What you'll learn

  • To read “out of,” rather than “into,” a literary text, which is the art of close reading
  • The definition of a “hero” in the Classical Greek sense, contrasted with modern concepts of heroism
  • The relationship between epic and lyric in the ancient Greek tradition
  • To explore the interaction of text and image in the ancient Greek tradition
  • About hero cult and the role of heroes as objects of worship in ancient Greece
  • About the connection between myth and ritual in ancient Greece

Course description

The readings, all in English translation, are the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, seven tragedies (Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy, Sophocles' two Oedipus dramas, and Euripides' Hippolytus and The Bacchic Women), and two dialogues of Plato (the Apology and the Phaedo, both centering on the last days of Socrates); and from the dialogue On Heroes by an eminent thinker in the second sophistic movement, Philostratus.


  • Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University
  • Associate of the Department of South Asian Studies, Harvard University.
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