When I first read the Iliad of Homer on my own, I thought it a hyper-violent war story with deeply unsympathetic characters who let petty disputes plu..Show More »nge their societies into disaster. However, Professor Vandiver's lectures gaves the historical and cultural background for the Iliad, helping me to understand why Agamemnon's actions were so deeply insulting to Achilles, while also illuminating how the Iliad is a timeless work of literature that speaks to the human condition today. These lectures are a must if you want to really understand this famous epic.
All of Prof. Vandiver's lectures on classical literature are highly recommended for anyone even the slightest bit interested in the subject. She brings so much background and insight to the great tales of Ancient Greece, illuminating small points that I overlooked when reading on my own. In addition, she is a first-rate lecturer, and keeps her discussions engaging throughout. Her conversational tone keeps her lectures free from the pedantry and pretentiousness that some lecturers suffer from. I have all of her Teaching Company courses, and love all of them.
Yes I will definitely listen to this again. Its chalk full of information on the symbolism, characters, and political climate that existed in Italy a..Show More »round the time Dante wrote the Commedia. The first listen has given me an over view of the work. I will go back to fill in the details with my own copy of the translation so that I can experience the work as it was meant to be experienced.
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 the..Show More »ir 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.
Want to be a serious reader, but don't have the time or energy to deal with all of the classics? This course gives a passionate and entertaining overv..Show More »iew of alternatives to some of the hard-to-digest classics, and some great advice on getting more out of any reading.
Professor Elizabeth Vandiver provides a clear and succinct portrayal of Greek Tragedy. The lectures discuss how tragedy was developed, the three extan..Show More »t tragic playwrights, as well as the ways in which Greek Tragedy was staged. For as a professional theatre artist myself, I think many people look at Greek Tragedy as simply literature but in truth it was meant to be preformed. Professor Vandiver's facts are well researched and when she does give her own scholarly opinion she informs the listener. She also is very clear that the evidence on which our knowledge of this period are based is very scant, therefore the listeners should also be cautious of taking opinions as fact. However, I would warn a listeners that if you do not have a basic knowledge of Greek Mythology and/or Greek Theatre you may have a hard time following parts of the lecture. This course does assume that you come to the table with some knowledge.
Professor Markos is a passionate teacher on the history of poetry. I was a little disappointed that he was only covering poetry when I started the cou..Show More »rse, but quickly got engrossed in his lectures because he has organized the course very well and so some of the more difficult concepts of that emerge in the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries were very well explained.
However, when Prof. Markos gets to the 20th century, it becomes very clear just how disenchanted he is with even modernity, not to mention post-modernity. His derision is obvious and unhelpful. Primarily because, for instance, people like Derrida are some of the hardest philosophers to understand when it comes to literature. I could have used less derision and more information.
I really enjoyed both this and The Iliad. The professor is knowledgeable and fleshed out the story. But she retained the sense of wonder at the enormo..Show More »us achievement So much of Homeric studies have lost the amazement at wonder at an amazing work of literature by focusing too much on the mechanics of who and how.
But it is very obvious that this and The Iliad were one course. She references back to things form the previous course and does not include the introductory lectures on Homer, which are necessary. And she refers to it as a Homer course. I did listen to The Iliad first so this was no loss for me but if you don't then you are losing something. More importantly a very obvious way to scam credits off of people by Audible.
I bought the Aeneid reasd by Fredrick Davidson a while ago and though this might be a good go with to learn some interesting facts and look at the tex..Show More »t critically.
Prof. Vandiver clearly has a problem - she must have been told by Great Course (similar to first students) there was no reason to believe people taking the course would (or had) read the book. A great deal of the course is therefore a summary of the event in the book. You could pretty much skip most of the book and understand what going on. Which is a shame because clearly when she REALLY talking as a professor the course she is basing this on is a comparison of Homer and Virgil. The course that she pull from sounds interesting and in gauging but you don't get much.
There were more lectures in this long set of lectures (48) on the classic age than any other, twenty something rather than the ten for the other perio..Show More »ds. I wasn't convinced that was necessary, obscure Greek and Roman poets get their own lecture while medieval and Renaissance literature are just scanned. There is exposure to French and Spanish authors that we rarely get in English Lit. Doing these works chronologically, you can see how one period builds on another, except for the classics. I can see the attention paid to the greats but I simply didn't enjoy the first part as much as the last.
This course is well-named. It presents the works in context, especially in context with each other. I enjoyed it, especially the segments on Jane Aust..Show More »en and Tolkien. The professor is clear, engaging and focused.
This course is an excellent introduction and overview of world mythology. It covers a lot of ground, and does it well. While I would recommend it to a..Show More »nyone, I need to add the following caveats:
Because it covers so much ground, it moves as a very brisk speed, and in some cases I would have preferred to get more depth (for example, more detail on some of the hero myths, and more discussion of the psychological interpretation of myth, a la Rank, Jung and Campbell). Dr. Voth did a really good job of covering the material, but there's enough here for two or even three lecture series.
Second, I found my interest waning slightly in during the latter part of the course. This may have been because (while he never says so) Prof. Voth seems to be suggesting a kind of monomyth for trickster myths (similar to the monomyth of the hero). While I thought the argument and evidence presented for the hero monomyth was compelling, it seemed that the trickster myths were much more diverse (hard to see an parallel between the Norse Loki and the African Anansi as presented here, for example).
Still, the course material was very engaging, and I will definitely be broadening my study of mythology as a result.
I thought this was completely informative and enjoyable. It does what courses like this do best by taking a topic you know a little bit about and just..Show More » expanding it. At first, I was skeptical about the Professor but I was wrong. She was knowledgeable and easy to follow. But she also seemed to just genuinely enjoy the topic and have a lot of affection for Herodotus (as odd as that sounds by the end I did too), which really makes you get into it.
The Histories really were an amazing achievement from a person who seemed to be maybe naive maybe intentionally deceptive but, regardless, endlessly curious and inquisitive about just everything. Not just the wars but culture, religion, science. And the Professor conveys that along with conveying facts.
It obviously seems like a narrow and niche topic to pick up. But I really think it is worth it. It really covers a lot about the history of history and of the time. The Professor talks about how Herodotus influences others (even as they were disdainful of him) but I think that has never been more relevant. She doesn't get into it but at this point there is an "oral history" on every topic imaginable floating around. Some are considered classics (Please Kill Me, Live From New York and most of Studs Terkel). And some aren't. But the idea of learning about a topic and a place in time by just talking to a bunch of people and relating what they say word for word even if one contradicts the other has definitely come back into vogue in a very big way. That approach has a lot of flaws when it comes to relating facts and dates (so traditional history is of course important) but it often captures the mood, the feelings, the idea of a place (the real truth) in a way relating the facts can't. And, in that sense, Herodotus has truly never been more relevant.
Who was Gorky? What made Tolstoy tick? Why was Pushkin a great poet? If you have any interest at all in great literature, get this course! Pr..Show More »of. Weil not only delivers a compelling study of these and many other authors, but does so in English and Russian (which he speaks so beautifully you might feel compelled to try it yourself). The history and literature of this tragic country has never been told with such understanding and respect ( governments not withstanding). I can not recommend enough! Get this book! But be ready, now its time to listen to War and Peace, Dr Zhivago, The Brother Karamazov, and The Gulag Archipelago, and about fifteen others! Can't wait!
This course is about exploring the greatest books ever written that changed the world. It also explains why they are great and how they affected ..Show More »those around them. Professor Fears is a great lecturer and always keeps things interesting. Each lecture is around a half hour each so great to listen to on your commute or when you have a short time to devote to the lecture.
The books per Prof. Fears are: 1. Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer 2. Homer 's Illyiad 3. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius 4. Bhagavad Gita 5. Exodus by Moses 6. The book of Mark in the New Testament 7. Koran 8. Gilgamesh 9. Beowolf 10. Job 11. Oresteia by Aeschylus 12. The Bacchae by Euripides 13. Phaedo by Plato 14. The Divine Comedy by Dante 15. Othello by W Shakespeare 16. Prometheus Bound 17. Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn 18. Julius Caesar by W Shakespeare 19. 1984 by George Orwell 20. The Aeneid by Virgil 21. Gettysburg Address by A Lincoln 22. Pericles Funeral Speech 23. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque 24. Confucius 25. The Prince by Machiavelli 26. Plato's Republic 27. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill 28. Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Mallory 29. Faust Parts One and Two by Goethe 30. Walden by Henry David Thoreau 31. Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbons 32. Lord Acton's History of Liberty 33. On Duties by Cicero 34. Autobiography of Mohandas Gandhi 35. My Early Life, The Second World War series and Painting as a Pastime by Winston Churchill The last lecture goes over the books quickly and talks about the lessons taught and that the best way to pursue knowledge is to open your minds and meditate on each book in order to let what the author is trying to tell you sink in. I highly recommend this class. It opened up a whole new world to explore for me.