Academic year
2020/2021 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
FM0446 (AF:334287 AR:181178)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
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his class is integrated in the disciplines characterizing the course in Ancient Philology, Literatures and History, and in the supplementary and complementary disciplines for the course in Archaeology. It contributes to the fulfilment of the learning objectives of the course(s) insofar as, beyond enabling students to improve their basic competence in the subject matter, it will provide them with the specific tools to face and analyze the heritage from the past. The class will present critical reading of texts and images created by the ancients with the aim to convey not only a narrative or descriptive and/or religious pattern, but also specific messages with a political and ideological meaning.
After attending the class and preparing for the examen students will acquire a broad perspective and the cultural competence which will enable them to comprehend a phenomenon of primary importance for Greek civilization and also for Western civilization in general. Students will acquire skills that will enable them:
- to display a good knowledge of some seminal myths from the archaic to the imperial age
- to grasp the typical elements and the main features in the mythical narrative as well as the innovations, the experimentation and variants both in literature and iconography
- to show familiarity with the use and abuse of myth in Greek literature and iconography
- to become acquainted with the towering figures of scholars who have investigated myth in literature and iconography

As regards the knowledge and comprehension skills, students will be able:
- to understand the literary texts and the value of the mythical variants they offer
- to grasp the significant details in the mythical narrative conveyed by literature an iconography
- to tell the different styles and modes of expression of mythical narrative within both literary genres in poetry and prose, and the various typologies of manufacturing and monuments (vases, friezes and metope of temples , sculptures or other containers such as the Tabulae Iliacae)
- to comment on the literary texts and on the images, and also be aware of their debt towards tradition and of the influence of the context in which they are produced

Regarding their skill in evaluating the texts, students shall be able to prove:
- they can detect the various problems presented by a myth in a specific medium and comment on the various aspects pertaining to the subject
- to grasp the various aims and modes of expression in the written versions and/or in their representation through images such as, for instance the political or religious purpose/function, and the deliberate allusion and intertextuality

Communication skills. At the end of the year students will prove, by means also of a final paper on a specific text and group of images they will present at the end of the year, they can produce a commentary on images and text, present it and discuss it in a public performance.
The class is open to students with an interest in Greek myth and in the manyfold ways it was narrated in various literary genres (such as epic and lyric poetry, tragedy, mythography and descriptions of works of art) and represented in vase painting or in the decoration of temples or other media. Most classical texts will be read in Italian; however, a basic knowledge of Greek is recommended for a better understanding of the texts and of key words still lingering in Italian language. Students are reminded that at Ca' Foscari they have the opportunity to take up Greek from scratch by attending the Laboratorio di greco, which runs through 3 modules.
The class will focus on a selection of literary texts such as epic and lyric poetry and tragedy, along with prose treatises such as the library of Apollodorus (a myhtographical treatise), excerpts from Pausanias' description of Greece and from Philostratus' Imagines. These texts narrate some of the most important myths (Heracles, Oedipus and the Seven against Thebes, the deeds of Theseus, Meleager, Medea and Jason, Helen, Achilles and Troilus, and several episodes related to the fall of Troy), with the aim to interpret the meaning of such myths, to compare the variants, style and expression in narrating the same story, and to suggest - where it may looking feasible - a chronological development of various myths. The literary versions will then be confronted with the different representation of the same episodes in Greek art, in particular on vases and in the friezes and metopai of temples, or on other manufacts (such as the ark of Cypselos), with a focus on the different style and purposes, and on the reception of Greek myths in Roman art. In this respect I shall deal with a small corpus of texts of various dating which go under the name of Tabulae Iliacae. They are focused on the key episodes of the war at Troy and of the pillage of the city, and the clarity of some scenes often creates a sharp contrast with the quotation of some sources purported to be behind the images.
Selected excerpts from the Library of the mythographer Apollodorus, from Pausanias Description of Greece and from Philostratus Imagines; selected passages from epic, lyric, and tragic texts. A selection of Tabulae Iliacae illustrations from vases, temple decoration, and statues. A copy of the texts will be provided by the faculty in the class, or else displayed through powerpoint. A bibliography on specific myths or mythical characters will also be provided during the class.
A provisional bibliography is listed here below:

Editions, commentaries and translations of ancient sources.
For Apollodorus' Library: Apollodoro. I Miti Greci. a cura di P. Scarpi. Traduzione di M. G. Ciani, Fondazione Lorenzo Valla-Mondadori 2008, con Introd., testo greco, trad. e commento; Apollodoro. Biblioteca, traduzione di G. Guidorizzi, note di J, G. Frazer, Adelphi 1995 (2.a ed.).
For Pausanias: Pausania. Guida della Grecia, trad., introd. comm. di AAVV, 10 voll., Fondazione Lorenzo Valla-Mondadori 1982-2017; Pausania. Viaggio in Grecia, trad. di S. Rizzo, testo greco a fronte, 9 voll., BUR.
For Philostratus: Immagini, Testo greco, introd., trad. e comm. a cura di L. Abbondanza, Torino 2008; La Pinacoteca di Filostrato Maggiore, a cura di G. Pucci, Palermo 2010 (available in pdf).

Readings on the study of myth and mythography: F. Graf, Il mito in Grecia, Roma-Bari 1987; E. Pellizer, 'La mitografia', In Lo spazio letterario della Grecia antica. Vol. 1.2. a cura di G. Cambiano et al., Roma 1993: 283–303; T. Gantz, Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, 2 voll., Baltimore 1993; D. Castriota, Myth, Ethos, and Actuality. Official Art in Fifth- cent. BC Athens, Madison 1992, chapts. 2-3.
On the relation between image and text: M. Schmidt, 'L'iconografia del mito', in S. Settis, I Greci. Storia Cultura Arte Società 2 II, Torino 1997: 867-96; N. Himmelmann, 'Narrative and figure in archaic art', in Reading Greek Art, Princeton 1998, 67-90; S. Woodford, Images of myths in classical Antiquity, Cambridge 2003, cap. 2, 4; S. Woodford, ‘Displaying Myth: the Visual Arts’, in K. Dowden, N. Livingstone, A Companion to Greek Mythology, Chichester 2011: 157-78 ; R. M. Cook, Art and Epic in Archaic Greece, BABesch 58-1983: 1–10; M. Squire, Image and Text in Graeco-Roman Antiquity, Cambridge 2009, chapts. 2, 3.
Per le Tabulae Iliacae: A. Sadurska, Les tables iliaques, Varsavia 1964; N. Horsfall, Stesichorus at Bovillae?, «JHS» 99, 1979, 26-48; G. Scafoglio, ‘Virgilio e Stesicoro. Una ricerca sulla ‘Tabula Iliaca Capitolina”, RhMusPhil 148 (2005) 113-27; M. Squire, 'Texts on the tables: the Tabulae Iliacae in their Hellenistic literary context', JHS, 130 (2010) 67–96; M. Squire, The Iliad in a Nutshell: Visualizing Epic on the Tabulae Iliacae, Oxford 2011; D. Petrain, Homer in Stone: The 'Tabulae Iliacae' in their Roman Context. Greek culture in the Roman world, Cambridge 2014.

Syllabus for students who cannot attend the class: lettura di Pausania 3.18.6-19.6 (descrizione del trono di Amicle); Pausania 5.17.5 – 19.10 (descrizione dell'arca di Cipselo); Pausania 10.25.5-27.2 (Ilioupersis nella lesche dei Cnidi a Delfi); Apollodoro, Biblioteca 3.4.4-7.7 (Edipo e la guerra di Tebe); Apollodoro, Epitome 2-7 (la guerra di Troia). F. Graf, Il mito in Grecia, Roma-Bari 1987: E. Pellizer, 'La mitografia', In Lo spazio letterario della Grecia antica. Vol. 1.2. a cura di G. Cambiano et al., Roma 1993: 283–303; M. Schmidt, 'L'iconografia del mito', in S. Settis, I Greci. Storia Cultura Arte Società 2 II, Torino 1997: 867-96; N. Himmelmann, 'Narrative and figure in archaic art', in Reading Greek Art Princeton 1998, 67-90; C. Isler-Kereny, 'Immagini di Medea', in Medea nella letteratura e nell'arte , a cura di B. Gentili - F. Perusino,
The students' competence in the class of ‘Le fonti greche del mito: letteratura e iconografia’ 'magistrale' will be tested through an oral examination, consisting in a number of questions, such as a) extended knowledge of a myth and of its most famous or significant versions, b) further questions will concern the texts (Pausanias, Apollodorus) to be read in Italian; the two essays to be selected from the readings, and to be agreed upon previously with the faculty. All texts will be provided by the faculty. At the end of the year students are requested to present in class a short paper, consisting in the analysis of a myth conveyed both by literary and iconographic sources; as an alternative, they may choose to present a short paper focusing on a topic agreed upon with the faculty, dealing with a myth or with literary or philological or anthropological themes.
Traditional teacher-led classes, with a seminar oriented approach. At the end of the year students are requested to present in class a short paper, consisting in an analysis of a myth conveyed both by literary and iconographic sources. The topic will be previously agreed upon with the faculty. As an alternative, students may choose to present a short paper expanding on a myth or on literary, philological or anthropological themes dealt with in class, by previous agreement with the faculty

This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "Human capital, health, education" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 13/07/2020