Poetry from the Classical World

Ref: C3127248

This course will provide an overview of Classical poetry in English translation. It might not therefore appeal to classicists. If you are interested in the classical world of ancient Greece and Rome then join us as we explore the period through looking at extracts from Homer's Iliad & Odyssey, Sappho's lyrics and the situation of women in ancient literature, Theocritus's Idylls and the poetry of the Greek tragedians. From Rome we shall be focusing on Virgil's pastoral poems as well as the Aeneid, the lyrics of Catullus and the elegies of Horace and their extraordinary influence on English poetry. We shall also read some of the love poetry of Ovid and his Metamorphoses as well as considering his tragic ending.

Course aim

This course is designed to provide an overview of classical poetry and how it has influenced modern European and English poetry. The course will be based on translations into modern English, not the original texts, so might not appeal to classicists.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course would suit someone who's been on a previous 'poetry reading' course with the WEA or who is a member of a poetry readers' group. It is aimed at those who are regular readers of poetry from the modern and Classical worlds and enjoy the complexity and subtle delights of poetry.

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

  • name most of the celebrated Greek poets
  • outline the types of poetry written in ancient Greece
  • name most of the leading Roman poets
  • give an account of some of the Roman poets' lives and loves

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • Students will be expected to play an active part in this course and will be asked to research a helpful topic to make the subject matter come alive: day to day life in ancient Athens, for example, or the importance of 'the triumph' in ancient Rome.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • Open discussion of the many issues that will arise will be encouraged. It will be a journey of discovery into ancient times for all of us. But it will be fun.

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • The tutor will provide the texts for study but it is up to individual students to decide what else they want to bring to the sessions. Research will be required so a good local library/ internet connection might be very helpful.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • A reading list will be supplied but it would be helpful if students had read some of the following texts: Homer's Iliad & Odyssey, Sappho's lyrics, Virgil's Aeneid and anything by Catullus, Horace or Ovid.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • It might be that a particular course of study will arise naturally out of this course so I'm happy to leave it largely up to the students to decide.

Download full course information sheet

Poetry from the Classical World

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has been cancelled.


This course is funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority but is also open to residents of other areas.

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • 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 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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