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CAC2054 : Epic Journeys: The Odyssey and Homeric Epic (stage 2)

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Susanna Phillippo
  • Teaching Assistant: Miss Giulia Bernardini
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The Odyssey: marvellous voyage with a fairy-tale ending, or grim battle for survival in a world of shifting rules? The Homeric epics derive from a long oral tradition, and while they stand at the very beginning of western literature, they are complex and multi-faceted works which have been interpreted in many different ways. This module will examine the Odyssey in the context of the early Greek epic tradition surrounding the Trojan War legend, and, more specifically, will explore its relationship with the other great Homeric epic, the Iliad, studying the parallels and contrasts between portrayals of heroes and heroism, narrative technique, characterization and emotion, and thematic design.

The module aims to train students to use details of a text for analysis and appreciation of:
•Stylistic and narrative design and effects
•Thematic patterns
•The handling of emotional impact
•The handling of character portrayal and of audience sympathies

The module aims to teach students to:
•Identify characteristic features of Homeric narrative technique, including those which reflect the Odyssey’s and the Iliad’s status as works designed for oral performance.
•Explore how these may work for an audience in a performance context, especially in terms of emotional and dramatic effect.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus covers the following topics concerning Homeric epic, as these are manifested in the Odyssey, with comparison to the way similar elements and approaches are manifested in the Iliad at selected points:
Questions of design
Narrative technique:
•plot and thematic patterns
•narrative patterns
•description and narrative
•building themes
•handling narrative climaxes
•presentation of character
The heroic world
Immortals and mortality

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion551:0055:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities81:008:00Activities linked to weekly lecture/workshop/seminar topics
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading641:0064:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops31:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study401:0040:00N/A
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
CAC3054Epic Journeys: The Odyssey and Homeric Epic (stage 3)
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures (which also mostly include group work on applying lecture themes to specific passages) are designed to introduce students to overall approaches to the text, its techniques and its cultural background, and to illustrate to students how these ideas may be applied to the exploration of textual detail (and vice versa), giving students the opportunity to try this latter approach also for themselves.

Workshops give the students the opportunity to apply close reading techniques to excerpts from the texts.

Seminars are designed to give students the opportunity to engage with issues about and approaches to the text for themselves, both in preparing an oral presentation and in preparing to participate in discussion; and also to develop students' skills of oral and interpersonal communication.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination14402A8024-hour 'take home' paper. Word limit: 2,750.
Exam Pairings
Module Code Module Title Semester Comment
Epic Journeys: The Odyssey and Homeric Epic (stage 3)2N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M20Assignment 1000 words
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation2MPreparation of material to present to in-class group in seminars.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The 'take-home paper' will comprise a mixture of commentary and essay questions.
Commentary questions assess students’ capacity to analyse passages in detail, usually as a basis for discussing characteristic features of the text as a whole. Essay questions assess students’ ability to assemble their knowledge of the text(s) studied into a coherent discussion of key overall questions about the text.
The open book format tests the students' skills of working within a restricted time-frame to a specific tight brief, while allowing them to consult the range of primary material necessary for a strong detailed analysis.

The assignment tests students' skills in analysing and interpreting narrative techniques within the texts, applying for themselves skills practised in lectures and workshop sessions.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.

Reading Lists