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Social Studies

Ancient Roman Literature and Archaeology: Reading and Understanding the Aeneid

In this 8-week course we are going to read and understand the epic journey of Aeneas from the fall of Troy all the way to Italy, and his adventures; a story that was meant to ascribe greater mythological origins to an already glorious Rome.
Spyridon (Spiros) Loumakis
696 total reviews for this teacher
6 reviews for this class
Completed by 13 learners
Class
60 minutes
per class
Once per week
over 8 weeks
12-15
year olds
3-7
learners per class
per learner - per class

How does a "Multi-Day" course work?

Meets multiple times at scheduled times
Live video chats, recorded and monitored for safety and quality
Discussions via classroom forum and private messages with the teacher
Great for engaging projects and interacting with diverse classmates from other states and countries

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Description

Class Experience

First and foremost in my series of ancient Greek and Roman literature classes, the most important goal is for young students, who genuinely love mythology, to read not a modern book about mythology (as they most often do) but an ancient Greek or Roman work containing the original myths.

In this multi-day course in particular, we are going to approach the poem of the Aeneid by keeping the following three observations constantly in our mind:
(i) For the ancient Romans the epic poem Aeneid is a literary work of their glorious past, exalting their own selves and explaining how their great destiny (i.e. to create the Roman Empire) was predetermined by the gods Mars and Venus. 
(ii) It is an epic poem that includes the tales of their own hero Aeneas who belonged to the so-called heroic age of humanity . As most ancient heroes he was a source of inspiration, hope and strength, in order to solve problems and defeat fears, fight dangers and overcome obstacles. Life never comes wiithout them, neither then nor now! 
(iii) It is, also, an epic poem that entails the stories of a hero vis-a-vis gods, monsters, and other heroes, forming a part of the ancient Roman mythology. 

Therefore, in this class 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 Romans. The goal for the students is to learn how Romans were structuring their myths and some of the narrative patterns that they were employing to tell meaningful stories about their gods, in this case about the heroic deeds of Aeneas, a pivotal figure in the foundation of the city of Rome. 

They will learn variations of certain myths of Aeneas and their purpose. And together we will try to interpret and explain them, compare them with other myths, and trace their origins. 

We will put particular emphasis on the role of the gods and goddess and the many roles they fulfill in the epic tale of Aeneas. After all, for the ancient Romans this was the most crucial part. We should better "listen" to them if we want to understand their point of view.

We will discuss together how were these stories played out in the social and artistic life of the ancient Romans. What did the Aeneid mean to men and women of the ancient Roman society? 
I have a BA in Classical History and Archaeology, an MA in ancient Greek and Roman Archaeology and History of Art and an MA in the History and Philosophy of Religions, and I am a PhD Candidate of Religion, specialized in ancient Greek and Roman religions.
The students are asked to read in advance the assigned chapters for each day of the course. If this is not possible for students before every single day of the course, or if students prefer to read some of the rhapsodies before each class , they will still be able to follow the entire course. If they decide to do all the readings, this will help them considerably in terms of class participation, they will absorb the material easier and at the end they will have the pleasure of having read the entire epic poem.
A great series of translations, Oxford World's Classics, which comes from a leading publication house in classical studies, the Oxford University Press, includes a translation of The Aeneid. This is the one I am going to use for myself! Another recommended translation of the Iliad in English is that by Rober Fagles in the series of Penguin Classics. This is an internationally acclaimed series of modern translations that is sometimes available for a lower price in a digital version or as audiobook.
Learners will not need to use any apps or websites beyond the standard Outschool tools.
I do not believe that a letter grade is meaningful for a 8-week course on the Iliad. However, as I often do with my one-time classes, which are always small classes, I communication with the parents and the children directly, providing my personal comments, private feedback and an informal assessment.
1 hour per week in class, and an estimated 2 - 4 hours per week outside of class.
In the ancient Roman art gods are often (but not always) depicted naked. This being said, any artistic reproduction of the Aeneid 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 Roman 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 gods are not mortal humans, and, thus, they do not really need clothes, or that heroes are not just ordinary humans, and need to be singled out with their god-like depiction. 

In addition, and most important of all, the content in the Aeneid is sometimes sensitive to younger readers. In this class students are required to read the entire poem, book by book for 8 weeks, but I am not going, of course, to discuss these parts, as for example when the hero is feeling a great physical attraction for a woman or a heroine. There are way bigger issues dealt by Virgil in this poem. However, if students raise any of the sensitive issues in class, I cannot pretend they are not there. They are part of the work. Sooner or later, they will learn that the Aeneid and Roman literature are the basis of western literature, considered masterpieces and world intellectual heritage, and that this does not mean they are polished, good-looking Hollywood movies. Humans are not like this, and the Aeneid reflects that.

Teacher

Spyridon (Spiros) Loumakis
🇨🇦
Lives in Canada
PhD Candidate, Professional Researcher, Active Scholar, Happy Father
696 total reviews
464 completed classes

About Me

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... 
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