Classical Mythology, Class 24

This final class builds off the last class’s emphasis on fantastic literature and moves from the cultural position held by horror to the function of science fiction, comic books, and fantasy. Important aspects of these genres include: their ability to function as etiological narratives, their flexibility in response to historical and cultural change, and the continued attraction of the ‘heroic pattern’. We will close the course by returning to the concept of ‘discourse’ to try to understand why the fantastic genre remains so powerful and what some of the dangers of its power may be.

Ancient Authors Discussed

Herodotus, Classical Period

Ovid, Roman Imperial Period

Apollodorus, Roman Imperial Period?

Pausanias, Roman Imperial Period


Some Suggested Course Texts


Apollonius Rhodes, First 100 Lines

Callimachus, Hymn to Athena [Bath of Pallas]


Links to Blogposts


Modern Authors Mentioned

Arthur C. Clarke

Ursula K. Le Guin

Frank Herbert

Robert Heinlein

Ann Leckie

George R. R. Martin

J. K. Rowling

J. R. R. Tolkein

H. G. Wells


Other Articles for Additional Reading

Archie Bland. “Comic book superheroes: the gods of modern mythology.” The Guardian, May 27, 2016.

Sarah Bond. “Five References to Rome in Game of Thrones.” Forbes, July 24, 2017.

Becca Caddy. “Myths, Monsters and Heroes: How Comic Books Were Influenced by the Stories From Our Past.” GizModo, March, 26 2016.

Janet Kafka. “Why Science Fiction?” The English Journal 64: 46-53. 1975.

Marguerite Johnson. “Game of Thrones has reignited the Greek tale of Iphigeneia.” The Conversation. June 11, 2015.

Laura Miller. “Far From Narnia: Philip Pullman’s Secular Fantasy for Children. “The New Yorker, Dec. 18, 2005.

Paul B. Sturtevant. “Race: The Original Sin of the Fantasy Genre.” The Public Medievalist, Dec. 5, 2017.


For Additional Reading, also see these collections:

Brett Rogers and Benjamin Eldon Stevens (eds.). Classical Traditions in Science Fiction. OUP, 2015.

Brett Rogers and Benjamin Eldon Stevens (eds.). Classical Traditions in Modern Fantasy. OUP, 2017.

Brett Rogers and Benjamin Eldon Stevens (eds.). Once and Future Antiquities in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Bloomsbury, 2018.

Brett Rogers, Benjamin Eldon Stevens and Jessie Weiner. Frankenstein and Its Classics: The Modern Prometheus from Antiquity to Science Fiction. Bloomsbury, 2018.

Student Links



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