Classical Mythology
Department of Classics
Monmouth College

Classical Myth in the Modern World

SCHEDULE of Topics and Activities
FALL Semester 2015

Note: There are no required textbooks for this course. All required readings are available on the internet or will be provided as handouts.



Weekly Writing Assignments Due


Quiz Day

Important References
On Myths and Sisyphean Tasks
Web of Myth

Greek Pantheon 
The Pantheon 
The Major Gods
Genealogical Tables

Chronological Overview

Oct. 21
Powerpoint: What is Myth?
American Heritage Dictionary definition
Greek Mythology in Popular Culture
Greek Mythology Today
Greek Myths in the Modern World

Oct. 23
Greek Myths in the Modern World Cont.
Ovid's Metamorphoses
Phaethon in Ovid's Metamorphoses (Be sure to click NEXT at the bottom of the page to read to the end of the story.)

Writing Assignment due Oct. 26
Suggested Topic: Choose one of the images, videos, etc. show in class on Wed or Fri and discuss how the myth is used. In particular, answer the following questions:
What cultural
Insights does the use of this myth tell us about modern society? What Roles does this myth play in modern society? What Functions does this myth play in modern world?
2 Oct. 26
Phaethon: From Antiquity to the Present
Phaethon and
Folktale Themes

Oct. 28
Ovid Metamorphoses Book I
Focus on Daphne
Study Sheet / Powerpoint

Oct. 30
Daphne Cont.
Writing Assignment due Nov. 2
Suggested Topic: Choose a "modern" (i.e., 1850 date or later) representation of Phaethon or Daphne and discuss how the modern interpretation is similar and/or different from that of Ovid.

Nov. 2
Ovid Metamorphoses Book 2
Focus on Europa
Study Sheet / Powerpoint

Nov. 4
Europa Cont.
Ovid Metamorphoses Book 3
Focus on Echo and Narcissus
Study Sheet / Powerpoint

Nov. 6
Today we created an ecphrasis of the Rape of Europa in class. Here are images (1 / 2/ 3) and a video (!) of this ecphrasis.

Echo and Narcissus Cont.

Writing Assignment due Nov. 9
Write an ecphrasis of any modern (post 1850) representation of Europa and the Bull. Your ecphrasis should be a detailed description of the representation for the benefit of someone who cannot see this representation due to blindness or even just lack of access to a photograph.

Nov. 9
Echo and Narcissus Cont.

Nov. 11
Ovid Metamorphoses Book 4
Focus on Pyramus and Thisbe
Study Sheet / Powerpoint

Nov. 13
Ovid Metamorphoses Book 6 (but also look at the end of Book 5)
Focus on Arachne
Study Sheet / Powerpoint
Writing Assignment due Nov. 16
Use either the myth of Echo and Narcissus or the myth of Pyramis and Thisbe to discuss how the use of different media affects the way the myth is portrayed and interpreted in the modern world. You should consider various media, including artwork, written work, films, music, cartoons, performance art, etc.

Nov. 16
Arachne Cont.

Nov. 18
Arachne Cont.


Nov. 20
 Ovid Metamorphoses Book 8
Also read:
Focus on Pasiphae and the Bull
Study Sheet / Powerpoint
Writing Assignment due Nov. 23
Use a modern image of the Arachne myth or a modern image of the Pyramis and Thisbe myth to illustrate how a modern person understands and interprets the myth.


Nov. 23
Ovid Metamorphoses Book 8
Focus on the Minotaur

Nov. 25
No class

Nov. 27
No class

No Writing Assignment
7 Nov. 30
Be sure to read for today these two articles on the Minotaur (also linked in the Powerpoint):
Picasso and the Minotaur

Martin Ries. Art Journal, winter, 1972/1973, XXXII/2


By Chaim Koppelman

Reprinted from the Journal of the Print World

Dec. 2
Ovid Metamorphoses Book 8
Minotaur and the Labyrinth
Theseus and Ariadne

Dec. 4
Ovid Metamorphoses Book 8

Daedalus and Icarus
Writing Assignment due Dec. 7
Discuss the transformation of the Minotaur from his appearance in Ovidís Metamorphoses to his emergence in the art and literature of 20th-century artists.
Be sure to use the articles by Ries and Koppelman to inform your discussion.      
8 Dec. 7
Bernstock, Judith E. ďClassical Mythology in Twentieth-Century Art:
An Overview of a Humanistic Approach.Ē
Artibus et Historiae 14 (1993): 153-183


Dec. 9
Bernstock Cont.

Monday Dec. 14
Final Meeting 6:30-8:30 P.M.
Here is the topic for your take-home final exam:
Discuss the ways that myths in Ovidís Metamorphoses are transformed in the modern world. Be sure to use a variety of myths and artistic media as points of reference. Your essay should make direct reference to Ovidís poem and to specific features of modern adaptations of the myth. You should discuss how these modern adaptations are similar to and different from Ovidís version. In your conclusion you should reflect on reasons why these myths continue to be attractive to modern artists.

This essay is due at the final meeting, but if you hand it in by noon on Sunday, December 13, you will know your course grade at the end of this meeting.
Class Presentation at Final Meeting:
At the final meeting you will each give a ten-minute summary of the conclusions you made in your final essay. For this presentation you should choose one modern adapation for each of three myths from Ovid to use as points of reference for your discussion. Be sure to send Prof. Sienkewicz any images in advance so they can be shared with the class. 
  Ovid Metamorphoses Book 9
Focus on Hercules
Ovid Metamorphoses Book 10
Focus on Pygmalion and on Venus and Adonis
Ovid Metamorphoses Book 11
Focus on Midas and Orpheus
Ovid Metamorphoses Book 12
Focus on Centaurs
Ovid Metamorphoses Book 13
Focus on Ulysseus
Ovid Metamorphoses Book 14
Focus on Polyphemus

This 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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