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Myth in the Greek and Roman worlds

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What is myth? This Level 3 module is a broad interdisciplinary study of Greek and Roman myth in its social, historical, literary and visual context. It combines the detailed study of individual works of literature, art and architecture with an exploration of context, function and purpose. A particular aspect you will study is the reception of mythical ideas and images in later European culture. Interactive visual explorations of key ancient and modern sites, monuments and artefacts relevant to mythological themes are supplied on DVD-ROM – together with audio interviews with experts tracing the influence of myth on, for example, drama, science and medicine.

Modules at Level 3 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

Register for the course


Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
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Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1625.00
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Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1465.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

The module consists of an introduction and four main blocks.

In the first two blocks the main emphasis is on obtaining knowledge of a specific range of myths and mythical characters and their function, and on critical analysis of the presentation of myths in a variety of sources, such as history, poetry, drama and art.

The later blocks add more detailed analysis of poetry and its very influential reception in medieval and Renaissance poetry and visual art. In the final block, philosophy is added to the range of sources to be studied and analysed.

As the module progresses, you are expected to develop a degree of independence in learning to the extent that you are able to complete independent analyses using the skills you have learned in the course of your study, leading to a project-type essay at the end of the module.

The module makes use of a DVD-ROM relevant to each of the blocks to present audio discussions by experts of key issues raised in the written material. The DVD-ROM also illustrates key sites and architectural features, as well as images depicting mythical subjects.

ICT is also used to give access to the range of specialist websites that comprise works of reference and scholarship in the field, as well as more general works of reference (e.g. Wikipedia).

You are introduced to the module content as follows:

In a short Introduction, we ask basic questions like ‘What is myth?’, and ‘Why Greek and Roman myth?’ There are sections on ‘catch-up’ reading for those unfamiliar with classical antiquity, learning outcomes and the basic structure of the module. This leads to a ‘taster’ that introduces you to the mythical narrative of the Roman poet Ovid, and how the famous myth of the Fall of Icarus is represented in Renaissance and modern art and poetry.

In Block 1: The myth of Hippolytus and Phaedra you trace the development of a particularly influential myth through the Greek and Roman worlds. This is the myth of the Greek youth Hippolytus, whose tragic fate is explored through the contrasted presentations of a range of sources from Greek drama to Roman and early Christian art. This block concludes with a study of the cult of Hippolytus at Nemi near Rome and the famous treatment by Sir James Frazer in the Golden Bough.

In Block 2: Myth in Rome: power, life and afterlife you concentrate on how myths of origin and power functioned in the Roman Empire. You investigate the role of myth in the validation of Roman imperial rule, and how myth related to history. At the other end of the social scale, you explore how myth impacted on everyday life and related to Roman attitudes to death.

In Block 3: Ovid and the reception of myth you focus on Ovid’s Metamorphoses as a key source for the literary interpretation of Greek and Roman myth. There is close reading of selected sections from this seminal poem, with a concentration on different types of interpretation. This includes recent scholarship and with reference to its influence in medieval and Renaissance reception in literature and visual art, in particular looking at allegorical interpretation of the classical myths.

In Block 4: Myth and reason you examine the relations and tensions between ‘mythical’ and ‘rational’ thought in Greek culture. Starting with origins, i.e. how the world began, this block progresses to consideration of emerging rational and scientific modes of thought. This is principally in the Presocratic philosophers and in Hippocratic medicine, of the sixth to fourth centuries BCE and then progressing to a consideration of how human life ends, i.e. myths of the afterlife in Mystery religion and the philosopher Plato.

You will learn

By studying this module you will:

  • gain an in-depth knowledge of a specific range of myths and mythical characters, and learn to consider how myths function in a range of contexts, historical, social and cultural
  • study and analyse the presentation of myths in a variety of sources – such as poetry, drama, history, philosophy, art, architecture and archaeology – evaluating the context of the evidence and how different contexts may relate to each other
  • develop the ability to write a well thought-out analysis of texts/artistic representations and produce essays containing logical argument and analysis at an appropriate level
  • become familiar with critical analysis of the reception of Greek and Roman myth, including a range of theoretical approaches and modern scholarship relating to Classical Mythology
  • develop a degree of independence in learning that will enable you to complete analyses, using the skills you have learnt, including investigations of bibliography via the internet, libraries, etc.

You will also be required to undertake, with a degree of independence, a project at the end of the module.

Entry

This is a Level 3 module. Level 3 modules build on the skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at Levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably at the OU.

Although no particular modules are required before studying this one, we recommend that you should have taken at least two arts modules at Levels 1 and 2. The Level 1 module The arts past and present (AA100) as well as a Level 2 module would be ideal preparation. This is because this module has been designed to enable you to apply and develop skills in working with source material that you would get from an interdisciplinary or single-discipline Level 2 module.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Preparatory work

For further information visit the faculty website.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

Parts of this module are focused on a wide range of visual sources and visually impaired students are strongly recommended to consider arranging sighted assistance. Brief descriptions of the images used in the module will be available. Alternative TMAs will be available on request.

This module makes considerable use of ICT tools such as a website and a DVD-ROM. If you use specialist software or hardware to assist you in operating a computer or the internet and have concerns about accessing this type of material you are advised to talk to the Student Registration & Enquiry Service about support which can be given to meet your needs.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Module books, other printed material, DVD-ROM and website.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2007 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.6 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Ovid: Feeney, D (Intro) & Raeburn, D (tr) (eds) Metamorphoses, Penguin £8.99 - ISBN 9780140447897
  • Morford, M P O & Lenardon, R J Classical Mythology (International 9th edn), Oxford University Press £30.00 - ISBN 9780199768981
  • Euripides: Rutherford, R (Intro) Davie, J (tr) (ed) Medea and other plays (Alcestis, Medea, The Children of Heracles and Hippolytus), Penguin £8.99 - ISBN 9780140449297
  • Grimal, P: Kershaw, S (ed.) & Maxwell-Hyslop, A (tr) (eds) The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Penguin £12.99 - ISBN 9780140512359

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper. 

Your end-of-module assessment (EMA) must be submitted online.

Assessment is an essential part of the teaching, so you are expected to complete it all. You will be given more information when you register.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014. We expect it to be available once a year.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Student Reviews

“One of the best courses of my degree. Don't underestimate the amount of reading and background context you will need ...”
Read more
“This course is fantastic - absolutely fascinating from beginning to end. Be warned however, this is not a history course ...”
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Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code A330
Credits 60
OU Level 3
SCQF level 10
FHEQ level 6
Course work includes:
5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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