Podcast & iTunes U Round-Up #1

As usual, I am years behind everyone else when it comes to media and technology, but! About a year ago I started listening to podcasts and was surprised to find I really enjoyed them. More recently, I discovered iTunes U, and of course my first order of business was to seek out any and all lectures related to the Trojan War. Here are the ones I’ve listened to so far!

History of Theatre I
(2010, Freed-Hardeman University)

I listened to: “‘Agamemnon’ Discussion”

As the title suggests, this is a discussion about Aeschylus’ “Agamemnon” that touches on topics such as the play’s characters and themes, its possible visual impact, and how it fits into the larger Trojan War story. You probably need some familiarity with the play in order to follow what they’re talking about, but I enjoyed the discussions of how it might have been performed and received during its original production in classical Athens. I especially enjoyed the students’ confusion as to whether or not we are supposed to think that Agamemnon slept with Cassandra. Welcome to Greek mythology, friends!!

Unfortunately the quality of this recording isn’t fantastic – you can hear people rustling about pretty much the whole time – but once I got used to it it wasn’t so bad.

Ancient Greece: Myth, Art, War
(2013, La Trobe University)

I listened to:
“The Early Greek World and Greek Myths”
“Homer’s Iliad” (an interview)
“Homer and the Trojan War”
“The Iliad and Achilles”
“Athena, Women and War”
“Rage and Resolution: The Quest of Hector”
Iliad 22: The Quest of Hector”
“A King’s Ransom: Priam and Achilles”
“Bronze Age Greece and Troy”
“Homer’s World: Dark Age Greece”
“Euripides’ ‘Iphigenia in Aulis'”
“Sophocles’ ‘Ajax'”
“Euripides’ ‘Trojan Women'”
“The Trojan War in Greek Art”

So you might say that I am a little obsessed with this iTunes U course right now; it took me just over a week to listen to the thirteen 50-minute lectures and one 14-minute interview above. (I’ve even surprised myself and started listening to the lectures that don’t have a direct connection to the Trojan War.) Even though in university I took two classes where we studied the Iliad and I have read plenty about it on top of that, I still found a lot of new observations here, presented in an informative and sometimes humourous way. I’m less familiar with Greek tragedy and vase painting, so I especially enjoyed those lectures. A really nice bonus is that the slides used in each lecture have been uploaded as well (although only about half the images show up for me). A few particularly interesting ideas discussed in these lectures include:

· The importance and changing role of horses in the Iliad vs. the way Homer seems to have no idea how chariots were used in battle.

· The ways in which the Iliad is significantly different from other ancient epics: it has no monsters (… but can we read Achilles as the monster?) and no descent to the underworld (… but can we read Priam’s visit to Achilles as a descent to the underworld?).

· Is Hector running from Achilles the first honest thing he’s ever done?

· When Athena tricks Hector, is she taking from his glory or adding to it? When Achilles is killed by an arrow, does that take from his glory or add to it?

· The Iliad is a poem written in Greek for a Greek audience, so why are all the worst atrocities in it committed by Greek characters?

· After Achilles’ death, Odysseus and Ajax fight over his armour. It is awarded to Odysseus. Does this indicate the end of the age of heroes?

In case I haven’t already made it clear, I definitely recommend these lectures to anyone interested in the topics they cover.


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