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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

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  •  
    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.



    43 of 43 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. 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.

    28 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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.

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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.

    80 of 82 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saud 01-07-14
    Saud 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.

    15 of 15 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.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 09-02-14
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 09-02-14

    Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enlightening and Entertaining"

    "Classical Mythology" is one of "The Great Courses" doing what this series does best in several ways:

    1) Elizabeth Vandiver is a well-qualified, pleasant-voiced, and obviously enthusiastic lecturer. Her command of the subject and interest in conveying it to the listener is evident.

    2) There's lots for the general listener to learn. My husband and I have listened to the entire course during driving trips. We are perhaps just a bit more-than-average in our acquaintance with Greek mythology through history and literature. We're experiencing the "Percy Jackson" series with our grandson just now and enjoying that very much. This course serves as a great reminder and review of the knowledge we have/had, as well as lots of new information about the gods, heroes and tales of ancient Greece.

    3) Professor Vandiver shares her opinions and even her biases. It's fantastic when listeners can pause the presentation to debate and even argue some of the points made by a teacher. Makes for a thought-provoking and involving experience.

    4) It's unforgettable in lots of ways. The course brings insight into how our society today is still affected by these stories. Vandiver points out ways in which these myths have influenced modern archaeology, psychology, politics, and literature from Shakespeare to comic books.

    Highly recommended as a useful and fun listen!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick Kintigh Chicago, IL USA 08-20-14
    Rick Kintigh Chicago, IL USA 08-20-14 Member Since 2011
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    "A more complex view of Oedipus."
    Any additional comments?

    Elizabeth Vandiver's lectures focus on why we create myth, and what we can infer and deduce from from the historical and contextual references within classical mythology. Through the lectures she does outline several examples of specific myths, traces ancestry of both fictitious and historic persons, and the psychology of myth-making. This was all fun and educational material, but the clear take-away was that I need to read some works by Ovid. He was the Oscar Wilde of ancient Rome and a total badass.

    4 of 4 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.


    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHESTER LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 08-26-14
    CHESTER LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 08-26-14 Member Since 2007

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

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    "CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY"

    Elizabeth Vandiver travels to the past to elucidate the present in 24 lectures about Greek and Roman mythology. Professor Vandiver lectures those who wish to know something new about myths and legends but uncovers no fundamental surprise. Ancient Greek and Roman cultures infer it is a man’s world, a stage set for a future that repeats the same mistake; i.e. women as an afterthought, an extension of man to be treated as property and spoils of war.

    Vandiver acknowledges that some myths may offer insight to the subconscious mind but when taken out of the context of the myth’s time, meaning changes; like a Tragicomic Mask. In its time a myth may be comic; in the future it may be tragic. Vandiver infers that Freud, Jung, Campbell and fellow interpreters of ancient beliefs need to be skeptical about the meaning of myths and legends past.

    Vandiver’s lectures reveal a few of gods’ surprising details but her major contribution is in tempering wild conclusions about the meaning of Greek’ and Roman’ myths in modern times. Mythology is like the American Constitution, a living record modified by time.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen 09-17-14
    Karen 09-17-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent Lectures on Mythology"
    Where does Classical Mythology rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is the first of the Great Courses audiobooks I have read and it was so good I will listen to more. Can not compare with the fictional books I have listened to - different genre.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    NA


    What does Professor Elizabeth Vandiver bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She was a wonderful lecturer who is extremely knowledgeable on her subject. She kept me actively listening the entire time. It was a very complex subject that she gave just enough details for understanding in this basic course. Her voice and manner of speaking kept me engaged.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. I needed to digest the information in between lectures.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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