Events & Services

Winter/Spring 2023: Homer’s Odyssey (Professor Eirene Allen)

The epic that inspired the road trip genre, the Odyssey is often remembered as the story of a man who took ten years to return home to his wife, fighting off sirens, nymphs, and his and his companions’ bad decisions along the way. But beneath the apparent vice and folly lies an exploration of the nature of storytelling, the limits of perseverance, the contours of faith, the inscrutability of death, and a quest to define and safeguard home.

Mondays January 23 to April 17 (no class March 6) , 7-9 p.m ET. Open to all.

Information and Registration

Winter 2023 1-Hour Seminars

All designed for a general audience. All are Eastern U.S./NYC time. All are about one hour in duration.

Myth in two dimensions: Rethinking Greek Vases. Feb. 11, 12 p.m. ET

In the ancient world, mythology seeped into every aspect of life and one lasting example of this is Greek vase images. Elizabeth Wilson will lead participants through analysis of selected vase images, showing how this ancient art form reveals depth and truth to some of our favorite stories.

The Cento: A Byzantine Empress’ Reception of Homer. Feb. 18, 12 p.m. ET

A former pagan, Aelia Eudocia Augusta profited from her Athenian education to present a converted Homer whose verses told not of the wrath of Achilles or of the many-minded Odysseus, but instead sang the tale of Christ. By “re-stitching” lines from the Iliad and Odyssey, Eudocia paid homage to both her Greek heritage and her adoption of Christianity in brilliantly worked centos, fittingly answering Tertullian’s question, “what hath Athens to do with Jerusalem?” In this one hour session, Lauren Heilman will discuss how Eudocia adapted pagan symbols into Christian, and why her centos represent an important stage in the medieval reception of Homer.

Translating Ancient Texts: The Aeneid. Feb. 25, 10 a.m. ET

Hillary Yip will lead participants through selected passages from Aeneid book 6, looking at the original Latin and several translations to understand the range of potential approaches to the same text.

Workshopping Lesson Plans for Teaching Epics. March 11, 12 p.m. ET

Join this open forum discussion led by Elizabeth Wilson that will introduce teaching techniques to your classical arsenal and help you workshop your own ideas into fully fleshed out, ready-to-teach lessons.

Private Religion in the Ancient World. March 25, 12 p.m. ET

How did ordinary people in the ancient world interact with divine powers about their own personal concerns? Dr. Charlotte Spence will explore this question through the lens of curse tablets, in which small inscriptions were written on pieces of lead and deposited in graves, underground bodies of water, and sanctuaries. These texts are known as curse tablets. Through this ritual ancient individuals could use the power of the gods or the restless dead to curse their enemies, bind the competition in sporting contests, steal another man’s wife, break up lovers, and even win legal trials! Welcome to a world described by Pliny as one where ‘there is no one who does not fear to be spell-bound by curse tablets!’ (Pliny, Natural History 28.5.19.) 

Herodotus: Echoes of Epic. April 15, 12 p.m. ET

Herodotus opens his “inquiry” into the Persian Wars with the hope that great deeds not go unsung. Performing an almost bard-like function, he intersperses his narrative with many poignantly framed mythological tales and type scenes that echo not only Homeric epic, but also Homeric hymns and even lyric poetry. During this one hour session, Lauren Heilman will examine key moments in Herodotus’ Histories that demonstrate his great gift for “myth retelling,” his structural genius, and his debt to previous compositions.

Translating Ancient Texts: Homer. Saturday, April 29, 12 p.m. ET

HM Classics Academy’s Helen McVeigh and Dr. Eirene Allen will discuss the challenges of translating Homer. Topics they will cover include grammatical features unique to Homeric epics and the cultural context of their production.

Information and Registration

Iliad. The next seminars will be held Fall 2023.

Consultations. Teachers and schools can contact the Institute via email to set up a time to speak about their community’s particular needs and goals.

Discussion groups. Teachers are invited to join our moderated Discord server to discuss the texts, ask questions, and exchange resources. To join, Contact Us with a request.

Seminars for Libraries. The Institute for Classics Education provides online seminars to introduce library patrons to the classics of ancient Greece in translation. The seminars are hosted by the library, streamed online, and presented by the Institute’s Dr. Allen. More information is here.

Reading recommendations for teachers: translations and analytical works on ancient texts vary significantly. Click here for the Institute’s position on translation and here for overviews of recommended translations for the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Purpose

The ancient classics present a unique opportunity for readers to engage with profoundly foreign contexts and grapple with contrasting worldviews. Reading them can provoke us to recognize and better understand our expectations for literary texts, our aesthetic and moral values, and our most basic assumptions about truth. Yet even in moments when the world they portray can feel most alien, ancient texts can invite a deep sense of recognition of and connection to what it means to be human. 

Embracing ancient texts’ paradoxical elements is among the most challenging aspects of reading them. Cultural and linguistic contexts can enhance our experiences with these texts that can feel at once profoundly familiar and deeply strange. The Institute’s purpose is to provide, for educators and learners who teach and study Homer and ancient Greek classics in translation, a supportive community in which to explore these contexts .

Join the Community

The Institute’s Discord server aims to be a gathering place for teachers of ancient classics. Join the conversation to discuss the Iliad and the Odyssey, ask questions, and exchange resources for teaching the texts.

To join the Institute’s Discord server, contact us with the request.

About

The Institute for Classics Education is a U.S.-based 501(c)3 non-profit. Led by Dr. Eirene Allen, the Institute strives to promote critical thinking skills for the modern world by teaching the classics of ancient Greece. Fundamental to the Institute’s objectives is supporting educators who teach ancient Greek classics in English translation.

Dr. Allen earned her Ph.D from New York University, and she has taught at NYU. She usually leads the Institute’s discussion groups and seminars and is the general editor of the Institute’s publications. Her own blog is here: https://whyhomer.com/

To learn more about the Institute, its services and publications, Contact Us.

Contact Us

Contact Us with Questions or Requests.

Email us at: athena @ classicseducation . com (remove spaces).