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Epic Warriors: Achilles, Beowulf & Beyond - 20 credits (HST906)

Epic literature – a narrative celebrating the deeds of warrior heroes of the past -- was a product of both the classical world and of Europe and the Middle East in medieval times; romance, with its emphasis on the individual search for fulfilment, was more a creation of the central middle ages. These literatures reflected the values of the warrior classes which produced them, continuing to reflect those values long after the world which they represented had passed away. This course will explore the common values of ancient and medieval epic, drawing parallels between the warrior values of (for example) the Iliad and the Song of Roland. It will also explore the similarities between epic accounts of the same event from opposite sides: for example, comparing the Livonian Rhymed Chronicle with the Chronicle of Novgorod. Students will consider why this literature was written and how it was interpreted by its original audience, as well as exploring its uses as an historical source for the scholars of the present day.