GRC20100 Ovid's Metamorphoses and the Transformation of Myth

Academic Year 2024/2025

*** Not available in the academic year indicated above ***

In this module we will read Ovid's great epic poem the Metamorphoses in its context of Augustan Rome. We will look at how Ovid creatively adapts and refigures already-existing stories in innovative fashion, and we will see how those stories are in turn adapted and represented in post-classical literature and art. We will concentrate on three particular myth cycles: the Creation and the ascent of man (Metamorphoses 1), the Cadmus cycle (Metamorphoses 3-4), and the origins and rise of the Roman people (Metamorphoses 12-15).

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge of the major myths of the Metamorphoses, and the ways in which Ovid adapts already-existing epic and mythic traditions.
- Evaluate the significance of these myths within the political and cultural atmosphere of Rome in the age of Augustus.
- Research and analyse examples of ways in which these same myths are re-presented in post-classical literature and art.
- Explore the role of myth as a 'socially useful story' which comments on and attempts to explain features of the society within which it is told.
- Debate key questions about the text in tutorials, and modify their judgement based on the arguments advanced by their peers and the secondary literature.
- Recognise the processes of effective story-telling
- Analyse the literary techniques by which Ovid narrates effectively.
- Evaluate the success or otherwise of Ovid's appropriation of material from his epic predecessors.

Indicative Module Content:

Lectures will cover four cycles of myth in the poem: stories of creation and the gods (Met 1-2, Met 6); stories of Thebes (Met 3-4); stories of the Trojan War (Met 12-14); stories from Roman mythology (Met 15). Tutorials will explore the reception of these stories in post-classical literature, art and other media.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
11 lectures, which will introduce key themes and demonstrate them with example close readings of passages from the poem; 4 small group classes, in which students (with the help of a tutor) will explore the post-classical and critical reception of the poem. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade

Not yet recorded.

Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will discuss potential projects in tutorials and may apply the results of this discussion to their final essay. One tutorial class will also be devoted to preparation for the final examination.