheduled date. 



You will undertake one project (most likely alone, although some projects may be justifiable with partners) in which you will demonstrate your mastery of significant aspects of the course through writing and perhaps other means as well.   The project will likely be along the lines of a story in which you highlight the impact of a war experience on a character whose processing of that experience is not detailed in our texts for the class.  Specific details of this assignment will be forthcoming.  You will hand in and present your work (in brief form) during our final exam meeting, on Sat., May 6, from 3-6 PM.


Grade Breakdown:      Preparation and participation       20%

                                                Quizzes and in-class writing         20%

                                                Exam                                            30%

                                                Project                                          30%


Percentage/Grade Equivalents:

98+   = A+     87-89 = B+     77-79 = C+     67-69 = D+    59 and below = F

93-97 = A       83-86 = B        73-76 = C        63-66 = D      

90-92 = A-      80-82 = B-      70-72 = C-      60-62 = D-



Homer, Odyssey, translated by Stanley Lombardo (Hackett, 2000).

Several more texts that are, or will be, posted on Moodle.


course engagement expectations:

This course is scheduled to meet 3 days per week for 50 minutes each for seven weeks.  You should expect to spend on course reading, homework, preparation of discussion questions, etc. approximately two hours outside of class for every hour in class. Assigned activities may take each student a different amount of time to finish; however, the weekly average for all students in the course for those matters and class meetings should be 7.5 hours.  Intensive studying for exams and preparation for your project will be in addition to the standard weekly preparation, but will likely average out to an extra four hours per week.  The time estimates for the course thus break down as follows:


            In class activities                                                                                 2.5 hours

            Homework, review of course material, and class preparation             5.0 hours

            Intensive studying and preparing for the project (averaged out)          4.0 hours

Average per week:                                                                               11.5 hours


class behavior Expectations:

To maintain a classroom environment in which everyone can learn, please show the respect and courtesy to others that you would expect in turn.  Here are a few of the ways in which you can show respect and courtesy:

·        Be in your seat on time for class, and remain for the duration of each class.

·        Have a notebook, pen, and relevant materials out and ready to use throughout class.

·        Be ready to answer questions about the day’s homework and other relevant subjects, to work on in-class assignments individually and with peers, and to share your work in small groups with the whole class.

·        Remain quiet while I or others in class are speaking.

·        Show support for those who speak in class by your demeanor and body language.

·        Focus on the content of the class, not on personal electronic devices; all such items should be turned off and packed away during class, unless they are being used for class matters, in a way that is not distracting to your classmates or me.

·        You may eat and drink in class, but only if it is not distracting to other students or me.


E-mail Courtesies:

When sending me e-mail, please observe the following courtesies:

·        Begin the message with a salutation of some sort (Dr. Simmons, Prof. Simmons, Mr. Simmons, etc.).

·        Include a reasonably accurate subject line.

·        Capitalize and punctuate where appropriate, and proofread to make sure that you are communicating clearly.

·        At the end of the message, please identify yourself by the name by which I know you (first name or nickname).

I will get back to you as soon as I can.  Sometimes a response will be immediate; on other occasions it may take me several hours, and quite possibly a full day if you write late in the day, at night, or on a weekend, if I need to give some thought to a response before providing one, or if I simply have other things I need to get done before I can get to e-mails.


Special Needs: 

Anyone who has a special need that may require some modification of seating, testing, or other class requirements should see me as soon as possible.  I will be pleased to make the appropriate arrangements in consultation with you.  Depending on the modification, you may need to be registered with Disability Support Services.   


Disability Support Services:

If you have a disability or had academic accommodations in high school or another college, you may be eligible for academic accommodations at Monmouth College under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Monmouth College is committed to equal educational access.  Students with disabilities can apply for accommodations at the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC). The TLC is located on the 2nd floor of Poling Hall. For more information, call 309-457-2257 or connect online at


Academic honesty: 

From the Monmouth College Academic Honesty Policy:  “We view academic dishonesty as a threat to the integrity and intellectual mission of our institution. Any breach of the academic honesty policy – either intentionally or unintentionally – will be taken seriously and may result not only in failure in the course, but in suspension or expulsion from the college.  It is each student’s responsibility to read, understand and comply with the general academic honesty policy at Monmouth College, as defined here in the Scots Guide, and to the specific guidelines for each course, as elaborated on the professor’s syllabus.


“The following areas are examples of violations of the academic honesty policy: 


  1. Cheating on tests, labs, etc;
  2. Plagiarism, i.e., using the words, ideas, writing, or work of another without giving appropriate credit;
  3. Improper collaboration between students, i.e., not doing one’s own work on outside assignments specified as group projects by the instructor;
  4. Submitting work previously submitted in another course, without previous authorization by the instructor.


Please note that this list is not intended to be exhaustive.”


The complete Monmouth College Academic Honesty Policy can be found on the College web page by clicking on “Student Life” then on “Student Handbook” in the navigation bar on the top of the page, then “Academic Regulations” in the navigation bar at the left.  Or you can visit the web page directly by typing in this URL:


In this course, any violation of the academic honesty policy will have varying consequences depending on the severity of the infraction as judged by the instructor.  Minimally, a violation will result in an “F” or 0 points on the assignment in question. Additionally, the student’s course grade may be lowered by one letter grade.  In severe cases, the student will be assigned a course grade of “F” and dismissed from the class.  All cases of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Associate Dean, who may decide to recommend further action to the Admissions and Academic Status Committee, including suspension or dismissal.  It is assumed that students will educate themselves regarding what is considered to be academic dishonesty, so excuses or claims of ignorance will not mitigate the consequences of any violations.


Help outside of class:

You should not hesitate to talk with me about any difficulties you are having—this course is challenging, and I want to help you do the best you can at it.  Speak with me as soon as you are having trouble; letting a problem fester is likely to make it worse.  Also, there is help available at the locations below. 


Teaching & Learning Center:
The Teaching and Learning Center offers FREE resources to assist Monmouth College students with their academic success. Programs include Supplemental Instruction for difficult classes, drop-in and appointment tutoring, and individual academic coaching. The TLC is here to help students excel academically. TLC services are not just for struggling students, but can assist all students to get better grades, practice stronger study skills, and manage time.


Visit Kam Williams (Director of Academic Support Programs and Student Disability Services) and Rita Schwass (TLC secretary) at the TLC on 2nd floor Poling Hall from 8am-4:30pm or online at  Kam can be reached at or 309-457-2214, and Rita can be reached at or 309-457-2213.  Like the TLC on Facebook:

Writing Center:

The Monmouth College Writing Center offers unlimited, free peer tutoring sessions for students at Monmouth College.  Peer writing tutors work with writers from any major, of any writing ability, on any type of writing assignment, and at any stage of their writing processes, from planning to drafting to revising to editing.  It is located on the 3rd floor of the Mellinger Teaching and Learning Center, and we are open Sunday-Thursday 7-10pm and Monday-Thursday 3-5pm on a first-come, first-served basis.  No appointment necessary!  Learn more about the Writing Center at its website:


Daniel Hintzke ( is also available to do individual writing tutoring in Classics.  Please contact him to set up a time for individual assistance.


Speech Tutors:

Speech Tutors are available on a limited basis in the Writing Center to work with students who are preparing for a presentation in any course.  Speech Tutors can help fine-tune thesis statements, review outlines, suggest organizational strategies, provide feedback about visual aids, help students develop ways to manage speech anxiety, and watch speech practice sessions.  For information about tutor availability, visit the Writing Center’s website at


Schedule of Assignments:

Note: The assignments below are due on the days on which they are listed.  If there is no other instruction given, you are to do the following:


Day 1 (Monday, March 13)

Assignment due today:

·     Introduction to the class and the material of Wednesday’s assignment


Tuesday, March 14

·     Not required, but worth extra credit if you attend and write up a 250-word summary/response:


Day 2 (Wednesday, March 15)

Refugees from a lost war searching for a new homeland

Assignment due today:

·     Vergil, Aeneid pp. 1-21 (Book 1, lines 1-741) (on Moodle)


Day 3 (Friday, March 17)

The suffering of women in the wake of war

Assignment due today:

·     Euripides, Trojan Women pp. 117-147 (lines 1-712) (on Moodle)

·     Not required, but I would be happy to see you there:


Day 4 (Monday, March 20)

The suffering of women, children, and those required to act against them in the wake of war

Assignment due today:

·     Euripides, Trojan Women pp. 147-175 (lines 713-1397) (on Moodle)


Tuesday, March 21

·     Not required, but worth extra credit if you attend and write up a 250-word summary/response:


Day 5 (Wednesday, March 22)

The returns of warriors from war

Assignment due today:

·     Homer, Odyssey pp. 28-34 (Book 3, lines 1-221) and pp. 44-61 (Book 4, lines 1-617)

·     Optional, but worth extra credit if you attend and write a 250-word summary/response:

·        7:30 P.M., Pattee Auditorium, CSB


Thursday, March 23

·     Optional, but worth extra credit if you attend and write a 250-word summary/response:

·        “The Mouliana Project: Late Minoan Warrior Grave Artifacts from the Bronze Age Collapse,” Andrew J. Koh, Assistant Professor Department of Classical Studies, Brandeis University (

·        7:30 P.M., Ferris Lounge, Seymour Hall, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois


Day 6 (Friday, March 24)

The impact back home of war abroad

Assignment due today:

·     Aeschylus, Agamemnon pp. 3-21 (lines 1-502) (on Moodle)


Friday, March 24-Sunday, March 26

·     Annual national meeting of Eta Sigma Phi, the undergraduate Classics honorary society, Ann Arbor, MI


Day 7 (Monday, March 27)

The impact of war-time offenses on the homeland in peacetime

Assignment due today:

·     Aeschylus, Agamemnon pp. 21-40 (lines 503-1047) (on Moodle)


Day 8 (Wednesday, March 29)

Violence at home in response to the violence of war

Assignment due today:

·     Aeschylus, Agamemnon pp. 40-66 (lines 1048-1672) (on Moodle)


Day 9 (Friday, March 31)

Ancient Greek war stories as reflections of post-traumatic stress?

Assignment due today:

·     Jonathan Shay, “The Birth of Tragedy--Out of the Needs of Democracy” (on Moodle)

·     Jason Crowley, “Beyond the Universal Soldier: Combat Trauma in Classical Antiquity” (on Moodle)


Day 10 (Monday, April 3)

(Formally) introducing Odysseus

Assignment due today:

·     Homer, Odyssey pp. 1-4 (Book 1, lines 1-102) and pp. 70-86 (Book 5, lines 1-501, and Book 6, lines 1-48)

·     Optional, but worth extra credit if you attend and write a one-page summary/response:

·        “Sacrifices to Spectacles: Intangible Expressions of Naval Victory and their Importance,” Kristian Lorenzo, Visiting Assistant Professor, Hollins University (

·        7:30 P.M., Pattee Auditorium, CSB


Tuesday, April 4:

·     Optional, but worth extra credit if you attend and write a one-page summary/response:


Day 11 (Wednesday, April 5)

The first social test of a returning warrior

Assignment due today:

·     Homer, Odyssey:

·        pp. 88-90 (Book 6, lines 109-202),

·        pp. 92-93 (Book 6, lines 258-281),

·        pp. 93-94 (Book 6, lines 299-339),

·        pp. 95-96 (Book 7, lines 15-59),

·        pp. 97-105 (Book 7, lines 82-366), and

·        pp. 106-113 (Book 8, lines 1-275).


Thursday, April 6-Saturday, April 8

Annual Meeting of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Kitchener, ON, Canada


Friday, April 7

·        NO CLASS—CAMWS Professional Conference


Day 12 (Monday, April 10)

The transition from wartime behavior to peacetime behavior

Assignment due today:

·     Homer, Odyssey:

·        pp. 121-124 (Book 8, lines 519-632),

·        pp. 125-140 (Book 9, lines 1-561), and

·        pp. 141-145 (Book 10, lines 1-148).


Day 13 (Wednesday, April 12)

Gathering intelligence for the return

Assignment due today:

·     Homer, Odyssey:

·        pp. 145-157 (Book 10, lines 149-597),

·        pp. 158-164 (Book 11, lines 1-227),

·        p. 167 (Book 11, lines 337-341),

·        pp. 168-171 (Book 11, lines 372-479), and

·        p. 177 (Book 11, lines 671-675).


Friday, April 14-Monday, April 17



Day 14 (Wednesday, April 19)

The monstrosity of wartime experience

Assignment due today:

·     Homer, Odyssey:

·        pp. 178-191 (Book 12, lines 1-471),

·        pp. 192-195 (Book 13, lines 1-128),

·        pp. 198-201 (Book 13, lines 194-302), and

·        pp. 203-205 (Book 13, lines 386-457).


Day 15 (Friday, April 21)

Testing people back home

Assignment due today:

·     Homer, Odyssey:

·        pp. 245-246 (Book 16, lines 164-203),

·        pp. 256-257 (Book 17, lines 1-30),

·        pp. 261-263 (Book 17, lines 194-260),

·        pp. 266-270 (Book 17, lines 364-506),

·        pp. 272-274 (Book 17, lines 549-624),

·        pp. 291-302 (Book 19, lines 54-435), and

·        pp. 307-308 (Book 19, lines 625-645).


Day 16 (Monday, April 24)


Assignment due today:

·     Homer, Odyssey:

·        pp. 322-335 (Book 21, lines 1-463) and

·        pp. 336-346 (Book 22, lines 1-352).


Tuesday, April 25



Day 17 (Wednesday, April 26)

Assignment due today:



Thursday, April 27

·     Optional, but worth extra credit if you attend and write a one-page summary/response:

·        “Monmouth College Archaeology Research Laboratory: Annual Report”

·        Kyle Jazwa, Lecturer in Archaeology, Monmouth College (

·        7:30 P.M., Pattee Auditorium, Center for Science and Business 100.


Day 18 (Friday, April 28)

Assignment due today:

·     Plan of course project due


Day 19 (Monday, May 1)

Assignment due today:

·   Draft of course project due


Day 20 (Wednesday, May 3)

Assignment due today:

·   Revised draft of course project due


Sat., May 6