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Seminar Greek: Homer Iliad 16: Close Reading, Slow Reading, Re-Reading


Admission requirements

This class can be taken in fulfilment of the requirements of both the MA and the Research MA program in Classics and Ancient Civilizations (track Classics), with differential requirements.
Admission requirements for other students: a BA degree in Classics obtained from a university in the Netherlands, or a comparable qualification obtained from a university outside the Netherlands. Moreover, students with an international degree have to contact the coordinator of studies to check admissibility.


In this class we will read Book 16 of the Iliad carefully and closely, going through it at least twice and paying particular attention to form, style, language, and poetics. The book is well-known for its depiction of the aristeia and death of Patroclus, the death of Sarpedon, and its elaborate deployment of similes. We will read commentaries and scholia alongside, following as many threads as we can and jumping to other sections of the Iliad and the Odyssey in order to elaborate on an idea or theme. One of the questions we’ll be investigating in this class is how to approach Homer as an object of literary study. We will also read two to three different pieces of scholarship a week, addressing a range of approaches.

Course objectives

The goal of the course is to acquire a close and deep familiarity with Homeric language, style and theme. By immersing themselves in a relatively short work (Iliad 16 is 867 lines) students will have ample time to construct a carefully defined and thoroughly researched paper. We will also work on abstract writing skills, as students will be required, 5 weeks into the course, to compose a 1 page abstract outlining the theme of their paper, as if for a conference. Students will be expected to learn and explore a wide variety of literary and critical approaches and will emerge from the course with a good familiarity of the major topics and scholars in Homeric research. We will also work on oral presentation skills, commentary reading and writing (students will together compose a Google doc commentary on Iliad 16), and translation of Homeric language.


Please consult the timetables on the Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load when taken for 5 ec = 140 hours; when taken for 10 ec = 280 hours.

5 ec:

  • Class hours: 7×4 hours = 28;

  • Oral presentation & exam on two books of Homer =112 hours.

10 ec:

  • Class hours: 7×4 hours = 28

  • Oral presentation & exam on two books of Homer =112 hours; * Abstract and paper = 140 hours.

Assessment method

  • Active participation and preparation (10%)

  • Oral presentation (20%)

  • Written or oral exam on two books of Homer (20%)

  • Abstract (5%)

  • Paper (45%)



Reading list

To be announced at first class meeting.


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University.


Prof. dr. Alex Purves
Prof. dr. Ineke Sluiter