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Ancient Greek Mythology And Archaeology: The Heroes Before The Trojan War

Spyridon (Spiros) Loumakis
Average rating:4.9Number of reviews:(741)
In this 17-week online course, students will learn about the origins, the life, the deeds and the death and after-life of ancient Greek Heroes before the Trojan War, through their stories in mythology and their depiction in art.

Class experience

US Grade 6 - 8
In this multi-day class students will learn that the stories of the heroes can basically be divided into two categories: 
One category is that of heroes who struggle against monsters, beasts, giants, and dragons with divine help; their heroic deeds become inspiration for ordinary humans.
The other catogeroy includes those heroes who transmit divine knowledge to humans, like music, medicine, agriculture, bee-keeping and so on; their deeds become a great source of knowledge for ordinary humans.  

Students will understand that the magic of myths lies not only in the stories themselves, fascinating as they are, but in the logic behind them and in their deeper meaning. Myths will be appreciated as a system of beliefs and a way of thinking about the world, as it was created by the ancient Greeks.

The goal for the students is to learn at an introductory level how Greeks were structuring their myths and some of the narrative patterns that they were employing to tell meaningful stories about their heroes. 

We will discuss together how these stories were played out in ancient Greek society, and how ancient Greek artists depicted them. What did they mean to priests and to worshippers, as well as to the political and social elite of ancient Greece.

We will finally delve into an ancient religion with respect, so as to learn from this example two very important lessons: that there is no absolute truth, and that nothing unchangeable in time, when it comes to religious traditions, old and new. 
I have a B.A. in Archaeology and History, an M.A. in Archaeology and History of Art, with specialization in the ancient world, a second M.A. in History and Philosophy of Religions, with specialization in ancient religions, and I am currently a PhD candidate in Religions and Cultures. I speak ancient Greek and Latin, and I am trained in archaeology, in history of art and architecture, as well as in the study of ancient incriptions and ancient coins, which I always use to explain ancient myths or history.
Homework Offered
Homework, designed to take no more than an hour in total per week, will be assigned in two forms: (a) before each meeting students will be asked to study the short hand-out which will be distributed in advance as part of their preparation, and (b) the students will be assigned a certain number of (optional) quizzes, in order to test their memory, attention and observation. These quizzes are not graded. Instead, I send my feedback individually to every singe student based on their answers as a form of communication outside the classroom time and as a second chance to correct anything from the class material that may be misunderstood.
0 - 1 hours per week outside of class
Assessments Offered
I do not believe that a letter grade is meaningful for a multi-day class on mythology. However, as I often do with my one-time classes, which are always small classes (up to 7 students), I communicate with the parents and the children directly, providing my personal comments, private feedback and an informal assessment.
Grades Offered
Learners will not need to use any apps or websites beyond the standard Outschool tools.
(A) In the ancient Greek arts heroes are depicted often (but not always) naked. The Greek word for a naked man is "gymnos" and that is why in English today we say "gymnastics" or "gym" although our children and athletes wear uniforms. This being said, any artistic reproduction in ancient art should be expected to show nude gods. I try to use as less as possible, but it is not always within my hands since this is the nature of the ancient Greek art itself. Since, it is an art that comes from an era where there were no photographs, or videos, the art is found only on painted vases, wall paintings and sculpture. Nudity was never meant to provoke, but to tell to the ancient viewer that heroes are not normal humans and, thus, they looked like the gods who were also depicted nude. As you may very well understand, I cannot change the history of art, nor my preference as teacher of mythology to show students the original art from ancient times.

(B) From my experience at Outschool an entire year and after having taught around 1200 students, I know how to make sure the class material is age-appropriate. However, all ancient mythologies, without exception, contain important stories that are violent in nature, and often touch on sensitive social questions of their times, such as the place of women, slavery-based economy, immoral behavior and the ethics of war. I have never received a negative feedback because I touched upon any of the previous topics, despite the fact that there were times when the class dynamic and the maturity of students in fact allowed their discussion. Sometimes the students themselves started a discussion on one or more of these serious subjects. I never forced them into this discussion, but I also never stopped them. On the contrary, I guided them in order to balance their judgement between an ancient society and our own experience. If this happens during this multi-day class, I will, once again, guide them on how to understand myths that concern sensitive aspects of the ancient Greek society. This is the whole point of mythology. 
As a specialist in the scientific understanding of mythology and a trained historian of ancient societies, I teach that the myths are not just to amuse, but also to explain the world. If there is something wrong in the ancient Greek world, the myths will most certainly reflect it.
Average rating:4.9Number of reviews:(741)
As a father of two young kids, I put a lot of effort so as to entertain them in a productive, and educational way, making sure I feed their natural curiosity and encourage them to keep asking questions. Undoubtedly, television and video games are... 
Group Class


weekly or $340 for 17 classes
1x per week, 17 weeks
60 min

Completed by 11 learners
Live video meetings
Ages: 11-14
3-8 learners per class

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