The Iliad: Books 1-6

This course will be a book-by-book close reading of the first six books of the Iliad, the great epic of ancient Greece. The Iliad is the earliest work in ancient Greek, written down sometime around 750–730 B.C.  Attributed to Homer, the Iliad was constructed by generations of bards orally retelling and commemorating in song a war fought in previous generations over the plains of Troy. The epic tells the tale of the wrath of the Greeks’ greatest warrior, Achilles, whose withdrawal from the conflict changes the course of the war.

In this seminar-style course we will examine the text, language, narrative, society, and traditions that shaped this epic, as well as the influence it has had in history, literature, archaeology, philology, and art. On our journey we will encounter the memorable characters of this heroic tale: the commanders of the expedition against Troy; Agamemnon; his cuckolded brother Menelaus; Priam, the doomed king of Troy; Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world and causis belli; Paris, her lover; Hector, the defender of the city; and Achilles, the young hero who knows that his glory is tied to his mortality. The Iliad is the unexcelled tale of life, death, passion, combat, fate, gods, and, above all, what is it to be human.

Venue: King's Chapel Parish House
Meets on: Wednesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 10/11/2023
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 16
Teaching Style: Seminar
Weekly Preparation: 1 - 2 hours
Group Leader Biography:

Robert Manning is a graduate of Providence College and Boston University School of Law. He was a labor lawyer for 30 years, representing workers and negotiating for unions in many industries and employment sectors, and is currently an arbitrator. Robert and his wife are residents of Beacon Hill and their two children attend public and private schools in the city. Robert is passionate about the classical world and the humanities and, post law school, has pursued these passions at Harvard Extension School, studying, among other things, screenwriting, Greek, Latin, German, religious studies, classical literature, and philosophy. He is also a member of the Classical Association of New England (CANE) and is on the Steering Committee for the CANE Summer Institute.