Classics 150: Ancient Greek and Roman Monsters

Will Brockliss
Humanities, Elementary  
3 credits

Ancient monsters were forces of chaos that threatened the natural order of the universe: they had to be contained, banished to the edges of the world or destroyed. But the Greeks and Romans also believed them to be magical beings that held the promise of special knowledge – of the past, of dangers to be faced, of musical arts – or which, like the Sphinx, possessed an enigmatic intelligence capable of fooling all but the most cunning of mortals. In this course, students investigate these contrasting aspects of ancient monsters, drawing directly on texts (in translation) and works of art through which the Greeks and Romans explored the monstrous and its place in their world. Students will also compare ancient representations with those in modern artistic media – comics, games, poems and movies – considering both how our notions of the monstrous are influenced by those of our ancient predecessors, and how our very identities are created by and enacted through our depictions of monsters.