Homer’s Iliad: A Three-Part Course with Dr. Joseph Luzzi

Homer’s Iliad: A Three-Part Course with Dr. Joseph Luzzi


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Why do many believe that Homer’s magnificent epic The Iliad “inaugurates” the Western literary tradition and even establishes an artistic gold standard that has proven remarkably difficult to rival in the centuries to come? How did this ancient oral poem make the transition into the “reading” cultures of modernity, and what valuable lessons have the book offered its imitators, both in the epic genre and in literature writ large?

In this three-part series, led by award-winner author, scholar, and teacher Joseph Luzzi, Professor of Comparative Literature at Bard College, we will discover what makes Homer’s great work “tick” by exploring the essential formal and thematic elements that give the Iliad its unusual force, even today, nearly three millennia after it was composed. 

Recommended book edition: Homer, The Iliad (Trans. Robert Fagles; Penguin, 1998)

Lecture 1: The Wrath of Achilles

Our first session will set the stage, introduce us to Achilles and the source of his deep anger as we focus on The Iliad, Books 1–8. 

Lecture 2: The Fog of War

Our second session will take us through the tactical choices and results of battle when we focus on The Iliad, Books 9–16. 

Lecture 3: The Death of Hector

Our third and final session will explore the events that lead to the slaughter of Hector and the aftermath when we focus on The Iliad, Books 17–24.

Joseph Luzzi received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is a Professor of Comparative Literature and Faculty Member in Italian Studies at Bard College, where he has taught since 2002 after being a visiting faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania. A frequent contributor to publications including the New York Times, TLS, and Chronicle of Higher Education, he is the author of 5 books, including My Two Italies, a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love, a Vanity Fair “Must-Read” selection. His work has been translated into multiple languages and his many awards include a Yale College Teaching Prize, Dante Society of America Essay Prize, and Wallace Fellowship at Villa I Tatti, Harvard’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. In 2017 he was named Cittadino Onorario/Honorary Citizen in Acri, Calabria, his Italian parents’ birthplace. His next book is Botticelli’s Secret: The Lost Drawings and the Rediscovery of the Renaissance, which will be published by W. W. Norton. Professor Luzzi is the founder of the Virtual Book Club, an online community of readers dedicated to exploring some of the best books ever written. Learn more at JosephLuzzi.com.

How does it work?

This is a three-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $105 for three lectures.

Is a recording available?

Yes. If you need to miss a lecture, you will be sent a recording after the event.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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