Course Syllabus


Th 7:00-9:20pm SAV 132


Instructor: Jaime Volker



Mailbox: Box 353110, DEN 218


Phone: 543-2266 (voice msg only)

Office: CMU B023


Office Hrs: T W 3-4pm & by appt


Required Texts:

Stephen Harris and Gloria Platzner.  Classical Mythology: Images and Insights.  6th Ed. McGraw-Hill.

A.D. Melville.  Ovid Metamorphoses. Oxford World Classics. 

Emily Wilson.  Seneca: Six Tragedies.  Oxford World Classics. 


Course Description:

This course is an introduction to ancient Greek and Roman Mythology through the examination of the literature and art of said cultures.  We will look at the principal myths and mythological figures of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as a brief look at the reception of various myths in later literature, art, and film.  No previous knowledge of either Greek or Roman mythology is presumed, though having previously taken a course such as Classics 210 will put you ahead of the game and will likely lighten your workload a little.  Though this is a 400-level class, students of all levels are allowed—and invited—to enroll, with the understanding that their work and conduct will meet the standards appropriate to an upper-level undergraduate course.


Course Goals:

Beyond receiving a thorough introduction to mythology, I want you to think about the course material in ways that resonate with you.  Have you seen “Clash of the Titans”?  How does the movie compare to the original myth(s)?  Why do they call certain myths “rapes” if there isn’t (always) sex?  How is the myth of Narcissus linked to the flower of the same name?  How is linked to “narcissism”? 

What I am getting at is this: ancient mythology pervades myriad aspects of our culture, in both obvious and subtle ways.  Your major goal for this course is to find out how it has touched your life, and how it can inform your studies in other disciplines.



The schedule of and details for assignments will be maintained on the Canvas course space.

The primary assignment for this class is to read what I ask you to read and come to class knowing the basic information I ask you to know.  Remember: this is a 400-level class; it is not my responsibility to spoon-feed you every crumb of information in lecture.  I want to devote time to parsing out and discussing the significance of these myths and mythological figures.  I don’t care if the legwork you have to do to reach my standards means that it takes you twice as long to complete the assignments as someone else; that’s life.  Do what you have to do in order to know what you have to know by the time lecture rolls around.  No excuses.



Every lecture will have an accompanying PowerPoint presentation.  I will post this PowerPoint on the course website.  Lecture notes will not accompany the PowerPoint.  If you miss a lecture, I will not give you my (pretty much non-existent) lecture notes, so find a buddy TODAY who will be generous enough to give you theirs.

I am happy to take questions during lecture, but I will not take any until I hit an appropriate stopping point and say something like: “Are you with me so far?” or “Are there any questions?”  When I open the floor for questions, please raise your hand and ask.  Because I cannot read minds, I will assume that the material I present (and the material you have read) is completely understood if there are no questions. 

If you do not think of a question until after the lecture is over, you are welcome to come to my set office hours, or post the question in the Discussion section on Canvas, or contact me during my Virtual Office Hours.  Do not let your queries go unanswered just because we are no longer in the classroom.  You have a community of scholars at your disposal (i.e., each other and me); take advantage of that fact.



Your grade will be based on your participation in the class and 3 exams. 

Participation (20%): Participation is evidence of active engagement with the material.  I have provided several venues for you to participate: in class, via the discussion boards on Canvas, and by helping to fill out the Wiki pages for reviewing course material.  Even if you are shy or are a “slow thinker” (as I often am), you have opportunities to contribute.

Exams (80%; i.e., 20-20-40): I am giving a total of three exams in this class.  All of the exams will be taken online, outside of class.  This also means that they will be open book/open note.  Exam 1 and Exam 2 will NOT be cumulative; they will focus on the units covered since the last exam.  The final exam (Exam 3) will be cumulative and will be worth twice as much as the first two exams.  These exams will consist of multiple choice, multiple answer, and matching questions. Grades will be maintained online via the grade book on Canvas.  Please check your grade there.  Do not ask me what your grade is because I will just tell you to check it online.


I will provide more information regarding the exams (plus some sample questions) in a week or so.


Grading Scale: Grades will be determined according to the following scale:

Grade Point       Letter Grade       Percentage               Grade Point      Letter Grade      Percentage

4.0                    A                      100 – 98                        2.3                    C+                    76

3.9                    A                      97 – 95                          2.2                    C+                    75

3.8                    A-                     94                                 2.1                    C                      74

3.7                    A-                     93 - 92                          2.0                    C                      73

3.6                    A-                     91                                 1.9                    C                      72

3.5                    A-                     90 - 89                          1.8                    C-                     71

3.4                    B+                    88 - 87                          1.7                    C-                     70

3.3                    B+                    86                                 1.6                    C-                     69

3.2                    B+                    85                                 1.5                    C-                     68

3.1                    B                      84                                 1.4                    D+                    67

3.0                    B                      83                                 1.3                    D+                    66

2.9                    B                      82                                 1.2                    D+                    65

2.8                    B-                     81                                 1.1                    D                      64

2.7                    B-                     80                                 1.0                    D                      63

2.6                    B-                     79                                 0.9                    D                      62

2.5                    B-                     78                                 0.8                    D-                     61

2.4                    C+                    77                                 0.7                    D-                     60


To convert your exam score into a percentage, divide your score by the number of questions and multiply that figure by 100.  I round up for any decimals .5 or higher (e.g., 88.5 = 89)

Student Conduct:


With your continued enrollment in this class, you are agreeing to the following:

  • You will complete the assignments for the class in a timely manner, and you will shoulder the responsibility for achieving the learning objectives I have set out for each lesson.  Readings will not always be long, but the onus will be on you to understand certain basic information that I do not have time to go over in lecture.
  • You will come to class on time; if you should come in late, you will do so quietly.  This class lasts until 9:20pm.  You are not to leave until that time, unless I dismiss you earlier.  If you must leave early, you are responsible for approaching me to let me know.  Moreover, you are responsible for leaving in an unobtrusive manner.
  • You will complete the tests within the time frame specified, unless you have conferred with me in advance or if there is an emergency, for which I will likely ask for documentation.  Unless you are so sick that you are contagious (and you will have to come with documentation before I agree to a make-up), you will be expected to take the tests within the assigned time frame.  If I have agreed to let you take the test on a different day, you will have one week from the original test date to complete the make-up.  Failure to do so results in a zero.
  • You respect your fellow classmates’ right to learn without being disrupted by your activities.  Your behavior will reflect this respect for your classmates.

    With this understanding, please note that I will allow laptops vel sim. for taking notes in class as long as they do not interfere with someone else’s learning.  If I hear from a student that a peer’s activities are being disruptive, I will send out an email to the class requesting that the offending party come forward, and they will be banned from using their devices in class for two weeks.  If he/she/they do(es) not come forward, I will ban everyone from using technological devices in my classroom for two weeks.  If such things happen again and the offenders do not come forward again, I will ban all devices permanently.

  • You respect differences of opinion and are still able to carry on a civil dialogue if there is disagreement.  Not everyone will approach the material in the same way.  If, however, you find someone’s insights (including the instructor’s) to be offensive, you have the right to respond and explain why you take offense.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due