Course syllabus



CLASSICS 110: Classical Mythology through Tragedy

CLASSICS 110G: Classical Mythology through Tragedy (General Education)

SEMESTER 1, 2018

15 points

Course Convenor: 

Associate Professor Anne Mackay  -

Office hour: Tuesdays 12:30-1:30, in 206-822.


Ashley Flavell -

Office hour: Mondays 11:00-12:00, in 206-306.

Maree Clegg -  

Office hour: Fridays 1:30-2:30, in 206-306.

Tuakana support:

Mia-Mae Stevens is the Tuakana Mentor for this course -

You can download the Tuakana Support Programme HERE.

Class Representative:

Sav Wallis -

Course delivery format:

2 hours of lectures and 1 hour of tutorial

Lectures: Monday 10:00-11:00; Tuesday 10:00-11:00. Tutorial times can be found on Student Services Online.

You can download the Schedule of Lectures and Tutorials HERE.

Prescribed books

Five ancient tragedies about myths will be studied (in English translation) as the primary material in the course. These will be (in order of study): Euripides, The Bacchae (downloadable via the "Set Texts" reading list: the first item listed in Module 1); Sophocles, The Women of Trachis, Aeschylus, Agamemnon, Sophocles, Ajax, and Sophocles, Oedipus the King. Because of copyright restrictions, apart from The Bacchae these are available only in books, and it is important that you have the specified translation, as you will find it difficult to follow lectures from a different one:

1.  Sophocles, Electra and Other Plays. Transl. David Raeburn. (London: Penguin 2008) ISBN 9780140449785 (for The Women of Trachis, and Ajax).

2.  David Grene & Richmond Lattimore (transl.) Greek Tragedies 1 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2013) ISBN 9780226035284 (for the Agamemnon and Oedipus the King).

The General Library will have just 6 copies available (for a class of over 200 students), and so you are urged to purchase your own copies of the two books. Ubiq (the University bookstore) has some copies in stock, and here are the direct links:



Summary of Course Description:              

Classical mythology is a subject that is relevant to just about every aspect of our modern Western cultural experience. The myths of the Greeks and Romans form a rich source of inspiration and subject matter for literature and art from antiquity to our own time, and now we are increasingly seeing its continuing impact in the media, particularly in film and advertising. Understanding the nature of ancient myth and how it featured in antiquity gives us access to the psyche of culture itself, whether ancient or modern. Furthermore, the vehicle for study is ancient Tragedy, which presents a coherent and distinctively structured world-view that has had a pervasive influence on Western cultural values and ethical norms.

Through studying selected ancient tragic dramas (in English translation) which recreate and explore the stories of prominent mythological figures, you will develop an understanding of the ancient theatre, of the meaning of Tragedy as a world-view, and of how myth worked within a particular social and historical context. You will also learn the essential techniques for studying ancient literature in English translation, in a course which can stand alone in a degree, or form the basis for a major in Classics and Ancient History within the BA. The plays will be discussed in detail in the lectures with frequent reference to parallels within our current experience, and then the tutorials will offer opportunities for group discussion and exchange of ideas about our responses to the universal human experiences exemplified in the plays.

Course outcomes:

  • To advance students’ knowledge and understanding of values and attitudes that are characteristic of ancient Greek (and Roman) society
  • To encourage students to draw comparisons and contrasts with the parallels and differences in the values and attitudes of our own society
  • To help students to develop a methodology for critical analysis of ancient literary texts within the dramatic genre
  • To help students to develop a methodology for selecting and making best use of scholarly publications about the ancient texts

In line with the Bachelor of Arts Graduate Profile, expected learning outcomes of this first-year course include inculcating the ability:

  • To exhibit knowledge and understanding of essential aspects of ancient culture
  • To identify and evaluate the scholarly opinions and theories
  • To identify and reject information sources that are inappropriate for academic study
  • To synthesise information and ideas from multiple sources and take account of diverse perspectives
  • To construct reasoned, reflexive arguments and interpretations using valid evidence to support claims and conclusions
  • To express and structure information and ideas clearly, coherently and persuasively

 Assessment Summary:

Coursework essay 30% Due date 16th April, before midday.

Final exam 70%

Weekly Topics:

Topics of the tutorial discussion will be advised in the week preceding each tutorial.

Prescribed Texts:

See above under 'prescribed books'.

Recommended Texts:

Recommended readings are posted in a reading list for each module in the course. Wherever possible, readings are available electronically.

 Workload and deadlines for submission of coursework:           

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 15-point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Deadlines for coursework are set by course convenors and will be advertised in course material. You should submit your work on time. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you may be required to provide supporting information before the assignment is due. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension will be penalised by loss of marks at the rate of 5% per working day overdue.

Course summary:

Date Details