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Course Information

Instructor Info:Robert Meagher
Office Extension x5417
Term: 2013F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Emily Dickinson Hall (EDH) 2
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Emily Dickinson Hall (EDH) 2

The aim of this course was the comparative study of four ancient epics from Mesopotamia, Greece, India, and Ireland. The core readings comprised: the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Mahabharata, and the Tain. Each text was considered both in its own historical and cultural context and in the larger shared context of ancient epic, myth, religion, and literature.

Required Course Texts

Andrew George, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Viking/Penguin ISBN:0140449191

Stanley Lombardo, Iliad, Hackett ISBN:0872203522

C.V. Narasimhan, Mahabharata, Columbia University ISBN:0231110553

Thomas Kinsella, Tain, Oxford ISBN:0192803735

It is essential that you read these translations of the class texts and that you always bring to class a hard copy of the text being discussed. Required texts are available at Amherst Books, 8 Main Street, on Amherst town green. All other readings are available for download on the course website. Procedure for gaining access to films will be explained in class.

Course Objectives:

Attendance and Participation

Students are expected to come to class on time and to attend all scheduled class meetings. If you have to miss a class due to serious illness, religious observance, or family emergency, you should email the instructor and inform him of your absence prior to the missed class. Keep in mind that when you miss a class, it becomes your responsibility to contact your classmates to find out about the announcements and class discussion that you missed. Three absences from class are allowed for medical and other contingencies.  With four absences, for any reason, a student forfeits any right to formal evaluation of his or her work in this course.  In certain instances, however, evaluation may be possible, given exceptional circumstances and additional independent work.  The initiative for such an exception must be made by the student.  A sign-in sheet will be on hand for each class, and it is the student’s responsibility to check off his or her name on that sheet. Students are expected to complete the reading assignments before coming to each class and to be ready to take an active role in the discussion. Class participation is an essential element of the course requirements.

Evaluation Criteria:

Written Assignments

Either: Five short essays (approx. 1,000 words each), one on each of the four core texts of   the course and one comparative essay. Topics will be given out for each of these essays.

Or: Two short essays (approx. 1,000 words each), one on Gilgamesh and one on the Iliad,  and one independent research project (approx. 3,000 words).

Final Submission

In order to receive a final course evaluation students must submit either their 2 final short essays or their final project, together with a course evaluation. These submissions must be in hard copy and must be in my mailbox in the HACU office in EDH by 4:30 pm on December 11. This assumes that all earlier assignments have already long since been submitted.

Additional Info:

Policy on Cell Phones and Laptop Computers

As a courtesy to your instructors and classmates, please turn off your cell phone for the duration of the class. If your phone rings, you have to bring cookies for everyone to share in the next class. Laptops are not permitted in class without formal arrangement with the instructor and the Office of Disabilities Services.


If any member of this class has a diagnosed disability, please notify the instructor at the beginning of the term so that special assistance or accommodations might be arranged for full participation in and completion of this course.