Course description: This course
fulfills the senior-level Issues and Ideas component of the Monmouth
College General Education requirement for graduation. It is a liberal arts
course without prerequisites, designed for all students, whatever their
majors may be. The MonmouthCollege
catalogue gives the following description of Issues and Ideas
[These courses] address issues and ideas that any responsible citizen
must confront. These are courses which draw upon the maturity and
intellectual flexibility of students in their senior year. They engage the
student with problems and ideas that directly address the conditions and
well-being of life.
These courses include, but are not limited to, issues and ideas such
as the continuing presence of war; what we understand a just society to be;
the question of personal identity and the self; or responsible
relationships with the natural world.
These courses incorporate the perspectives of various viewpoints
since they deal with questions that transcend immediate professional and
intellectual vantages. They elicit a recognition of
and a critical response to shared and continuing human concerns.
Classical Mythology and Religion uses the myths and religions
of the ancient Greeks and Romans as a framework for discussing issues of
religion and spirituality in the modern world. The course challenges
students to reflect upon and to develop their feelings about how
spirituality and deity factor in their lives and how humanity fits into the
"grand scheme of things." Classical Mythology and
Religion starts from the premise that one people's religion is another
people's myths and considers the relationship between religion and
mythology. The issues and ideas addressed in this course include the
What is religion and religious truth?
What is the role of deity in human life?
What is the place of a human being in the world?
Course readings, class discussions and lectures will provide
background on the relationship between religion and mythology in the
ancient world, especially among the Greeks and Romans. Students will be
expected to use this material in order to reflect upon their own religious
beliefs and world views. (Return
Note: You are
also expected to have ready access to a Bible. Click
for an electronic version. (Return to menu)
Class format: The emphasis
of this class is discussion of the assigned readings in terms of one's own
religious beliefs and world view. Willingness of class members to read and
reflect upon assigned readings in advance and to express their opinions in
class is essential to the success of each class. It is expected that
everyone attend class regularly, read the assignments carefully, and come
to class prepared to discuss them. (Return to menu)
Goals, requirements, and evaluation: The final grade
will comprise Class Participation and Quizzes (25%), Personal Statements
(35%), Individualized Project (35%), and Group Presentation (5%). Daily
participation in class discussions and readiness when called upon is
expected; the instructor will keep track of those who volunteer information
and opinions. Quizzes, whether announced or not, may not be made up.
Grading scale: A 100-90, B 89-76, C 75-61, D
Personal statements will be assigned approximately each week on class
discussion and course reading. At least 600 words (two full typed pages) in
length, these statements are informal, short, non-research essays on
discussion topics. They are not just summaries of what was said or what was
read. They should go beyond mere recording of events to include personal
analysis and commentary. Emphasis will be on (1) integration of the
student's own ideas and thoughts with the subject matter of the course and
on (2) coherent and logical expression of these ideas. In these statements
you will briefly summarize the main points, offer your own opinion and
thoughts about the topics raised, and support your statement with specific
data. Submission of the work on time earns the student one point.
Additional points will be earned for following content and stylistic
requirements and for personal analysis and commentary.
1.Jan. 18 Course Introductions
Discussion of Issues and Ideas Rubric. See the Monmouth
College Curriculum / The
New Curriculum Questions: How does an ISSI course fit into the MC Curriculum? What should an Issues and
Ideas course be like? What happens to the ISSI class in the new curriculum?
Jan. 20 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. 25th. What are "myth" and "religion"? Look especially
at the discussion of the meaning of the word "myth" inThe
Web of Myth Theory. Also Myth
and Religion: Some Definitions
2.Jan. 25 Cleanthes' "Hymn to Zeus", images of
Zeus; Compare images of Christian God.
Anthropomorphism and Xenophanes of Colophon. Look here
especially at the fragments called satires: Xenophanes' Fragments.
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 extent does your god have anthropomorphic
Assignment: Compare Cleanthes' hymn to a prayer
which is important to you personally. Due Feb. 1.
Jan. 27 Homeric Hymns and Polytheism
Preface and introduction to Athanassakis. See Homeric
Survey of Christian Polytheism, and Islam
and Polytheism. The Pantheon
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
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?
Feb. 24 Apollo and
Homeric Hymns 3, 21 (Apollo) and Artemis 9, 27
Outline of Hymn /
Study and Discussion Questions Sacred Places:
Delphi and Delos
Omphalos Questions: What kind of 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 3.
March 17 Fasti: April, May
and June See Fasti IV:
Questions for IV /
Fasti V: May /
Fasti VI: June Mars Ultor
/ Claudia 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 31, write a reflection on characteristics of Roman religion in the Fasti compared to modern religious views.
9.March 22 Homeric Hymn 4, 18 (Hermes).
for the Homeric Hymn to Hermes.
Hermes Images /
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?
10. March 29
and Mystery Religions
Assignment:reflection on mystery religion experience due April 6.
March 31 No
class. Work on your individualized
11.April 5 Homeric Hymn 2, 13 (Demeter)
Read Meyer, chapter 2. Sacred Places: Eleusis
Mysteries: Some Documents /
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.
Conferences on your individualized project.
13.April 19 Read Burkert, chapter 1-3
Study Questions; Meyer, chapter 5. Also
Catullus' "Attis" /
Study Questions about Cybele Questions: Compare the Great Goddess to deities like
Demeter and Aphrodite? How is she similar and different? 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,
due Apr 26.
14.April 26 "The Extraordinary Experience" (Burkert, chapter 4)
Study Questions Isis.
Read Meyer, chapter 6. Questions: Compare Isis to other goddesses you have
studied. Also compare her to Mary the Mother of Jesus.
Question: What does Burkert
mean by the "extraordinary experience"? How did the ancients talk
about this experience? Do we talk about it today? Some Issues and Ideas Raised in ISSI402