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Classical and Medieval Literature

Classical and Medieval Literature >

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The Titans in Greek Mythology
Episode 1 of Great Mythologies of the World
Welcome to the ancient Greek myths: some of the most popular, well-known stories in Western civilization. When did these tales emerge, and what are our earliest sources for them? Find out in this lecture on father-son conflicts between Uranus, Kronos,…
Complex Goddesses: Athena, Aphrodite, Hera
Episode 2 of Great Mythologies of the World
Meet three iconic goddesses whose personalities and stories reflect how the ancient Greeks viewed women. They are: Athena, who emerged fully-formed from Zeus's head and is linked to legal courts; Aphrodite, best known for her wild love affair with Adonis;…
Beowulf--A Hero with Hidden Depths
Episode 7 of Heroes and Legends
Beowulf is not an easy poem to understand, but Beowulf is not an easy character to understand. Here, analyze how this classic male hero--a big, strong, monster killer--may have a hidden vulnerability. Then, look at what insights Beowulf's story offers…
Homer's Mythology - Tracing A Tradition
A complete discussion of the Homeric legend as the first significant record of Greek mythology. The program emphasizes Homer's relevance to modern literature, psychology, scholarship and popular culture. It analyzes the characters in the Iliad and The Odyssey and summarizes…
Gods and Humanity in Greek Thought
Episode 3 of Great Mythologies of the World
Discover fresh insights into several Greek myths that teach us about the relationship between gods and humans. Is Prometheus a troublemaker (according to Hesiod) or a liberator (according to Aeschylus)? What happened after Pandora's box of evil spirits was opened?…
Odysseus, Master of Schemes
Episode 5 of Great Mythologies of the World
Turn now to the hero of Homer's celebrated Odyssey: Odysseus. From his plans for the Trojan horse to his tricking of a murderous cyclops to his final arrival back in Ithaca, learn how Odysseus's scheming and lying led to heroic…
Herakles and the Greek Hero
Episode 4 of Great Mythologies of the World
Investigate the mythological roots and legacies of the powerful--but flawed--Greek hero, Herakles. Explore common threads that run through some of his twelve labors, including the slaying of the Hydra and the cleaning of the Augean stables. Also, ponder Herakles's role…
Odysseus--The Trickster Hero
Episode 2 of Heroes and Legends
Go back to the beginning of world literature to explore what made Homer's traveling hero such a powerful figure. Odysseus's story set the model for countless road narratives, but his character, which is surprisingly sly and resourceful, is unique. Here,…
The Golden Fleece and the Hero’s Return
Episode 6 of Great Mythologies of the World
An altogether different--and darker--mythological adventure story is Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece. In pondering the best-known versions of both Jason's story and his wife, Medea's, you'll begin to see Jason as a failed hero and Medea as more than…
Don Quixote--The First of the Wannabes
Episode 10 of Heroes and Legends
Turn next to Don Quixote, a wannabe knight-errant whose infamous exploits mark a pivotal moment in the history of literature. Explore his fantastic adventures and meet Sancho Panza, who is perhaps literature's first antihero. See why this novel is so…
Thor--A Very Human God
Episode 8 of Heroes and Legends
Thor may seem like another classic male hero--the god of thunder in Norse mythology and a superhero today--yet the Icelandic poems and stories from the 13th century undercut the image of Thor as a straightforward hero. These amusing tales will…
Norse Tales of Odin and Thor
Episode 11 of Great Mythologies of the World
Dark and brooding, Norse mythology reflects the harsh living conditions of ancient Germanic and Scandinavian people. Here, focus on two of the most well-known Norse gods: Odin (the god of war who sacrificed himself on a tree) and Thor (the…
The Wife of Bath--An Independent Woman
Episode 5 of Heroes and Legends
Chaucer worked harder on the Wife of Bath than on any other character in The Canterbury Tales, leaving us not one but four separate perspectives on one of literature's most memorable female characters. Discover what Chaucer reveals about her, the…
Aeneas--The Straight Arrow
Episode 3 of Heroes and Legends
Turn now to the Roman straight arrow. Aeneas's story takes him from the Trojan War to the courtship of Queen Dido and on to the founding of Rome. In writing this epic, Virgil helped shape the Roman Empire's sense of…
Cressida--A Love Betrayed
Episode 6 of Heroes and Legends
Cressida is an archetypal femme fatale, embroiled in a love triangle between her true love, Troilus, and the bad boy, Diomedes. Through the lens of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the Scottish poet Robert Henryson, discover what makes Cressida tick--why does she…
Guinevere--A Heroine with Many Faces
Episode 4 of Heroes and Legends
Trace Guinevere's adulterous affair with Lancelot and consider what effects it had on cultural values and Western history. As a powerful woman in the heart of King Arthur's court, Guinevere is an intriguing heroine--passionate, strong-willed, and complex in a way…
The Dagda’s Harp and Other Celtic Myths
Episode 10 of Great Mythologies of the World
Using the intriguing tale of Dagda and his magic harp as a framework, Professor McClymond introduces you to the often unappreciated world of Celtic mythology. Meet unforgettable heroes like Cu Chulainn and Lugh, and encounter powerful magical items and treasures…
Hammers, Rings, and Other Norse Magic
Episode 12 of Great Mythologies of the World
Skidbladnir, the ship of the gods that can also fit in your pocket. Andvarinaut, a powerful ring that inspired a cycle of mythological stories. These and other magical items are the prized possessions of Norse kings, warriors, and heroes. And…
The Mother Goddess in Rome and Beyond
Episode 9 of Great Mythologies of the World
What does Cybele reveal about the great mother goddesses of mythological traditions? Learn how this classic figure evolved over thousands of years, how it adapted to different cultures, how it became connected in Rome with power and aristocracy, and where…
Romulus, Remus, and Rome’s Origins
Episode 7 of Great Mythologies of the World
Not all Roman mythology is indebted to Greece. Focus on several uniquely Roman myths about the empire's founding, including the lives of the brothers Romulus and Remus and the abduction of the Sabine women. What's the difference between creation and…