Mythology in Epic Poetry

Ref: C3847547

Harold Bloom observes that 'our estrangement can be said to heighten the epic's effect upon us; the poem's power is enhanced by distancing.' On this course we will explore the enduring appeal of epic poetry, the myths and stories it relays, its form, shape, style and execution, to understand why these works have persisted for so long and what keeps us coming back again and again, why epic poetry continues to affect us. We will think about how, where and why myth emerged, who the mortals, gods and other renowned beings ensnared in these stories are, how they relate to one another and to us, as well as reading some contemporary responses. We will read the epics of Homer and Virgil, and also spend time looking at epic poetry of other traditions and cultures such as the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, Paradise Lost and the Old Norse Edda. More widely we will interrogate myth itself: What is myth? Is myth the same as folklore, fairytale, legend? Is there a difference between myth and history?

Course aim

Through classical and modern sources this course will examine events and characters from myth, mortal, divine, in-between, supernatural, related within Greek and Roman epic as well as other traditions in order to strengthen our grasp on the subject.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Show an improved knowledge of an essential range of Classical and other myths through source, story and character, notably in epic poetry
  • Identify where myth comes from, what it is, how it functions and transfers to a variety of historical, social and cultural contexts
  • Explain how myths are presented and narrated in an array of poetic and other sources or forms, both ancient and modern
  • Interpret the reception of Classical and other myth, its narratives and characters, through important theoretical approaches and modern scholarship within the subject
  • Demonstrate some independence in learning through analysis and research using skills built and developed here

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

This course will be taught online using a combination of Zoom and the WEA's online digital learning platform Canvas, both of which you will need to be able to access through the internet and email. A selection of learning resources will be provided, including reading and materials for each session.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Mythology in Epic Poetry

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course is not available for online enrolment.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact

Visa Credit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Debit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Electron payments supported by RBS WorldPay Mastercard payments supported by RBS WorldPay Maestro payments supported by RBS WorldPay JCB payments supported by RBS WorldPay Solo payments supported by RBS WorldPay
RBS WorldPay Payments Processing