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Classical Mythology | [The Great Courses]

Classical Mythology

These 24 lectures are a vibrant introduction to the primary characters and most important stories of classical Greek and Roman mythology. Among those you'll investigate are the accounts of the creation of the world in Hesiod's Theogony and Ovid's Metamorphoses; the gods Zeus, Apollo, Demeter, Persephone, Hermes, Dionysos, and Aphrodite; the Greek heroes, Theseus and Heracles (Hercules in the Roman version); and the most famous of all classical myths, the Trojan War.
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Publisher's Summary

These 24 lectures are a vibrant introduction to the primary characters and most important stories of classical Greek and Roman mythology. Among those you'll investigate are the accounts of the creation of the world in Hesiod's Theogony and Ovid's Metamorphoses; the gods Zeus, Apollo, Demeter, Persephone, Hermes, Dionysos, and Aphrodite; the Greek heroes, Theseus and Heracles (Hercules in the Roman version); and the most famous of all classical myths, the Trojan War.

Professor Vandiver anchors her presentation in some basics. What is a myth? Which societies use myths? What are some of the problems inherent in studying classical mythology? She also discusses the most influential 19th- and 20th-century thinking about myth's nature and function, including the psychological theories of Freud and Jung and the metaphysical approach of Joseph Campbell. You'll also consider the relationship between mythology and culture (such as the implications of the myth of Demeter, Persephone, and Hades for the Greek view of life, death, and marriage), the origins of classical mythology (including the similarities between the Theogony and Mesopotamian creation myths), and the dangers of probing for distant origins (for example, there's little evidence that a prehistoric "mother goddess" lies at the heart of mythology).

Taking you from the surprising "truths" about the Minotaur to Ovid's impact on the works of William Shakespeare, these lectures make classical mythology fresh, absorbing, and often surprising.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2000 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2000 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (131 )
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  •  
    Michelle OVIEDO, FL, United States 10-13-13
    Michelle OVIEDO, FL, United States 10-13-13 Member Since 2013

    I like traveling, but I'm too poor, so I read instead.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great"

    Fascinating lecture on classical mythology. Vandiver is entertaining and realistic in her approach and I would be delighted to listen to more of her lectures.

    I'm not really sure what's up with the other reviewer, maybe it was different than what they were expecting. To prevent that, let me tell you:
    -The first three lectures are a discussion of what constitutes a myth. She explains multiple theories and their implications.
    -The next lectures are about the beginning of the universe and the birth of the gods/ primordial deities.
    -Then come a few more Olympians (Demeter, Dionysus, Hermes, etc)
    -And a few heroes (Heracles is the biggie)

    This is not a systematic retelling of myth in the form of a story, it's a lecture intended to help listeners better interpret and understand classical mythology. It's very brief, as an in-depth interpretation of all myth would take several weeks of continuous lecture, but it's a good starting point.

    As someone whose only experience with mythology was the Percy Jackson series, I found this interesting and well worth the time it took to listen. I recommend it.

    21 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt Parkdale, Australia 01-29-14
    Matt Parkdale, Australia 01-29-14 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very Informative and Entertaining"

    Before I make any criticism, I want to say that for me, this was a "Couldn't put it down" audio book. To me this is an example of audio books at their best. I strongly recommended it. I found it entertaining, easy listening, informative and well presented.

    The speaker's delivery was at just the right pace for me and with plenty of colour. I like to listen while doing other things such as exercising and cooking and driving. That means the delivery needs to be good to hold my attention and she hit the spot for me.

    I knew a bit about classical mythology before I started, but I knew a lot more by the time I finished. Great perspective and overview.

    My only criticism is that I would have liked the stories and characters she covered to have been presented as such, rather than descriptions and discussions of the stories. Obviously these are academic style lectures, but I think a few complete stories mixed in would have added to the work. I would love to hear an expanded version where these lectures serve as a companion to properly narrated stories themselves. That would be awesome.

    One very important thing to add - she stimulated an appetite in me to learn more. I bought several other works in the same series after this. (Not all were as good as this). In retrospect, I think this is one of the most valuable things about it.



    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua ASBURY, NJ, United States 11-05-13
    Joshua ASBURY, NJ, United States 11-05-13 Member Since 2011

    Choreographer, Director, Actor, Dancer, Educator. And lover of audio books! They are theatre for the mind!

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    "the Facts behind the Myth"

    This is my third Great Course and second by Professor Elizabeth Vandiver. Vandiver is simply wonderful; her lectures are not only full of information and insight but also ingeniously organized to increase understanding. I wish she had been one of my professors in college because she is THAT compelling. If you are familiar with myth but are looking for more about the history and context of the myths then this course is perfect for you. I also highly recommend that if you enjoy these lectures that you listen to Professor Vandiver's lectures on Greek Tragedy as well.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saud United States 01-07-14
    Saud United States 01-07-14

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

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    "An Epic Journey Across Classical Myth"

    I enjoy mythologies, and I have read up a lot about them. This course focuses on Greek and Roman mythologies primarily, providing much needed academic insight.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicole Worth, IL, United States 12-13-13
    Nicole Worth, IL, United States 12-13-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Great lectures!"
    What did you love best about Classical Mythology?

    Very interesting material. I learned so much. Professor Vandiver was an excellent speaker and made the subject come to life.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer Omaha, NE United States 10-19-13
    Kindle Customer Omaha, NE United States 10-19-13 Member Since 2013
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    "A good treatment of the material."

    I was very pleased with this course, over all. Unfortunately, it started out a little rough. The Professor was very knowledgeable. Unfortunately, she seemed rushed, or perhaps nervous through the first chapter and a half. Afterwards she falls into an easy lecture style, and seems like she's enjoying giving lecture a little more. Beyond these small points, I thought it was a useful series, with a good treatment of classic mythology.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicola G. Edmonds 05-15-14 Member Since 2013
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    "do not buy"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    So dry and boring I cannot continue to listen. I was hoping this would be fun mythology stories but she drones on and on.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George Franklin, IN, United States 09-11-13
    George Franklin, IN, United States 09-11-13
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    "terrible"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    nobody


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    do not know


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Professor Elizabeth Vandiver?

    not sure


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    disappointment


    Any additional comments?

    if you ask her what time it is she would tell you how to build a clock

    2 of 75 people found this review helpful
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