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GR6: Myth Matters: Receptions of Mythology in Modern Greek Literature and Culture


This paper will return for the academic year 2023-24. The literature component will run online in Michaelmas term. 

This paper has two components: Language and Literature.


Language teaching focuses on comprehension and translation skills. The option of two levels of proficiency is available. The higher level is intended for students who have previously taken GR3 or have acquired a similar level of competence in Modern Greek. The aim is to help the student develop a knowledge and understanding of the linguistic features of the Modern Greek language and to become a fairly confident reader in a range of texts at basic or advanced intermediate level.

In the first two terms, language classes concentrate on the essentials of grammar for the basic level, while for the advanced intermediate level classes build on the grammar base already acquired in previous studies and mostly concentrate on language use. In the Easter Term the emphasis will be on translation from Greek.


Myth has shown a remarkable capacity to evolve throughout the ages and adapt to the intellectual and aesthetic requirements of different periods. Western European Literature is permeated by Classical Greek myths and it is well known that during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in particular writers explored and re-interpreted these myths in order to offer modern approaches to the inherited past, time, history, humanity’s yearning for order and individual and national identity.

The exploration of how Classical Greek myths have been adopted and reworked in Modern Greek literature and culture is a case in point because it offers students the opportunity to discover its interaction with and creative assimilation of European traditions. More importantly, however, it allows students to reflect on what happens when myths return to their “birthplace”: does their use in Modern Greek literature offer a different, alternative paradigm of reception and creative assimilation?

Please click here to view the latest information leaflet for Paper Gr.6 Myth Matters 2023-24


The language element of the paper is described above.

The literature element of the paper will examine the reception, re-writing and re-evaluation of characters and topics from the Odyssey: Odysseus, Penelope and Elpenor figure prominently as well as the nostos and nekyia themes. Lectures and supervisions will address the following questions:

  • What can the selection of a particular myth tell us about the writer or director and their artistic agenda?
  • What happens when myths are retold by women?
  • What is the importance of the choice and showcasing of female mythical figures?
  • How does ideology and historical events affect the re-writing of myth and the choice of mythical figures?
  • What makes the Greek paradigm a case in point?


  • Myth and identity
  • Myth and ideology
  • Myth and history
  • Women's writing and myth
  • Myth in Greek cinema
Preparatory reading: 


  • L. Coupe, Myth (The New Critical Idiom, Routledge 2009).
  • Barbara Clayton, A Penelopean poetics: reweaving the feminine in Homer’s Odyssey (Lexington Books 2004).
  • Nina Kossman, Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths (Oxford 2001)
  • Helen Morales, Classical Myth. A Very Short Introduction (OUP 2007).
  • Helen Morales, Antigone Rising. The Subversive Power of Ancient Myths (Wildfire 2020).
  • Adrienne Rich, ‘When we dead awaken: Writing as re-vision’ in On Lies, Secrets and Silence (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979).
  • W. B. Stanford, The Ulysses Theme. A study in the Adaptability of a Traditional Hero (Dallas 1992, 2nd edn).


The textbook and exercise book can be borrowed from the Modern Greek Section office on payment of a £30 refundable deposit.

D. Dimitra & M. Papacheimona, Ελληνικά Τώρα 2 + 2 (Nostos, 5th ed. Athens 2002).

Recommended additional material

  • K. Arvanitakis & F. Arvanitaki, Communicate in Greek 2 and 3  (textbook and workbook) (Deltos Publishing, 2002).
  • D.N. Stavropoulos, Oxford Greek-English Learner's Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 1988.
  • D.N. Stavropoulos & A.S. Hornby, Oxford English-Greek Learner's Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 1977).
  • D. Holton, P. Mackridge & I. Philippaki-Warburton, Greek: An essential grammar of the modern language (Routledge, 2004).
  • E. Gareli, E. Kapoula & M. Montzoli, Ταξίδι στην Ελλάδα, Νέα Ελληνικά για Ξένους. (Levels B1 and B2).  (Grigoris Publishing, 2013). 


Teaching and learning: 

There will be 16 hours of lectures, 8 in Michaelmas Term and 8 in Lent Term.
Students will also be required to attend two hours per week of languages classes in Michaelmas, Lent and translation workshops in Easter Term.

A total of eight supervisions will be offered to prepare the students for the essay questions in the examination. There will be three supervisions in Michaelmas Term, three in Lent and two in Easter.

For the Gr.6 Moodle site, please see here. The password can be collected from the paper coordinator.


Assessment will be by 3-hour written exam. The paper may not be taken by Optional Dissertation.

Course Contacts: 
Dr Liana Giannakopoulou
Dr Regina Karousou-Fokas