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CLA 53 W — Greek Mythology: Gods and Heroes in Texts and Contexts

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 7 weeks
Date(s): Jun 25—Aug 10
Drop Deadline: Jun 28
Unit: 1
Tuition: $360
Instructor(s): Donna Zuckerberg
Limit: 40
Status: Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 6/28 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 7/3 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Jun 25—Aug 10
7 weeks
Drop By
Jun 28
1 Unit
Donna Zuckerberg
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 6/28 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 7/3 at 5:00 pm (PT).
What is Greek mythology? The answer to this question may seem obvious: It is the stories the ancient Greeks came up with to describe and explain their world. Sometimes these stories have a religious purpose, helping humans understand their relationship to the gods; sometimes they have a political purpose, narrating the origins of a city; sometimes they just tell a compelling tale to entertain an audience. These myths can be found in the art and literature of the Western world up to the present day.

In this course, we will study this unruly mass of stories and analyze what they can tell us about the cultural and historical contexts in which they were created and flourished. We will focus on the stories of how the Olympian gods came to power; the battles that Heracles, Perseus, and Theseus fought against legendary monsters; and the struggles of Achilles, Odysseus, and other heroes of the Trojan War. We will also attempt to understand why Greek mythology has inspired so many creative tellings and retellings throughout the past two millennia.


  • Course sizes are limited.
    You won't have 5,000 classmates. This course's enrollment is capped at 40 participants.

  • Frequent interaction with the instructor.
    You aren't expected to work through the material alone. Instructors will answer questions and interact with students on the discussion board and through weekly video meetings.

  • Study with a vibrant peer group.
    Stanford Continuing Studies courses attract thoughtful and engaged students who take courses for the love of learning. Students in each course will exchange ideas with one another through easy-to-use message boards as well as optional weekly real-time video conferences.

  • Direct feedback from the instructor.
    Instructors will review and offer feedback on assignment submissions. Students are not required to turn in assignments, but for those who do, their work is graded by the instructor.

  • Courses offer the flexibility to participate on your own schedule.
    Course work is completed on a weekly basis when you have the time. You can log in and participate in the class whenever it's convenient for you. If you can’t attend the weekly video meetings, the sessions are always recorded for you and your instructor is just an email away.

  • This course is offered through Stanford Continuing Studies.
    To learn more about the program, visit our About Us page. For more information on the online format, please visit the FAQ page.

Donna Zuckerberg, Editor-in-Chief, Eidolon

Donna Zuckerberg received a PhD in Classics from Princeton, where she taught courses on Greek literature, Homer’s Iliad, and classical mythology. She is editor-in-chief of the online Classics journal Eidolon. Her book Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age is forthcoming from Harvard University Press in Fall 2018.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Roberto Calasso, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony (ISBN 0679733485)
(Required) Helen Morales, Classical Mythology: A Very Short Introduction (ISBN 0192804766)
(Required) Stephen M. Trzaskoma et al., Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation (ISBN 1624664970)
(Recommended) Stanley Lombardo, The Essential Homer (ISBN 0872205401)
(Recommended) Sophocles et al., The Greek Plays: Sixteen Plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides (ISBN 0812983092)
(Recommended) Sophocles et al., All That You've Seen Here Is God: New Versions of Four Greek Tragedies (ISBN 0307949737)