Concepts of Art and Literature from Homer to Aristotle

30 points

Not offered 2023, offered in 2019, 2022

For further information see Humanities


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.


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