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Study information

Roman Myth

Module titleRoman Myth
Module codeCLAM107
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Professor Sharon Marshall (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module is concerned with Roman myth-making, the stories the Romans told about their gods, their ancestors and themselves; it focuses in particular on the interaction of myth and history, since the Romans made no clear distinction between the two concepts (some of their stories are clearly unhistorical, some could conceivably be historical, others certainly are historical but are no less mythic for that). From the origins of Roman myth and contexts for myth-making, through literary and historical retellings, to post-classical encounters, the module will consider the stories the Romans told about their past from a broad range of diachronic perspectives.

Module aims - intentions of the module

  • The aim of the module is to understand as much as possible of a range of stories whose vividness and exemplary power created the Romans' vision of their own past and has appealed to artists and writers throughout the centuries.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Detailed knowledge of the Romans' story-world, from both literary and iconographic sources
  • 2. Insight into the way such stories were created, developed and exploited
  • 3. Understanding of the reception of Roman stories, from the end of antiquity to the present

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Collation and analysis of widely different types of evidence, much of which is incomplete and ambiguous
  • 5. Independent understanding of the relationship of myth to its cultural and historical context
  • 6. Critical reflection on the origins, development and significance of traditional stories in one's own and another culture

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Compilation of bibliography, conduct of research, and word-processing
  • 8. Independent analysis of written and visual sources and secondary literature
  • 9. Construction and defence of a sustained argument (both written and oral)
  • 10. Collaboration with instructor and peers in a constructive and responsive way
  • 11. Confidence and clarity in oral and written communication

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Contexts for Roman myth-making
  • Legends of the annalistic tradition
  • Myth and history in Ovid’s Fasti
  • The reception of Roman myth

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching15Intensive seminar and reading group teaching
Guided independent study135Working independently and in groups in preparation for seminars and essays

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay804000 words1-11Mark; written and oral feedback
Oral presentation2020-25 minutes1-11Mark; written and oral feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-11Referral/Deferral period
Oral presentationEssay1-11Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Set texts:

  • Diodorus Siculus. Library of History. Trans. C.H. Oldfather. Cambridge, MA, 1933-1967; repr. 1989. (Loeb Classical Library).
  • Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Roman Antiquities. Trans. E. Cary. Cambridge, MA, 1937-1950; repr. 1984. (Loeb Classical Library).
  • Livy. The Rise of Rome: Books 1-5. Trans. T.J. Luce. Oxford, 1998. (Oxford World's Classics).
  • Ovid. Times and Reasons: A New Translation of the Fasti. Trans. A. and P. Wiseman. Oxford, 2012.
  • Plutarch. Makers of Rome. Trans. I. Scott-Kilvert. London, 1965; repr. 2004. (Penguin Classics).
  • Valerius Maximus. Memorable Doings and Sayings. Trans. D.R. Shackleton Bailey. Cambridge, MA, 2000. (Loeb Classical Library).
  • Virgil. The Aeneid. Trans. D. West. Revised edition. London, 2003. (Penguin Classics).

Further reading:

  • Bremmer, J.N., and N.M. Horsfall. Roman Myth and Mythography. London, 1987.
  • Chaplin, J. Livy's Exemplary History. Oxford, 1999.
  • Feeney, D. Literature and Religion at Rome: Cultures, Contexts, and Beliefs. Cambridge, 1998.
  • —. Caesar's Calendar: Ancient Time and the Beginnings of History. Sather Classical Lectures, 65. Berkeley, 2007.
  • Flower, H. Ancestor masks and Aristocratic Power in Roman Culture. Oxford, 1996.
  • Cornell, T.J. The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c. 1000-264 BC). London, 1995.
  • Fox, M. Roman Historical Myths. The Regal Period in Augustan Literature. Oxford, 1996.
  • Gabba, E. Dionysius and the History of Archaic Rome. Berkeley, 1991.
  • Galinsky, G.K. Aeneas, Sicily, and Rome. Princeton, 1969.
  • Herbert-Brown, G. (ed.). Ovid's Fasti: Historical Readings at its Bimillenium. Oxford; New York, 2002.
  • Kraus, C.S., and A.J. Woodman. Latin Historians. Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics, 27. Oxford, 1997.
  • Morford, M.P.O., and R.J. Lenardon, Classical Mythology. 9th ed. Oxford, 2010.
  • Ogilvie, R.M. A Commentary on Livy. Books 1-5. Oxford, 1965.
  • Scullard, H.H. Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic. Ithaca, NY, 1981.
  • Wiseman, T.P., Clio's Cosmetics. Three Studies in Greco-Roman Literature. Bristol, 1979.
  • —. Remus: A Roman Myth. Cambridge, 1995.
  • —. Roman Drama and Roman History. Exeter, 1998.
  • —. The Myths of Rome. Exeter, 2004.
  • —. Unwritten Rome. Exeter, 2008.
  • —. Remembering the Roman People: Essays on Late-Republican Politics and Literature. Oxford, 2009.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Roman Myth, Ovid

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date

Feb 2013

Last revision date