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Classical Mythology

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  600 ratings  ·  81 reviews
These 24 lectures are a vibrant introduction to the primary characters and most important stories of classical Greek and Roman mythology. Among those you'll investigate are the accounts of the creation of the world in Hesiod's Theogony and Ovid's Metamorphoses; the gods Zeus, Apollo, Demeter, Persephone, Hermes, Dionysos, and Aphrodite; the Greek heroes, Theseus and Heracl ...more
Audible Audio, 13 pages
Published July 8th 2013 by The Great Courses (first published 2000)
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4.28  · 
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 ·  600 ratings  ·  81 reviews

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May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, favorites, mythology
This is an invaluable resource for understanding classical mythology, not coincidentally the course’s name. I confess to undervaluing/underestimating the impact of mythology on national self-identity and society. Within its culture of origin, myths are not viewed as ‘myths’ but truth, stories as tradition, defining limits, providing explanation, and/or overlapping with religion. In previous eras, ‘story’ as such, did not suffer from the second-class status it bears now in our scientific, facts-o ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
This woman deserves six stars. She's a wonderful story teller and magnificently clear to understand.
Vandiver clearly loves and knows her topic. She is great fun to listen to. Nicely done and very infromative, even for someone very familiar with the Greek and Roman myths.
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Myths are never myths to those who believe. The stories we tell ourselves in order to encode our hopes, aspirations and fears are one way we shape our understanding. Hegel used concepts, St. Thomas Aquinas saw our understanding through actions (the ‘to be’), and the pre-Socratic myths (and the post ‘Being and Time’ Heidegger) focused on our experiences.

Classical mythology is more relevant today than any blog post by Brietbart News, or radio show by Laura Ingram or any news broadcast on Fox News
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loooooved listening to this lecture series on audiobook. Vandiver gives a fantastic introduction to classical mythology - mainly Greek, but some Roman too - examining what it meant to its contemporaries and how it has affected history and even our culture today. Each lecture is engaging, entertaining and informative, and the series as a whole is coherent and accessible. I basically didn't want it to end.
Morgan Blackledge
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Humans are naked apes, that came from the brink of extinction, and without fangs, claws and fur, somehow found a way to the top of the food chain, and are now successful as a species to the extent that we may kill everything else and ourselves along with that.

There are several commonly held ideas about precisely which trait(s) conferred humans with this ridiculous advantage.

But all of them seem to boil down to the human ability to collaborate and think and communicate in language.

Other animals
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
I love this 24-lecture series about Greek and Roman mythology. What is most helpful to me is the overview of what the actual sources are, whereas I mostly know the stories as stories -- with this idea that develops that myth is timeless, and doesn't come from an original source. On the contrary, this lecture series helped me look at the myths from the perspective of text and context, rather than from the perspective of the stories themselves as they've survived rewritten down through the centuri ...more
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I decided to listen to this set of lectures after reading Jo Walton's The Just City. It had been sitting in my digital library for a couple of years for no reason other than I was waiting for the perfect time to delve into it.

In the back of my mind, I was thinking it would be a set of lectures along the lines of Bullfinch's Mythology. While there were plenty of myths discussed, the strength of this series is the historical context and intriguing analysis Elizabeth Vandiver put forth. Moreover, I
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely five stars. Even though I knew all the stories already, the insight Elizabeth Vandiver brings into them is accurate, unique and invaluable.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, classic
This is a series of lectures on mostly Greek and Roman mythology. The professor goes over the most popular myths and discusses the history around the myth as well as compares the myth to other myths and stories. Over all the lectures were easy to listen to and I learned new things about the world these myths took place in and their views and society at the time. If you like mythology and you don’t already have a deep knowledge about Greek myths I would recommend this audiobook.
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I could honestly listen to Elizabeth Vandiver talk about Ancient Greece and Rome forever. I wish she had a course on Ovid.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was such a mind-blowing experience for me. I thought I was familiar with Classical Mythology but I was not. Elizabeth Vandiver, the lecturer, explained the myths in a way I had never heard. The classical myths are a huge part of our culture and I never realized it. Everyone should hear these lectures.
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
Vandiver's course on Classical Mythology offers both a broad overview of Greek and Latin myth and also a precise, scholarly approach to mythology. The first couple of lectures don't talk about the myths themselves, but rather about the study of mythology, some key mythologists, and a definition of how she approaches myth. She then delves into discussing the Greek pantheon, then a few heroes (Theseus and Herakles, in particular) and finally addresses how Romans adapted Greek myth for their own cu ...more
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've loved Classical Mythology since I was 12. I loved the stories of these childish and petulant gods, their petty schemes and squabble. And the adventures of their various heroic offsprings, triumphant or tragic they may be. I swallowed them whole (like Cronos with his children).

I didn't know what I was expecting when I purchased this thing. Did I want to hear the stories read to me? Did I want the Trojan War brought to life? This course isn't that, but an examination of the theories and studi
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
I got more than I expected out of this series of lectures. The aspect I enjoyed the most, much to my surprise, was learning how to examine myth. Thinking about myth, interpreting myth and answering the question of why these stories exist and have remained so much a part of our storytelling toolbox. I particularly liked the Professor Vandiver's suggestion in the last lecture that science fiction is our new mythology. Now that we have explored all the edges of our world, we have to hide out monste ...more
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting and informative book. The lecturer made the subject matter interesting, and she even injected humor at times. I had expected a somewhat dry book about various myths involving names I couldn't pronounce or remember. Instead, this was a fascinating book about ancient cultures, how myths evolved, what myths are, the purpose of myths, and the actual myths themselves. I learned quite a bit about this topic and now have a better understanding of the derivation of many commo ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic, mythology
Elizabeth Vandiver is a wonderful teacher. The most important thing I’ve learned is to approach mythology critically.
Jurij Fedorov
Jun 26, 2019 rated it liked it
There is a lot of info here about specific myths if you are desperate for it. But it's mostly very short stories and it always has a feminist view point that seems misplaced. Overall it's dry and boring to listen too unless you ready need this info for an exam.


There is a lot of info here. It's told in very small stories a few minutes each and the narration jumps from place to place. But the author does know about this mythology. It's not someone just guessing.


I keep saying this about mos
Sara Sherra
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Ever since i was a child, i've been fascinated by Greek mythology. I never thought of the stories in the "religious" way they were meant for, rather it was the imagination that pulled me in, which is only natural for a child with my tendency to daydream. As i grew up, their stories stuck with me, also for the same reason, and i grew to appreciate "imagination" more, to the extent perhaps that i never thought to actually look at them in a critical way, despite how strange and irrational that is. ...more
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this course! Everything was easily laid out and told like a story. The professor made the background clear as well, so it made sense why myths sometimes exist in nonsensical timelines and contradict each other, which is because they’re always evolving, as is the way with oral storytelling. Also, some of our accounts made be embellished or changed, as we sometimes only have a few or perhaps only one source for many myths. I learned many myths I had previously not known and a lot ...more
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, history
Wonderful lectures on the meaning of the myths in relation to the Greek people and Hellenic cultures. Most of the myths regarding the gods are briefly retold but many involving heroes and mortals are merely alluded to and previous knowledge or further reading is required. The speaker is passionate about her subject but her bias towards the gods shows in its enthusiastic telling while her relating of mortal deeds is sometimes dry and uninspiring. Briefly touches upon the Roman appropriation of Gr ...more
Liz Lem
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating lectures on myths, their origins and historical context. I stumbled on this audio book because I noticed that the vast majority of The Great Courses are done by men and I wondered if they ever hired any women to do their courses. Prof. Elizabeth Vandiver is a great speaker and clearly knows her stuff through her research, writings and being a teacher. I liked how she often referred to what she learned from her own students in discussing Classical Mythology with them.
Anna Newec
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating insight into classical mythology. Professor Vandiver is a born story-teller, so the lecture is funny, interesting, easy to follow and fun! It encourages you to study the classical myths more deeply and lets you develop your own thoughts. It helps to be familiat with classical mythology (I think), but she tells a relevant myth prior to discussing and analysing it. I particularly loved her closing statement about what our myths today look like.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
After all these years waiting to do this course I wasn't very interested, a disappointment, some parts were interesting, but I guess I like my mythology from Hercules much better!!! but cleaned off a spot on my shelf anyways
Suzanne Thackston
Probably if Vandiver were actually a Hellenic polytheist (she's clearly not) this lecture series might be even better. Even so, this is a huge favorite of mine.
Christopher Hellstrom
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've listened to the "Great Courses" for over 25 years and Classical Mythology has to be in my top 3. Vandiver is a a great lecturer and she made me want to check out/ revisit the source material
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
An interesting overview of Classical Mythology. Great for anyone curious where myths come from, history, or ancient culture.
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a much better option for myth interpretation compared to another Great Courses title “Life Lessons from the Great Myths”, by J. Rufus Fears. Better quality and less morally-slanted teaching.
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Elizabeth Vandiver is Associate Professor of Classics and Clement Biddle Penrose Professor of Latin at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. She was formerly Director of the Honors Humanities program at the University of Maryland at College Park, where she also taught in the Department of Classics. She completed her undergraduate work at Shimer College and went on to earn her M.A. and Ph.D. ...more