GRC20230 Heracles the Hero

Academic Year 2022/2023

The Greek hero Heracles (or Hercules, as the Romans called him) was one of the oldest and most powerful semi-divine figures in classical myth. This module explores how his childhood, twelve labours, many other exploits, madness, deification, and relationships with family and women are represented in ancient texts and art. We will also consider Heracles' place in ancient Greek and Roman life by examining his hero-cult, places of worship, and the development of his roles as a Stoic hero, a patron of Roman emperors, and hero of virtue in the Christian world.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this module students should be able to:

* demonstrate knowledge of the different representations of Heracles in the ancient sources;
* evaluate critically the sources for Heracles within relevant literary, historical and cultural contexts;
* analyse responses to the portrayal of Heracles in ancient texts, art, and places of worship;
* recognise specific aspects of the sources for Heracles;
* explain ideas clearly both orally and in writing.

These learning outcomes will be tested in the coursework project, in-class test, and the final essay.

Indicative Module Content:

Lecture topics include:
The twelve canonical labours
Other battles and exploits
Heracles' family relationships
Heracles as a civiliser of mankind
Heracles, hero or god?
Heracles at Rome and the self-representation of Roman Emperors
Heracles in Renaissance frescoes
This list is indicative and subject to change.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module is delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials, and recommended reading.

The lectures will examine key aspects of the representation of Heracles from early Greece until late Antiquity by considering a range of primary ancient sources and critical methodology. The lectures and the recommended reading will thus provide the framework for students' execution of all three assignments.

In the first three tutorials we will work in groups to produce mini-presentations on aspects of Heracles' representation in ancient art and literature (i.e. the first assignment worth 30%). Guidance will be given by the instructors on how to do the individual work and group work for the mini-presentations. The in-class test (worth 20%) will draw together students' knowledge and understanding of source material and topics from across the module. The last two tutorials will provide support for the final essay (the third assignment worth 50%). 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

There is no required prior learning for this module, but students will find a general knowledge of Greek and Roman history and culture useful.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Class Test: In-class test (mainly MCQ-style with some short answers in your own words) on a range of material and topics covered over the course of the module. Week 10 n/a Graded No


Essay: You will write a 2,000 word essay, using at least 3 primary sources for the representation of Heracles in ancient literature and art. Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Project: You will work in groups in tutorials to present an aspect of Heracles in the ancient world. Grades will be awarded for your individual presentation, attendance, and contribution to group discussions. Week 6 n/a Graded No


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
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Presentation work will be assessed by tutors during weeks 2-7; grades and feedback for this component will be sent individually to students by the module coordinator. Students will receive individual written feedback on their essay within 20 working days from the date of submission. Final grades will be sent individually to students by the module coordinator. Students are welcome to arrange a meeting with the module coordinator to discuss their grades and feedback.

Name Role
Ms Jessica Doyle Tutor
Ms Lisa Doyle Tutor