These 24 lectures are a vibrant introduction to the primary characters and most important stories of classical Greek and Roman mythology. Among those you'll investigate are the accounts of the creation of the world in Hesiod's Theogony and Ovid's Metamorphoses; the gods Zeus, Apollo, Demeter, Persephone, Hermes, Dionysos, and Aphrodite; the Greek heroes, Theseus and Heracles (Hercules in the Roman version); and the most famous of all classical myths, the Trojan War.
Professor Vandiver anchors her presentation in some basics. What is a myth? Which societies use myths? What are some of the problems inherent in studying classical mythology? She also discusses the most influential 19th- and 20th-century thinking about myth's nature and function, including the psychological theories of Freud and Jung and the metaphysical approach of Joseph Campbell. You'll also consider the relationship between mythology and culture (such as the implications of the myth of Demeter, Persephone, and Hades for the Greek view of life, death, and marriage), the origins of classical mythology (including the similarities between the Theogony and Mesopotamian creation myths), and the dangers of probing for distant origins (for example, there's little evidence that a prehistoric "mother goddess" lies at the heart of mythology).
Taking you from the surprising "truths" about the Minotaur to Ovid's impact on the works of William Shakespeare, these lectures make classical mythology fresh, absorbing, and often surprising.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2000 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2000 The Great Courses
This book gives an over view of classical mythology, particularly the Greeks. I bought it as I can never answer the mythology clues in crosswords. I still can't, and would need to listen again (and again) and take notes to get anywhere but that is my inadequacies not the book.I enjoyed listening and liked the style of delivery and will relisten. The Greek Gods were definitely not nice and true mysogonists.
"Very Informative and Entertaining"
Before I make any criticism, I want to say that for me, this was a "Couldn't put it down" audio book. To me this is an example of audio books at their best. I strongly recommended it. I found it entertaining, easy listening, informative and well presented.
The speaker's delivery was at just the right pace for me and with plenty of colour. I like to listen while doing other things such as exercising and cooking and driving. That means the delivery needs to be good to hold my attention and she hit the spot for me.
I knew a bit about classical mythology before I started, but I knew a lot more by the time I finished. Great perspective and overview.
My only criticism is that I would have liked the stories and characters she covered to have been presented as such, rather than descriptions and discussions of the stories. Obviously these are academic style lectures, but I think a few complete stories mixed in would have added to the work. I would love to hear an expanded version where these lectures serve as a companion to properly narrated stories themselves. That would be awesome.
One very important thing to add - she stimulated an appetite in me to learn more. I bought several other works in the same series after this. (Not all were as good as this). In retrospect, I think this is one of the most valuable things about it.
"the Facts behind the Myth"
This is my third Great Course and second by Professor Elizabeth Vandiver. Vandiver is simply wonderful; her lectures are not only full of information and insight but also ingeniously organized to increase understanding. I wish she had been one of my professors in college because she is THAT compelling. If you are familiar with myth but are looking for more about the history and context of the myths then this course is perfect for you. I also highly recommend that if you enjoy these lectures that you listen to Professor Vandiver's lectures on Greek Tragedy as well.
Fascinating lecture on classical mythology. Vandiver is entertaining and realistic in her approach and I would be delighted to listen to more of her lectures.
I'm not really sure what's up with the other reviewer, maybe it was different than what they were expecting. To prevent that, let me tell you:
-The first three lectures are a discussion of what constitutes a myth. She explains multiple theories and their implications.
-The next lectures are about the beginning of the universe and the birth of the gods/ primordial deities.
-Then come a few more Olympians (Demeter, Dionysus, Hermes, etc)
-And a few heroes (Heracles is the biggie)
This is not a systematic retelling of myth in the form of a story, it's a lecture intended to help listeners better interpret and understand classical mythology. It's very brief, as an in-depth interpretation of all myth would take several weeks of continuous lecture, but it's a good starting point.
As someone whose only experience with mythology was the Percy Jackson series, I found this interesting and well worth the time it took to listen. I recommend it.
"An Epic Journey Across Classical Myth"
I enjoy mythologies, and I have read up a lot about them. This course focuses on Greek and Roman mythologies primarily, providing much needed academic insight.
"Enlightening and Entertaining"
"Classical Mythology" is one of "The Great Courses" doing what this series does best in several ways:
1) Elizabeth Vandiver is a well-qualified, pleasant-voiced, and obviously enthusiastic lecturer. Her command of the subject and interest in conveying it to the listener is evident.
2) There's lots for the general listener to learn. My husband and I have listened to the entire course during driving trips. We are perhaps just a bit more-than-average in our acquaintance with Greek mythology through history and literature. We're experiencing the "Percy Jackson" series with our grandson just now and enjoying that very much. This course serves as a great reminder and review of the knowledge we have/had, as well as lots of new information about the gods, heroes and tales of ancient Greece.
3) Professor Vandiver shares her opinions and even her biases. It's fantastic when listeners can pause the presentation to debate and even argue some of the points made by a teacher. Makes for a thought-provoking and involving experience.
4) It's unforgettable in lots of ways. The course brings insight into how our society today is still affected by these stories. Vandiver points out ways in which these myths have influenced modern archaeology, psychology, politics, and literature from Shakespeare to comic books.
Highly recommended as a useful and fun listen!
"A more complex view of Oedipus."
Elizabeth Vandiver's lectures focus on why we create myth, and what we can infer and deduce from from the historical and contextual references within classical mythology. Through the lectures she does outline several examples of specific myths, traces ancestry of both fictitious and historic persons, and the psychology of myth-making. This was all fun and educational material, but the clear take-away was that I need to read some works by Ovid. He was the Oscar Wilde of ancient Rome and a total badass.
"A good treatment of the material."
I was very pleased with this course, over all. Unfortunately, it started out a little rough. The Professor was very knowledgeable. Unfortunately, she seemed rushed, or perhaps nervous through the first chapter and a half. Afterwards she falls into an easy lecture style, and seems like she's enjoying giving lecture a little more. Beyond these small points, I thought it was a useful series, with a good treatment of classic mythology.
Very interesting material. I learned so much. Professor Vandiver was an excellent speaker and made the subject come to life.
"A Herculean Task. A Homeric Performance."
I picked this up on sale back in 2014 and yes, it’s taken me this long to actually listen. I admit I was put off; at the beginning Professor Vandiver sounds a little dry, a tad dour. Don’t make the same mistake. While she is an acute scholar, the good professor also has a sense of humor that emerges as you go.
True to the precision she will bring to every lecture, we start with an illuminating discussion of the very word “mythology”. From there we examine the major 20th century interpretive theories. And I have to admit that this was heavy sledding. A scholar, it seems, is like a child at the seashore looking through bits of sea glass. A blue fragment makes everything that is blue that much bluer—but also makes everything else blue, too. So with interpretive theories. Based on one or two aspects of a myth, they distort all other aspects. It’s more than a little depressing.
The good news? Professor Vandiver is just as dubious. She’s aware of the distortions any single theory can lend the subject and recommends a balanced view, saying that each gives us a window on myth that can, perhaps, be helpful.
Once we get to the myths themselves, we’re off. I listen to lectures during my morning workout, having found that they divert my mind and make me forget the physical tedium. Professor Vandiver did all that and more. She combines an engaging, lively presentation with scholarly care. Throughout all 24 lectures I never heard an idea, supposition or insight that was in any way far-fetched or agenda-driven. Tackling a subject that covers the entire timeline of Western Civilization, from the first Minoan to the latest movies, Professor Vandiver manages to give us the big picture through an abundance of telling examples and details. No, not everything is covered. But it’s amazing what is.
The result? I have a useful framework in my head for understanding and enjoying the classical myths. I get more out of listening to Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Naxos’ version with David Horovitch is superb). The opening scenes of the Iliad make sense now (I thought Agamemnon was just being a jerk). I understand the watershed that the Homeric epics represent in the Greek concept of human history (and as long as we’re bandying theories about, I wonder if that accounts for the completely different tone of the two poems). And I will have to grab that copy of the Homeric Hymns I passed up at my favorite used book store back when, before these lectures, I didn’t understand what they were. Professor Vandiver may even have given me a way into appreciating Star Wars—which will make our son very happy. In the meantime, I’ve added Professor Vandiver’s lectures on The Iliad, Odyssey and Aeneid to my wish list.
As with other offerings from The Great Courses, the downside is the production. True, rather than the cringe-making swell of timpani and strings used in other titles, we are treated here to a snippet of one of the Brandenburg Concertos. But there’s still that canned, cringe-making applause at the beginning and end of every lecture. Persevere. It’s more than worth it.
"Covers Latin and Greek Mythology"
I would recommend making the written martials available.
This course compares favorably with other of The Great Courses.
knowledge, explanation, context
Yes, it was interesting. It increased my awareness of some cultural references to themes from classical mythology, particularly in the works of Shakespeare.
One flaw in The Great Courses on Audible is the lack of access to the written materials, which makes them less satisfying in terms of learning the material. For this course, it is not too big an issue. I was able to easily follow along while driving in the car.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.