The Great Courses: Western Literature

18 books in series
4.5 out of 5 stars 6,045 ratings

The Iliad of Homer Publisher's Summary

For thousands of years, Homer's ancient epic poem the Iliad has enchanted readers from around the world. When you join Professor Vandiver for this lecture series on the Iliad, you'll come to understand what has enthralled and gripped so many people.

Her compelling 12-lecture look at this literary masterpiece - whether it's the work of many authors or the "vision" of a single blind poet - makes it vividly clear why, after almost 3,000 years, the Iliad remains not only among the greatest adventure stories ever told but also one of the most compelling meditations on the human condition ever written.

As you'll learn, the grandeur and immediacy of Homer's world would seem to defy time and space. Throughout these lectures, you'll explore this legendary era in brilliant, unforgettable hues. You'll meet its towering heroes who thirst for honor and the gods who inspired and instigated them. You'll go deep inside the shattering battles at Troy that act out mankind's awesome passions for glory, love, and vengeance. But more than that, you'll focus on the timeless human issues this masterpiece raises, all of them evoked by the power of a single dramatic question: Why does Achilles rage? The limits of freedom, the common humanity we share, the line between justice and revenge, the nature of destiny, the meaning of life - Professor Vandiver uses the Iliad as a potent lens through which to study them all.

©1999 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1999 The Great Courses
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    • The Iliad of Homer

    • By: Elizabeth Vandiver, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Elizabeth Vandiver
    • Length: 6 hrs and 4 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 637
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 572
    • Story
      5 out of 5 stars 568

    For thousands of years, Homer's ancient epic poem the Iliad has enchanted readers from around the world. When you join Professor Vandiver for this lecture series on the Iliad, you'll come to understand what has enthralled and gripped so many people.Her compelling 12-lecture look at this literary masterpiece -whether it's the work of many authors or the "vision" of a single blind poet - makes it vividly clear why, after almost 3,000 years, the Iliad remains not only among the greatest adventure stories ever told but also one of the most compelling meditations on the human condition ever written.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Great!

    • By Audible Fan on 11-29-15

    Regular price: $14.95

    • Dante's Divine Comedy

    • By: The Great Courses, Ronald B. Herzman, William R. Cook
    • Narrated by: Ronald B. Herzman, William R. Cook
    • Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 493
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 452
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 451

    Professors Cook and Herzman provide you with an illuminating introduction to one of the greatest works ever written. One of the most profound and satisfying of all poems, The Divine Comedy (or Commedia) of Dante Alighieri is a book for life. In a brilliantly constructed narrative of his imaginary guided pilgrimage through the three realms of the Christian afterlife, Dante accomplished a literary task of astonishing complexity. In these twenty-four lectures, as you follow Dante on his journey, you'll learn how medieval literature offers insights into fundamental questions.

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • The Commedia for Modern Readers

    • By Patti on 08-25-13

    Regular price: $34.95

    • Classical Mythology

    • By: Elizabeth Vandiver, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Elizabeth Vandiver
    • Length: 12 hrs and 28 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,560
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,382
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,373

    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.

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • Very Informative and Entertaining

    • By Matt on 01-29-14

    Regular price: $34.95

    • The Skeptic's Guide to the Great Books

    • By: Grant L. Voth, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Grant L. Voth
    • Length: 6 hrs and 10 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars 95
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 79
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 81

    Daunted by the "great big books" of the Western canon? Looking for the same pleasures, satisfactions, and insights from books that are shorter, more accessible, and less dependent on classical references and difficult language than tomes such as Moby-Dick and Ulysses?

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Thoroughly enjoyable!

    • By libbromus on 06-18-17

    Regular price: $14.95

    • Understanding Literature and Life: Drama, Poetry and Narrative

    • By: Arnold Weinstein, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Arnold Weinstein
    • Length: 32 hrs and 49 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 162
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 142
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 140

    The major texts of Western culture are a gateway to wisdom that can widen your views on self and society in enduring ways. And now you can examine its most important works - whether drama, poetry, or narrative - in this series of 64 penetrating lectures that reveal astonishing common ground.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Great Course, Great Professor, Great Book!

    • By AnneN on 08-05-14

    Regular price: $59.95

    • Greek Tragedy

    • By: Elizabeth Vandiver, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Elizabeth Vandiver
    • Length: 12 hrs and 30 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 181
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 162
    • Story
      5 out of 5 stars 161

    Greek tragedy was a dramatic form that flourished for less than a full century. And yet it remains vibrant, alive, and productive today. And the form's masterpieces help us-as perhaps they helped their original audiences-grasp a fuller sense of the terror and wonder of life. Professor Vandiver has designed these 24 rich and rewarding lectures to give you a full overview of Greek tragedy, both in its original setting and as a lasting contribution to the artistic exploration of the human condition.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Theatre History Done Right!

    • By Joshua on 10-19-13

    Regular price: $34.95

    • From Plato to Post-modernism: Understanding the Essence of Literature and the Role of the Author

    • By: Louis Markos, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Louis Markos
    • Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 97
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 84
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 84

    Any lover of Shakespeare or the Romantic poets can concede that poetry is pleasurable. But is it good for you? Can it teach you anything? These are questions that have beguiled and engaged eminent critics for millennia, and now you can develop your own answers and options with these 24 lectures.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Passionate Profesdor

    • By Jennifer on 01-01-15

    Regular price: $34.95

    • The Odyssey of Homer

    • By: Elizabeth Vandiver, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Elizabeth Vandiver
    • Length: 6 hrs and 5 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      5 out of 5 stars 419
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 379
    • Story
      5 out of 5 stars 376

    What is it in Homer's Odyssey that has so enthralled readers from around the world for thousands of years? By joining Professor Vandiver for these 12 lectures on the Odyssey, you'll find out why.This literary exploration centers on a single provocative question about the epic poem's protagonist, Odysseus: Why does he long so powerfully to go home? To probe the depths of this question, you'll embark on meticulous, insightful examinations of the most important episodes in the Odyssey.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Another Great Course of a Greak Greek Classic

    • By SAMA on 01-14-14

    Regular price: $14.95

    • The Aeneid of Virgil

    • By: Elizabeth Vandiver, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Elizabeth Vandiver
    • Length: 6 hrs and 8 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 233
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 212
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 207

    The Aeneid is the great national epic of ancient Rome, and one of the most important works of literature ever written. And with Professor Vandiver's 12 instructive lectures, you'll enter fully into the gripping tale that Virgil tells. Join Aeneas on his long journey west from ruined Troy to the founding of a new nation in Italy, and see how he weaves a rich network of compelling human themes. Your encounter with the Aeneid focuses on careful, detailed examinations of the epic's background, main themes, and significant episodes.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Consider this preparatory material

    • By Amazon Customer on 07-26-16

    Regular price: $14.95

    • Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition, 2nd Edition

    • By: The Great Courses, Elizabeth Vandiver, James A. W. Heffernan
    • Narrated by: Elizabeth Vandiver, James A. W. Heffernan
    • Length: 42 hrs and 56 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 167
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 144
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 146

    From the anonymous author of the Epic of Gilgamesh in ancient Mesopotamia to William Faulkner writing about Mississippi 3,600 years later, many of Western culture's greatest figures have been writers. Their landmark themes, unique insights into human nature, dynamic characters, experimental storytelling techniques, and rich philosophical ideas helped create the vibrant storytelling methods we find reflected in today's authors.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Great Authors Without the Term Papers

    • By Bryan on 09-11-13

    Regular price: $59.95

    • The Western Literary Canon in Context

    • By: John M. Bowers, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: John M. Bowers
    • Length: 18 hrs and 59 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 71
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 57
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 56

    What exactly is the Western literary canon? Why does it contain certain works and not others? And what do particular works in the Western canon tell us about the development of literature and civilization? Explore these and other thought-provoking lectures with a thorough investigation of more than 30 key works of the Western canon and the critical roles they played-and continue to play-in the development of Western literature.

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • Nice set of lectures

    • By Gallila on 05-02-15

    Regular price: $41.95

    • Life Lessons from the Great Books

    • By: J. Rufus Fears, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: J. Rufus Fears
    • Length: 18 hrs and 15 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 144
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 131
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 130

    Study more than three dozen works that span the timelines of Western history, from ancient Greece and Rome to the modern age. Whether written 2,000, 200, or 20 years ago, the enduring works of literature still speak to us and place our unique experiences into a larger perspective, offering invaluable lessons for every important moment in life. Every Great Book you explore over these 36 insightful lectures - from the Odyssey and the Gospel of John to Hamlet and Animal Farm.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Interesting but a bit scattered by Prof. Fears

    • By R. Hansen on 09-30-14

    Regular price: $41.95

    • Myth in Human History

    • By: Grant L. Voth, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Grant L. Voth
    • Length: 18 hrs and 27 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 355
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 315
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 317

    Myths provide the keys to truly grasping the ways that principles, rituals, codes, and taboos are woven into the fabric of a particular society or civilization. It's through myths that we can answer these and other fundamental questions: How was the universe created, and why? What is the purpose of evil? Why is society organized the way it is? How did natural features like rivers, mountains, and oceans emerge?This entertaining and illuminating course plunges you into the world's greatest myths.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Five stars, with some caveats

    • By Walter on 01-29-14

    Regular price: $41.95

    • Herodotus: The Father of History

    • By: Elizabeth Vandiver, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Elizabeth Vandiver
    • Length: 12 hrs and 17 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 182
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 162
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 159

    Witness the "works and wonders" of the ancient world through the eyes of its first great historian in this sparkling series of 24 lectures from a much-honored teacher and classical scholar.Herodotus (c. 484-420 B.C.E.) was a Greek who was born in what is now the modern Turkish resort town of Bodrum and who died, so tradition says, in the south of Italy. In between, his tirelessly inquiring mind took him from one corner of the known world to another.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Really Loved It

    • By Betsy on 09-15-13

    Regular price: $34.95

    • Masterpieces of Ancient Greek Literature

    • By: David J. Schenker, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: David J. Schenker
    • Length: 18 hrs and 24 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 121
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 106
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 102

    The ancient Greeks left the world that came after them-particularly our own and our ways of seeing it-an incalculable legacy. Mention politics, philosophy, law, medicine, history, even the visual arts, and we barely scratch the surface of what we owe this extraordinary culture. How can we best learn about these people who have given us so much, who have deepened and enriched our understanding of ourselves, and whose world remains far closer than we might imagine? The 36 lectures of this sparkling series from a frequently honored teacher is an outstanding place to begin.

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • Great Overview of Greek Literature!

    • By Christopher on 04-04-15

    Regular price: $41.95

    • Classics of Russian Literature

    • By: The Great Courses, Irwin Weil
    • Narrated by: Irwin Weil
    • Length: 17 hrs and 28 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 250
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 231
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 227

    Russian literature famously probes the depths of the human soul, and in this series of 36 insightful lectures prepared by a frequently honored teacher legendary among educators in both the United States and Russia-you probe just as deeply into the extraordinary legacy that is Russian Literature itself.Professor Weil introduces you to masterpieces such as Tolstoy's War and Peace, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, Gogol's Dead Souls, Chekhov's The Seagull, Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, and many other great novels, stories, plays, and poems.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Jump in The Troika for A Ride with Dr. Weil!

    • By Rich on 07-15-16

    Regular price: $41.95

    • Medieval Heroines in History and Legend

    • By: Bonnie Wheeler, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Bonnie Wheeler
    • Length: 12 hrs and 12 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars 73
    • Performance
      4 out of 5 stars 65
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 64

    This series of 24 fascinating lectures draws on the latest modern scholarship to explore the lives of four medieval women who still shimmer in the modern imagination: Heloise, the abbess and mistress of Abelard; the prophet Hildegard of Bingen; Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine; and Joan of Arc. These lectures exemplify today's golden age of medieval scholarship, in which the role women played in medieval life is being clarified for the first time.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Great lectures

    • By Jonathan on 05-25-17

    Regular price: $34.95

    • Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life

    • By: Rufus J. Fears, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Rufus J. Fears
    • Length: 18 hrs and 30 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 805
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 729
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 722

    Why do "Great Books" continue to speak to us hundreds and even thousands of years after they were written? Can they deepen our self-knowledge and wisdom? Are our lives changed in any meaningful way by the experience of reading them?Tackle these questions and more in these 36 engaging lectures. Beginning with his definition of a Great Book as one that possesses a great theme of enduring importance, noble language that "elevates the soul and ennobles the mind," and a universality that enables it to "speak across the ages," Professor Fears examines a body of work that offers extraordinary wisdom to those willing to receive it.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • A course that will open you to new ideas.

    • By Kristi R. on 07-06-14

    Regular price: $41.95