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CLASSICS 1B03 Intro To Ancient Myth And Lit

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Kathryn Mattison


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 705

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24577

Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday 2:30-3:30

Course Objectives:

The goal of this class is to introduce students to some of the most important and representative examples of literature from the Ancient Greek and Roman worlds.  We will discuss how mythology was used and shaped by Greek and Roman authors, and how literature developed over time.  Along with our examination of the inter-connectedness of myth and literature, we will discuss different literary genres to understand: how they evolved; how and why they were used; and how myth was an integral part of they way the Greeks and Romans thought about themselves and their world.  By the end of the semester, students should: have a good understanding of some of the basic ‘families’ of myth; be comfortable discussing questions relating to the literature both orally (in tutorial) and in formal academic writing; and have a good understanding of the different genres of literature.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Stephen Russell.  Readings in Classical Literature. Volumes 1, 2, & 3.  Radix Antiqua Publishing. 


Method of Assessment:

Quizzes                                                                                                           15%

Three quizzes will be written online (on Avenue to Learn), worth 5% each. 

  • #1: Wednesday, September 27th
  • #2: Wednesday, November 1st
  • #3: Wednesday November 22nd

Assignment 1                                                                                                 15%

  • A written assignment due in class on Wednesday, October 4th

Assignment 2                                                                                                 30%

  • An essay due in class on Wednesday, November 15th

Participation                                                                                                  10%

  • Attendance and participation in tutorials

Final Exam                                                                                                    30%

  • Date TBD

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

  • Because the quizzes will be completed online, there are no make-up quizzes.  Students who miss a quiz due to severe illness or grievous personal distress must provide appropriate documentation and will have the weight of the missed quiz transferred to the next element of the course requirements.  Only illness and grievous personal distress are considered valid reasons for missing a quiz. It is your responsibility to ensure that you complete the quizzes on time.  
  • Any student wishing to request a re-read of a written assignment must wait at least 24 hours from having it returned and must submit a written request to the person who marked it outlining the reasons for the request.  If you are still dissatisfied with the grade after meeting with your TA, you may then submit the essay, along with a written explanation outlining your dissatisfaction, to me for evaluation.  Please note that I have full faith in the TAs to perform a fair assessment of your work and that any reassessment may result in an increase or decrease in the initial mark assigned.
  • Your first written assignment is due in class on October 4th.   Late assignments will lose 3% per day (including weekends).  Should you require an extension, you must arrange one with your TA before the due date.  Extensions will only be granted in cases of illness or grievous personal distress; general midterm busyness or extra-curricular activities are not suitable reasons for extensions.
  • Your essay is due in class on November 15th.  Late essays will lose 5% per day (including weekends). Should you require an extension, you must arrange one with your TA before the due date.  Extensions will only be granted in cases of illness or grievous personal distress; general midterm busyness or extra-curricular activities are not suitable reasons for extensions.
  • The date and time of the final examination will be set by the office of the registrar.  I cannot offer the exam at a different time for any reason.      

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Schedule of Readings


September 11-15 

Lecture 1: Background to the Trojan War (no readings)

Tutorial:  Iliad 1: p. 1-16

Lecture 2:  Iliad 3, 6, 7: p. 17-49

September 18-22

Lecture 1: Iliad  9, 12: p. 49-73

Tutorial: Iliad 14: p. 74-85

Lecture 2: Iliad 16, 18, 19: p. 85-126  

September 25-29   

Lecture 1: Iliad 22, 24: p. 126-156

Tutorial: Odyssey 1: p. 157-166

Lecture 2: Odyssey 4, 5, 6: p. 166-203        

October 2-6

Lecture 1: Odyssey 9, 11: p. 204-228

Tutorial: Odyssey 14: p.  229-242

Lecture 2: Odyssey 19, 21, 22: p. 242-275

October 16-20

Lecture 1: Odyssey 23, 24: p. 275-294   

Tutorial: Tyrtaeus 9; Mimnermus 2; Solon 3; Sappho 1: (Volume 2) p. 5-9

Lecture 2: Apollonius, The Argonautica, book 3: p. 10-42

October 23-27   

Lecture 1: Apollonius, The Argonautica, book 3: p. 10-42

Tutorial: Agamemnon: p. 43-83

Lecture 2: Libation Bearers:  p. 84-118

October 30-November 3

Lecture 1: The Furies: p. 119-151

Tutorial: No readings.  Discussion of Aristotle and Plato’s views on tragedy.

Lecture 2: Oedipus the King: p. 152-187  

November 6-10  

Lecture 1: The Bacchae: p. 188-238

Tutorial: Sappho 31, Catullus 51: p. 239-240

Lecture 2: Catullus 64: p. 240-250

November 13-17

Lecture 1: Horace Satire 5: p. 251-254

Tutorial: Aeneid 1: (Volume 3) p. 1-27

Lecture 2: Aeneid 2, 4: p. 28-79

November 20-24

Lecture 1: Aeneid 6: p. 79-110

Tutorial: Aeneid 7: p. 111-140

Lecture 2: Aeneid 8, 11: p. 141-203    

November  27-December 1

Lecture 1: Aeneid 12: p. 204-237

Tutorial: Last Tutorial. No readings. Review, exam prep.

Lecture 2: Ovid Art of Love: (Volume 2) p. 255-278

December 4-6

*No Tutorials the week of December 4.

Lecture 1: : Ovid Art of Love: (Volume 2) p. 255-278

Lecture 2: Review/How to write a great exam

Other Course Information:

  • Please feel free to contact me or your TA in person, by phone or by email with any questions or concerns you have about the course.  For specific questions about readings, assignments, extensions, grades, etc., you should contact your TA. 
  • When communicating by email, always include the course code (Classics 1B03) in the subject line.  I try to respond to student email within 24 hours.  Having said that, you should never expect or demand a response within 24 hours of a quiz, assignment due date, or exam.
  • It is your responsibility to attend all lectures and tutorials. In order to ensure that all students receive the same information, I do not repeat or summarize missed lectures (neither do the Teaching Assistants). If you must be absent, it is your responsibility to obtain notes from a classmate.