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Brandeis University

The Western Canon: From Homer to Milton


with William Flesch

1. Introductory lecture on the legendary and the real Homer as treated by Dante and Milton: Audio

2. Homeric simile in The Iliad: Audio

3. Iliad, mainly Book 6: Audio

4. Iliad: Hektor frightens Astyanax; Achilleus plays the lyre: Audio

5. Iliad: Achilleus, Patroklos, Hektor, Priam, and the laws of hospitality:Audio

6. The Odyssey: Funeral games and gift-giving  (a bit truncated due to glitch): Audio

7. Odyssey: Gifr-giving and hospitality: Audio

8. Odyssey: The Use of oral formulae: Audio

9. Odyssey: Why Odysseus is “no man”: Audio

10. Odyssey: Conclusion, including reunion and two greatest similes in the poem: Audio

11. Plato, Socrates, Zeno, Forms: Audio

12. Plato: The Cave and the argument against poetry: Audio

13. Aristophanes’s Clouds: his Socrates vs. Plato’s: Audio

14. Ovid: and his influence on Milton: Audio

15. Ovid and Virgil and their relation to Homer: Audio

16. Virgil’s sublimity: Audio

17. Virgil’s Homeric recapitulations. Doctor Johnson’s strictures: Audio

18. Dante: Introduction. Terza Rima. Dante’s Virgil. Topography of Hell:Audio

19. Dante: Inferno. Love, justice, desire: Audio

20. Dante: Inferno and Purgatorio: topographic ordering of sins in both, from least bad to worst: Audio

21. Dante: Purgatorio.  Contrapasso and allopathic punishment in Purgatory vs. homeopathic punishment in hell: Audio

22.  Dante: Purgatorio and Paradiso: Love and gravity; the idea of theodicy:Audio

23: Dante: Paradiso, the Universe, and everything: Audio

24. Milton: Paradiso and Paradise Lost: Audio

25. Milton: Paradise Lost and its antecedents in our reading: Audio

26. Milton: Freedom of conscience and guilt in Paradise Lost: Audio

27. Milton: Paradise Lost and conclusion of the course: parallels between all worlds; angelic sex; love and Adam’s self-sacrifice for Eve and hers for him: Audio



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