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COURSE NAME: "Classical Mythology"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2020

INSTRUCTOR: Massimo Betello
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 4:40-6:00 PM
OFFICE HOURS: Mondays 6:30- 7:30 PM on Microsoft Teams

The course examines the principal myths of Classical Greece and Rome, with some reference to their evolution from earlier local and Mediterranean legends, deities and religions. The importance of these myths in the literature and art of the Western World will be discussed.

This course is designed to allow students to become acquaintance with the main myths of the Greco-Roman tradition, and as such it is structured to be a survey of the legends, sagas, goddesses, gods, heroes and heroines that were familiar to the Greeks and the Romans. In fact, it is not possible to understand the Classical word without a good knowledge of Classical myths: they were part of religion, often used in literature, art, politics, and entertainment. Our major sources are written stories, but ancient artworks are also important as they are the physical representation of how these mythological events were pictured in the minds of old. Consequently, Greek vases and Roman frescoes will be used to contextualize some of the legends.

This course will also discuss how Classical mythology is alive in the modern culture: graphic novels, movies, books, and Las Vegas.


With a successful conclusion of this course, the students will be able to:

·         name the main characters of Classical mythology

·         describe the origins stories of the main gods and heroes

·         summarize the main Greek and Roman sagas

·         appraise the connections and differences between Greek and Roman myths

·         compare and contrast Greek and Roman gods

·         discuss the two-way relationship between myth and art (mainly visual art)

·         argue about the “mechanisms” at work in the creation of mythologies (ancient and modern)

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
Classical Mythology (11th edition)Morford Mark and othersOxford University Press9780190067243 This E-BOOK is to be bought ONLY through Perusall.com Instruction on how to do it will be provided during the first class. $53.98 USD | 180-day online access    
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Art and Myth in ancient GreeceCarpenterThames and Hudson0500202362N 7760.C27Chosen sections will be available as scans on Moodle.

REadingAll the readings that are part of this assessment method must be accessed from Moodle through Perusall links. Perusall.com is the online platform where the readings are to be done, and no other ways are accepted for these assignments.5
6 tests (online)These short tests are intended to foster a regular study and allow the students to get ready for the major exams. Questions will test both factual knowledge (events, date, people etc.), and the comprehension of fundamental concepts. They will be administered online, not during class time.18 (3% each)
Midterm examThe topics tested will be those of the first half of the semester. It will be made up by two parts: • one testing the student’s factual knowledge (events, gods, heros, people etc) using identifications, multiple choices, true-false, etc.; • the other testing the student’s understanding and knowledge of the concepts explained in class using open questions, essays etc.26
Final examThe topics tested will be those of the second half of the semester only. The final exam is not cumulative. The format will follow that of the midterm exam. 26
ParticipationParticipation will be evaluated in every class (for a total of 5%) and in the bi-weekly Moodle forum (for a total of 5%). Every two weeks the student will reply to two post from the Moodle forum 10 (5+5)
Final paperIn the final paper (1500 words) the student is expected to provide an analysis of a mythological story. In its simplest form it can be a compare and contrast paper of two mythological (or mythologically inspired) topics (e.g. Perseus VS Percy Jackson, Neptune VS Poseidon, Apollo VS Dionysus). 15

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


Attendance will be taken at every class.

More than 6 absences regardless of the reason (that is missing more than 25% of the course) will have you fail the class.

No justification for any absence is allowed in this course: six absences are enough to cover any event.

Only extended medical emergencies are justified absences. No other reason count as a justified absence: finger-print appointments, sickness, trips, etc. are not justified.

Absences during the first week of the semester still count against the 6 absence as the student is missing parts of the course.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Week and day


Assignments for the day

01 week

Monday 21 September


Introduction to the course

Assignments, textbooks, expected commitment.

Overview of the topics that will be studied.

01 week

Wednesday 23 September

Historical background of Greek Mythology


02 week

Monday 28 September

Myths of creation


02 week

Wednesday 30 September

Zeus’ rise to power


02 week

MAKE Up Friday October 2

The Twelve Olympian gods

Test 01

03 week

Monday October 5

The Nature of the Gods in Greek Religions


03 week

Wednesday October 7

The gods and monsters of the sea


04 week

Monday October 12




04 week

Wednesday October 14


Test 02

05 Week

Monday October 19



05 week

Wednesday October 21



06 week

Monday October 26

Dionysus and his merry companions


06 week

Wednesday October 28


Test 03

07 week

Monday November 2


07 week Wednesday November 4

Hermes; The Greek Afterlife


07 Week

MAKE UP Friday November 6

The Theban saga


08 week

Monday November 9

The Mycenaean saga


08 week Wednesday November 11

The Iliad

Test 04

09 week

Monday November 16

The Odyssey


09 week

Wednesday November 18



10 week

Monday November 23



10 Week

Wednesday November 25

Theseus and the minotaur

Test 05

11 week

Monday November 30

Greek mythology in the Roman world


11 week

Wednesday December 2

Roman mythology (part 1)


12 week

Monday December 7

Roman mythology (part 2)


12 week

Wednesday December 9


Test 06



11-14 December