ISSI402 Classical Mythology and Religion
Spring, 2002

NOTE:  One advantage of a web-based schedule is that it can be adjusted frequently according to class progress. Students are advised to consult this page regularly for changes.

Part I Introduction to Myth and Religion
Jan. 15 Course Introductions
Discussion of Issues and Ideas Rubric. See the Monmouth College Curriculum.
Question: What should an Issues and Ideas course be like?
Assignment: Apply for a personal website from the MC Information Systems Office by clicking on "Computer Assistant" on the Desktop. Then click on the "Help" tab. Then select "Apply for a Personal Webpage" and follow the instructions. When the IS office sends you the address of your webpage, please e-mail it to the instructor. This web address must be received by the instructor by Jan. 24th.
Jan. 17 Issues and Ideas, Myth and Religion
Use these study questions to prepare for class discussion of ISSI courses. Assignment: Write a reflection on the Monmouth College Curriculum and this ISSI course. Due Jan. 22nd.
What are "myth" and "religion"? Look especially at the discussion of the meaning of the word "myth" in The Web of Myth Theory. Also Myth and Religion: Some Definitions
Jan. 22 Cleanthes' "Hymn to Zeus", images of Zeus; Anthropomorphism and Xenophanes of Colophon. Look here especially at the fragments called satires: Xenophanes' Fragments. Prayer / Lord's Prayer
Question: How is the Hymn to Zeus a prayer? How is it like the Lord's Prayer? How is the prayer "myth"? How is it "religion"? To what extant does your god have anthropomorphic features?
Assignment: Compare Cleanthes' hymn to a prayer which is important to you personally. Due Jan. 29th.
Jan. 24 Homeric Hymns and Polytheism
Preface and introduction to Athanassakis. See Homeric Hymns
See Polytheism, A Brief Survey of Christian Polytheism, and Islam and Polytheism. The Pantheon / Greek Pantheon / Classical Myths: The Ancient Sources. Also read review of A World Full of Gods  by Keith Hopkins (available in Public Documents under All Public Folders/Departments/Academics/Classics/ISSI402). Here is a quote from Hopkins: "But I wanted to recover the passion of that time. Re-create the confusion of voices. Think of it: Religion absolutely everywhere. Gods and goddesses and demons and nightmares, and sex mixed up into all of it. Christianity must have seemed so strange, so absurd to good, decent pagans."
Question: What do these introductory materials tell you about the Homeric Hymns? What are the advantages and disadvantages of polytheism vs. monotheism?
Jan. 29 Homeric Hymn 23 (Zeus) and the Sacrifice of Prometheus
See Prometheus (and Hesiod's Theogony, 508-544 and 545-565). Prometheus Bound. Also Catalogue of Greek Animal Sacrifice and Summary
Questions: How is the Homeric Hymn to Zeus similar to Cleanthes' Hymn? How is it different? In what ways are the Cleanthes and Homeric hymns to Zeus myth? In what ways are they religion? How is Prometheus' sacrifice a form of worship? How is it a trick? Compare Greek animal sacrifice to modern forms of religious sacrifice.
Class discussion: What prayer did you compare to the Hymn to Zeus? Why?

Assignment: Write a personal reflection on religion. Due Feb. 5th.
Click here for some helpful questions. Click here for Prof. Sienkewicz' personal statement. 
Part II Greek and Roman Religion
Jan. 31 Human Sacrifice
Read the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 12-22 and the sacrifice of Iphigenia. Also Iphigenia as sacrificial victim. Review of Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece. Minoan Religion (focus on Anemospilia). Anemospilia.
Feb. 5 Class discussion of personal reflections
Feb. 7 
Website Development Period in Trotter Computer Lab
Ms. Marcie Beintema of the MC Information Systems Office will conduct a session about getting started with your personal website. Use this website template as a model. 
Feb. 12 Class discussion of personal reflections Cont.
Feb. 14
Introduction to Roman Religion
Theories on the Origin of Religion; Also read pp. 22-27 of Nagle. Additional materials: Some Definitions / Beginnings of Religion / Roman Divinities in Archaic Period /  Religio Romana
Questions: What do the documents dealing with the sources of Roman religion suggest to you about the Romans and their religious beliefs? Why do you think humans have developed religious beliefs? What purposes does religion serve in human life? 
Feb. 19 Roman Religion Cont.
Look for characteristics of Roman Religion described in Some Notes on Roman Religion in the documents found in the Sources of Roman Religion.
Assignment: Write a reflection on these characteristics and compare them to modern religious views. Due Feb. 21
Feb. 21 Ovid's Fasti: Introduction; January  Bellini's Feast of the Gods
Read preface and introduction to Nagle. See Ovid's Fasti Overview / Fasti Outline  / Fasti I: January / The Roman Calendar / Christian Liturgical Calendar
Questions: How is the Fasti organized? What were Ovid's purposes in writing this poem? How is it religious? Why do the Romans sacrifice an ass to the god Priapus? Why does Ovid tell this story? What does Ovid tell you about the emperor's attitude towards religion? How does a Christian artist like Bellini use the ancient deities? To what extent is our calendar religious?
Feb. 26  Apollo and Artemis
Homeric Hymns 3, 21 (Apollo) and Artemis 9, 27 Outline of Hymn / Study and Discussion Questions
Sacred Places: Delphi and Delos

Questions: What kind deities are Apollo and Artemis? Compare the story of Apollo to the life of Jesus Christ. What characteristics does Artemis have in common with Mary the Mother of Jesus? How does he compare to your beliefs about deity? How is Artemis similar to and different from her brother Apollo? How is a goddess different from a god? What makes Delphi and Delos sacred places?
Assignment: Compare Apollo to your god. Be sure to deal with issues of anthropomorphism, forms of worship, and ethics. Due March 12
Feb. 28 Fasti: Read Homeric Hymn 5, 6, 10 (Aphrodite) Sappho's Prayer to Aphrodite
Focus on the encounters between Aphrodite and the mortals Anchises and Sappho. Compare these encounters that of Apollo and the sailors. What do these episodes suggest about the Greek attitude toward deity in general? Human interaction with deity? Human free will? What ethical issues are suggested in these episodes? What do you think about all of these issues?
Question:  Why do you think the Greeks had a goddess like Aphrodite? What do you think about a goddess who seduces mortal men? How is the Fasti religious?
Mid-Course Evaluation Due
March 12 Read Fasti: February and March; See Fasti II: February , Lupercalia; Fasti III:  March / Fasti III: Study Questions / Some Characteristics of the Fasti
Juno Sospita: Coin / Church of San Nicola in Carcere in Rome: 1 / 2/ 3 / See Midwinter (and scroll to Juno Sospita)
Tommaso Laurenti Siciliano: The Triumph of Christianity over Paganism (1585) / For more on this painting, see the Raphael Rooms of the Vatican
/ Babri Masjid (mosque) at Ayodhya / The Ayodhya Dispute
Questions: Why does the Temple of Juno Sospita become the Church of San Nicola in Carcere? What other examples of such religious building/site conversions can you think of? Why do such things occur? Whose apotheosis does Ovid describe in February? How does such an event compare to modern religious beliefs? How many stories does Ovid tell to explain why the Luperci run naked? Why does Ovid tell the story of the Sabine Women in March? What is the feast of the toga virilis and what might be some modern equivalents? 
March 14 Fasti: April, May and June See Fasti IV: April  / Study Questions for IV / Fasti V: May / Fasti VI: June
Mars UltorClaudia Quinta 

Questions: How is the Fasti a poem? How is the Fasti like an encyclopedia? What elements of political propaganda can you find in the Fasti? How religious do you think Ovid was? Why? Where does Ovid sound religious in Fasti? Where does he sound less sincere? What myth does Ovid tell for the Feast of Cerealia in April? What does this myth have to do with the powers of the goddess Ceres?
For March 19th, write a reflection on characteristics of Roman religion in the Fasti compared to modern religious views.
March 19 
Homeric Hymn 4, 18 (Hermes). Outline and Study Questions for the Homeric Hymn to Hermes. Also read hymns #8, 11, 15-17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 25, 28-33
Questions: What kind of god is Hermes? How does he compare to your idea of deity? Which gods are honored in these hymns? How are these hymns different from the Homeric Hymns to Apollo, Dionysus, Hermes, Aphrodite, and Demeter? Why do you think these gods received different hymns? What do the Homeric Hymns as a group tell you about Greek religion and especially belief in god?
Part III Mystery Religions
March 21  Read the introduction to Meyer and consult study questions. (Click on authors' names.) See Some Definitions of Terms, Some Notes on Mysteria, Brief History of Greco-Roman Religion.
Questions: How are these books organized? How are they related to each other? How are they different? What is a mystery religion? What personal needs does religion satisfy?
Prospectus for Individualized Project Due. See Individualized Project Guidelines
March 26 Introduction to Burkert . Christianity and Mystery Religions
March 28 Homeric Hymn 2, 13 (Demeter) Read Meyer, chapter 2. Sacred Places: Eleusis  / Eleusinian Mysteries: Some Documents  / Demeter Laughed
Questions: What personal needs does the mystery religion of Demeter satisfy? Compare the Homeric Hymn to Demeter in Athanassakis to the version in Meyer (pp. 20-31). How are these two versions similar? How are they different? How is Demeter similar to and different from your concept of a deity? Compare her to Artemis and Aphrodite.
April 2 .Read Meyer, chapter 4 and Homeric Hymns 1, 7, 26 (Dionysus) .  Outline of Homeric Hymn to Dionysus / Dionysian Mysteries: Some Documents / Some Dionysian Terms / Senatus Consultum de Bacchanalibus (the Inscription / Latin text / English translation; Livy XXXIX)
Questions: What divine powers Bacchus (Dionysus) have? How does he seem less divine to you? To what extent does Dionysus fit his modern stereotype? What personal needs does the mystery religion of Dionysus satisfy? Why do you think that ancient Greeks and Romans were afraid of this cult?
Villa of the Mysteries  / Villa of Mysteries 2 / Take a Virtual Tour of the Villa  
April 4 NO CLASS
April 9 Read Burkert, chapter 1-3 Study Questions
Questions: How were the ancient mystery religions organized? How does this organization compare to the organization of established churches in the modern world?  What is theologia? What do myth and allegory have to do with mystery religions? Apply these concepts to the religions of Demeter and Dionysus
Statement due on the Dionysian Mysteries
April 11 Read Meyer, chapter 5. Also Cybele / Catullus' "Attis"  / Study Questions about Cybele 
Questions: Compare the Great Goddess to deities like Demeter and Aphrodite? How is she similar and different? 
For April 18th write a statement in which you use some of the documents on Cybele in Meyer in order to reflect on what was attractive in her worship to the ancients and what is attractive and not attractive in her worship today.
April 16 Founder's Day. NO CLASS
April 18 Read Venus of Willendorf Website / Dove"s "Venus of Willendorf"
Question: How does the cult of the Great Goddess appeal to modern feminism?
Cybele statement due
April 23 "The Extraordinary Experience" (Burkert, chapter 4) Study Questions
Question: What does Burkert mean by the "extraordinary experience"? How did the ancients talk about this experience? Do we talk about it today? 
April 25 Some Issues and Ideas Raised in ISSI402
Read Meyer, chapter 6.
Questions: Compare Isis to other goddesses you have studied. Also compare her to Mary the Mother of Jesus.
Individualized Project due at 3:30 P.M.
April 30 Mithras, Read Meyer, Chapter 7. Also Mithras in Roman Britain
Questions: Why would this deity especially appeal to males? To what extant is your religion a mystery religion?
May 2 Christianity and Judaism. Read Meyer, Chapter 8
Evaluation of Individualized Projects due
May 5 (SUNDAY) 1 P.M.
Group Presentations, Course Evaluations, etc.

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