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CLAS 430 A: Greek and Roman Mythology

Oedipus and the Sphinx
Meeting Time: 
MWF 9:30am - 10:20am
SMI 120
Joint Sections: 
CLAS 430 B
Alain M. Gowing

Syllabus Description:

Classics 430 A and B: Greek and Roman Mythology (Spring Qtr. '20)

MWF 9:30-10:20 AM (Lectures to be posted on Panopto) ❋ Delivered online ❋  3 CREDITS ❋ Satisfies VLPA

Instructor: Professor Alain M. Gowing (

Department of Classics, Denny 262

Office: M262C Denny Hall

Spring Quarter Office Hours: M 10:30-11:30 and W 1:30-2:30.  These will be virtual office hours, during which time I will be available by Zoom as follows:

M 10:30-11:30 AM:

W 1:30-2:30 PM:

You may also email me ( to arrange a different day/time if necessary. 


Required Text: M. Morford, R.J. Lenardon, and M. Sham (=MLS), Classical Mythology, 11th edition, Oxford University Press 2018 (note that you must have this new, 11th edition).  Click HERE for further information about the book.  The hardcopy version of this book will be available for purchase from the University Bookstore; an e-version is also available from Oxford University Press and through other vendors.  The book may also be rented from RedShelf, VitalSource, Chegg, and others.  

NOTE: SEE MY UPDATE ON THE OUP OFFER HERE.  ((Oxford University Press may offer the e-version of this text free of charge for the duration of the quarter (part of their reponse to the coronavirus situation).  Please check HERE for details and look under the 'Student Access/Resources' tab))

ALSO: This text also offers an valuable online compendium of 'Student Resources' intended to accompany the text. Here's a link to the 'Student Resources' provided by OUP for the 11th edition (links to an external site.)  You should have a code in the front of your text (or provided with your online version) which will allow you to access these resources.  I strongly encourage you to consult these on a regular basis.

Course description: Of the many traditions handed down to us by the Greeks and Romans, their mythology has surely exercised the most far-reaching and longest-lasting influence and attracted a long line of artists, writers, philosophers, composers and film-makers. The extent of this influence results in part from the vibrant, ancient literary and artistic tradition that has transmitted the mythology to us, though it should be borne in mind that classical mythology makes up only a portion of our rich and varied mythic heritage. A familiarity with classical mythology can therefore significantly enrich one's appreciation of art, literature and music, and beyond that, the myths often provide fascinating insights into the individual and societal psyche. And, of course, the stories are in and of themselves exceptionally entertaining. The overall aim of this course is to help you acquire substantial familiarity with the principal classical myths and the ways those myths are represented in Greek and Roman literature and, to a degree, art. More specifically, at the conclusion of this course you will:

  • be able to identify the major and many of the minor characters from Greek and Roman mythology
  • have read extensively in the ancient literary sources for classical mythology as well as considered some of the artistic evidence
  • become familiar with the most influential theories about and approaches to mythology
  • be able to describe and analyze mythological themes and structures in literature, art and even movies

It should be stressed that no prior knowledge of either ancient civilization or literature is assumed or required.  Satisfies VLPA requirement.


  • Read assigned material; view on a regular basis the lectures posted to Panopto
  • Four online, multiple choice quizzes -- the lowest grade of these four will be dropped.  Details on these will be provided as needed; the dates they will be administered is indicated in the 'Schedule of Readings and Lectures' below.

Some important class guidelines: 

  • In order for this class to be successful and meaningful for you, please make a concerted effort to keep up with and understand the readings, listen carefully to the lectures, and review the accompanying PowerPoint presentations.
  • Please do not hesitate to ask questions, and for that purpose, use the 'Discussions' option on Canvas.  If you ask a question by email -- any question pertaining to class material or procedures -- I will post that to Discussions and answer it there.
  • You should be aware that many of the myths and legends we will cover may occasionally touch on issues and behavior that some may find unpleasant and even offensive (Greek gods and goddesses often behave in ways that are all too human and sadly familiar). While I make every effort to present the material in a sensitive and thoughtful manner, I cannot always anticipate what your reaction might be. Reading the material in advance of the lecture is the best way to ensure you are aware of the sorts of issues to be covered.

Important UW policy-related things to know:

  • The UW's Religious Accommodations Policy: “Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy (Links to an external site.). Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (Links to an external site.).”
  • The UW's Student Conduct Code: "The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution. More information can be found online at" (Links to an external site.)
  • Access and Accommodation: Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

    If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or  (Links to an external site.)DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions.  Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS.  It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

  • Academic Integrity: University of Washington students are expected to practice high standards of academic and professional honesty and integrity as outlined here: (Links to an external site.)


Schedule of Readings and Lectures:

PLEASE NOTE: Links to the PowerPoint presentations accompanying each lecture will be posted below with each date/topic as we cover them.  You may also find all the PP presentations gathered under 'Files' (again, posted as they become relevant). 

Week 1: 


PowerPoint for 'Introduction'

April 1: MLS, pp. 3-81 (Chaps. 1-3: Interpretation, Hist. Background, Myths of Creation)

History and Sources for Myth Timeline (see also MLS pp. 52-53)

3: cont'd.

Week 2:            

6: pp. 82-113 (Chap. 4, Zeus)

8: pp. 114-35 (Chap. 5, Twelve Olympians: Zeus, Hera, and Their Children)

10: pp. 136-64 (Chap. 6, Nature of the Gods and Greek Religion)

Week 3:

13: pp. 165-75 (Chap. 7, Poseidon etc.) 

15: pp. 176-89 (Chap. 8, Athena) 

17: pp. 190-222 (Chap. 9, Aphrodite/Eros) QUIZ #1 (Chaps. 1-8)

Week 4:

20: p. 223-46 (Chaps. 10-11, Artemis)

22: pp. 247-80 (Chap. 10, Apollo)

24:  pp. 281-99 (Chap. 12, Hermes)

Week 5:

27: pp. 300-33 (Chap. 13, Dionysus et al.)

29: pp. 334-54 (Chap. 14, Demeter)

May 1: pp. 355-83 (Chap. 15, afterlife) QUIZ #2 (Chaps. 9-14)

Week 6:

4: pp. 384-400 (Chap. 16, Orpheus)

6: pp. 403-36 (Intro. to Greek Sagas, and Chap. 17, Theban Saga) 

8: pp. 437-66 (Chap. 18, Mycenaean Saga)

Week 7:

11: pp. 467-86 (Chap. 19, Trojan Saga I)

13: pp. 486-516 (Chap. 19, cont.’d, Trojan Saga II) 

15: pp. 517-39 (Chap. 20, The Returns and the Odyssey)

Week 8:

18: pp. 540-53 (Chap. 21, Perseus and the Legends of Argos) QUIZ #3 (Chaps. 15-20)

20: pp. 554-81 (Chap. 22, Heracles)

22: p. 582-606 (Chap. 23, Theseus and the Legends of Attica) Q

Week 9

25: Memorial Day holiday (take a break!)

28: pp. 607-34 (Chap. 24, Jason, Medea, and the Argonauts) 

29: pp. 637-66 (Chap. 25, Greek Mythology in the Roman World)

Week 10

June 1: pp. 667-705 (Chap. 26, Roman Mythology and Saga, Part I)

3: (Roman Mythology and Saga, Part II)

5: finishing up and review

June 10: Quiz #4 (Chaps. 21-26)

Catalog Description: 
Principal myths found in classical and later literature. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
February 20, 2020 - 9:11pm