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Epic & Epyllion - Outline

This module aims to introduce you to important ancient examples of epyllion literature and to consider this exciting form of narrative in a wider cultural context.

The ancient narratives modern scholars refer to as 'epyllia' (i.e. little epics) often appeal greatly to modern readers because of their subjective nature, romantic perspectives, and their content - which tends to be erotic or fantastic. The particular authors studied in this module, particularly the Greek Apollonius and the Roman Ovid, are more than ever before the subject of a great deal of scholarly and critical interest.

Lectures will set out general issues; assignments for seminars and essays will give you opportunities to explore the different aspects of these enjoyable texts in relation to their origins and background. Overall, the module will enable you to achieve the following objectives:

  • become familiar with the form and subject matter of epyllion poetry and its relation to epic and ancient literature in general
  • acquire important insights into the development of Greek and Roman literary history (contributing to your knowledge of ancient Greco-Roman culture as a whole)
  • acquaint yourself with some major Greek and Roman poets and their work

Those of you studying texts in Latin for this course will also enhance your knowledge of the Latin language and your appreciation of its poetic value.