How Stories Define Us: Greek Myths and the Invention of Democracy

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Lecture, Open—Year

The ancient Greeks originated the name, concept, and political structure of democracy. Their literature both witnessed and effected the very first-ever political and cultural transformation from tyranny to democracy, from rigid hierarchy to equality and the rule of law. How did telling and retelling their myths help the Greeks develop the values necessary to make this transition? What can the ancient Greeks’ cultural transformation and their eloquent testimony about it teach the modern world? Readings will include the archaic poetry of Homer and Hesiod (8th-7th century BCE) and selected Athenian tragedies and comedies (5th century BCE). Students will attend one lecture and one group conference each week. At the discretion of the instructor, qualified students may enroll in the course as Intermediate or Advanced Greek.