CLAS326-24S2 (A) Semester Two 2024 (The Arts Centre Christchurch)

Concepts of Art and Literature from Homer to Aristotle

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 15 July 2024
End Date: Sunday, 10 November 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 28 July 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 29 September 2024


Today, all over the world, Greek dramas continue to be performed and adapted; Homer’s epics are forever finding new audiences through new translations, adaptations and interpretation on film and TV; and Greek art attracts millions of people worldwide to galleries, museums and archaeological sites. But what did these works mean to the ancients themselves? In what ways did the Greeks link visual and verbal artforms to other issues such as psychology, ethics, politics and desire? Are modern ways of viewing these ancient works compatible with ancient responses to them or are there vast differences in post-antique ways of reading ancient literary and material culture? If so, what are these differences? Some answers to these and other related questions can be found in looking at ancient writings about the visual and verbal arts in Archaic and Classical Greece and reconsidering these artworks in the light of such writings. This course analyses Greek views of visual imagery (primarily paintings and statues), poetry and rhetoric in the Archaic and Classical Greek world (c. 750-320 BC). Over this period many of the most influential developments in these media were achieved, and critical thinking about art, language and poetry first burgeoned, particularly in the fifth century. In fact, the very terms that have become central to our way of categorising and thinking about visual, verbal and aural artforms - music, poetry, lyric, epic, tragedy, comedy, drama, rhetoric, graphics, mimesis, icon, idol - are all Greek in origin and again indicate the importance of the Greeks’ achievements as practitioners and theorists in these areas, as well as raising issues that speak to us now in the 21st century.

By focusing on texts from the eighth to the fourth centuries BC, this course illuminates the richness of early Greek ideas about visual art and literature down to and including Plato and Aristotle, whose views remain influential, but whose status as founders of western aesthetics has been challenged in recent years.  This course also shows how ancient literary and aesthetic criticism embraced other issues central to Greek speculative thought: psychology, sense perception, ethics and emotion, poetics, rhetoric and erotic desire.  The early Greek reception of artworks and literature thus emerges as an important strand of ancient intellectual history and deepens our understanding of what Greek art and literature could mean to its public, ancient and modern alike.

Learning Outcomes

- Understanding key areas of ancient intellectual history: aesthetics, poetics and rhetoric
- Understanding cultural meanings behind major aspects of Greek art and literature
- Ability to synthesise wide-ranging materials into a coherent whole to produce and informed argument and interpretation
- Ability to recognise to interconnectedness between visual and verbal materials as well as key differences
- Ability to recognise continuities and developments in ideas over time in the ancient Greek world
- Ability to recognise the global legacy of such ideas

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

Employable, innovative and enterprising

Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

Globally aware

Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 30 points at 200 level from CLAS, or
any 60 points at 200 level from the Schedule V of the BA.


CLAS315, CLAS454

Recommended Preparation

One or more of the following: CLAS206 Greek Art; CLAS224/324 Greek Philosophy; CLAS220 Troy and Ancient Epic; CLAS 210 Theatre and Performance in the Ancient World

Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 10:00 - 12:00 A6 Lecture Theatre
15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 12:00 - 13:00 Arts Centre 203 Camerata
15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct

Course Coordinator

Patrick O'Sullivan


Please check the course LEARN page for further details and updates.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,687.00

International fee $7,900.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities .

All CLAS326 Occurrences

  • CLAS326-24S2 (A) Semester Two 2024 (The Arts Centre Christchurch)