site index sites of Greece | sites of Italy | other sites | MYTH | Romans in...
lectures | texts |
Latin | other materials (classics +) | Dr. J's Dossier
Dr J's Audio-Visual Resources for Classics

FOR 106
Myth and Meaning



 by chapter



Topics of





Special Project for Myth and Meaning (FOR 106)
(for eligible students who have chosen not take the final exam)

USEFUL REFERENCE BOOKS ARE ON RESERVE ON THE SIXTH FLOOR OF MILNER (in the Video department, although they are books). Ask me for books that will suit your particular needs. Don't do that part on your own - I can save you time.


  • to demonstrate knowledge of a particular myth in all (or at least more than one) of its ancient variants, which may be drawn from either or both literary and artistic sources
  • to demonstrate understanding of what makes a myth a myth, and not a fairy tale – to focus on mythic elements as discussed in class

Format Choices:

  • Analytical: you will be expected to read the original (in translation) passages from ancient authors concerning the myth(s) of your choice. You may apply whatever theory (ies) of myth interpretation you wish, if any. Occasionally outside reading will be helpful – as in the case of cult rituals, mythological elements in architectural design, etc.
  • Ancient/Modern Comparison: You may choose to write on a modern interpretation or adaptation (poem, play, opera, film, tv show, painting, sculpture) of any myth with classical sources (literary, artistic, architectural, etc.). For instance, if you wish to trace the mythic elements of a film, your paper should reflect knowledge of both the film and its classical sources and offer a good overview of elements compared and contrasted, as well as impressive insight into the significance of your observations.
  • Creative: suggestions include teacher lesson plans, re-formulations of myths (in modern times, in the future, in the distant past), poems with mythic import, etc.



  • Ancient Only: Will you be concerned only with the myths in their ancient context? If so, you must decide what source material you will use: literary sources, art (vase paintings, sculpture…), architectural elements (metopes, pedimental sculpture, frescoes, etc.). If you wish to write an analytical paper, an interpretation of details gathered from various sources, you must clearly differentiate between FACT and ARGUMENT. First, do your basic research – read what you can on the particular topic of your choice, and then see how the pieces might fit together for you – what intrigues you about the topic you chose?
  • Ancient/Modern Comparison: Will you be tracing the influence of or development of a particular theme or character or saga or legend in times subsequent to antiquity? If so, determine what modern material you will want to use, which various expressions of myth in culture you will focus on: poetry, theater, art, architecture, decorative arts, comic books, a novel, etc. Your project must be more than simply a reiteration of the details of the stories. You must discover a way to express that you understand the essence of the myth…as it exemplifies the nature of myth. In other words, you must come to an understanding of why the myth exists – what purpose does it serve? If you are comparing a modern version of a mythic theme or tale with the ancient traditional tale you will find that the details are different, but in fact the point of each play/film/poem shares a common mythic essence.

Creative: You must present two parts for a creative project:

1) the project, which can speak for itself (i.e., a lesson plan for little kids or a game or a comic book or a screenplay for a film)

2) a rationale that shows me that you understand the underlying mythic theme with which you are playing. Consider: What is myth? How do the details of a particular myth manage to accomplish something greater than just tell a story? THAT is what you need to discover and re-create if you wish to undertake a creative project.

Suggested Topics: 

  • a particular theme (e.g., rules of sexuality, victory of culture over nature, victory over death)
  • character (a god, hero, or mortal)
  • city or site (Thebes, Athens, Delphi)
  • cult (of Demeter, Athena, Hera, Dionysus…) and its rituals
  • tales concerning a particular life event (birth, death, marriage, etc.)

Suggested Length:

  • Analytical papers should be 8-10 pages, double spaced with 1 inch margins (11 or 12 point font)
  • Creative works must be cleared with Dr. Siegel and together we will agree on a suitable length considering the nature of the project

Due Date: MAY 9 (same day as the final examination)


copyright 2001 Janice Siegel, All Rights Reserved
send comments to: Janice Siegel (jfsiege@ilstu.edu)

date this page was edited last: 08/02/2005
the URL of this page