R416 Fall 2018 The Tradition of Troy from the Bronze Age to the Renaissance
Mondays, 2:15–3:40, Sept. 17–Oct. 15
No class Oct. 8
Instructor: Diane Thompson
The Trojan War probably occurred in the 12th century BCE in western Anatolia. Since then it has been written about and re-imagined in many forms, including epic poetry, sculpture, painting, and plays. The Fall of Troy is perhaps the most enduring legend in Western Civilization after the Fall of Man as told in the Hebrew Bible. Both try to explain the degenerated nature of human civilization while looking back to an earlier golden age. The one important counter-example is Virgil’s Aeneid, which has the defeated Trojans founding the future Roman Empire. This course will review the possible sites and events of the Trojan War and then give an overview of the relevant mythology, Homeric epics, Greek dramas, Virgil’s Aeneid, and various medieval European retellings of the events. The course will end at the Renaissance. Dick Wilan will continue the discussion with R417 Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, a four-week course on Shakespeare’s great Troy play, Troilus and Cressida.
Diane Thompson has been studying and teaching about the Trojan War and related matters since the 1970s when she first discovered what a wonderful long cut through history it offered. She is a professor emerita at Northern Virginia Community College where she still teaches world literature part time online. Her PhD is from City University of New York in comparative literature.