Classical Mythology

Please note: this is archived course information from 2021 for ANCIENT 110.


In this course you will learn about the myths of ancient Greece and Rome: about gods, heroes, heroines, and monsters. We will put Greek and Roman myths in their social and historical context, identifying the important cultural and religious roles that myths served in Greco-Roman history. We will touch on the ‘afterlife’ of Greek and Roman myths in later culture. We will consider Greco-Roman mythology from a local perspective, considering similarities and differences with the traditional stories and figures of Aotearoa New Zealand, such as Ranginui and Papatūānuku, Hineahuone, and Māui.

We will also focus on how myths were transmitted. The Greeks and Romans first shared their myths in oral form for hundreds of years, before starting to write down their stories and make art depicting them. We will read versions of the myths written up in different styles/genres. We will examine epics, religious hymns, a tragedy, and a history, to see how different genres shaped the presentation of myths. We will also examine some artworks that portray myths, and consider what function these artistic representations had for the Greeks or Romans. Throughout the course, we will anchor our examination of literature and art in discussions of the oral transmission and oral history of Greco-Roman mythology, treating orality as an integral part of the ancient cultures.

Topics Covered

  • definitions of mythology 
  • the roles that mythology played in ancient Greece and Rome
  • myth cycles, including: the creation of the world, the roles, presence and functions of gods and goddesses, the deeds of heroes and heroines, and the relationships between the divine world and mortals 
  • the transmission of myths by mouth, page and picture
  • the connection between Greek and Roman mythology and mythology in Aotearoa New Zealand


Coursework plus Exam

Availability 2021

Semester 1


Lecturer(s) Dr Maxine Lewis


ANCIENT 110: 15 points


CLASSICS 110, 110G