Department of Greek & Latin


Summer School in Homer 2019

UK - Monday 22nd July to Friday 26th July 2019

The Summer School offers five days of intensive teaching of Homeric language and literature. There will be four language classes each day as well as lectures, between 10.30 and 16.30. The course is not residential.

Teaching will be generally in groups of 15-20 people which, as far as possible, comprise students of roughly the same level of experience (beginners, intermediate or advanced). The style of teaching is friendly, but demanding: a lot of work is expected from students during the School, but they should find the whole experience both stimulating and valuable. Some classes concentrate chiefly on reading texts, while others offer a mixture of grammar and translation practice. Our tutors include some of the most experienced and talented teachers of Classics in the London area and beyond.

Programme for classes of the Summer School in Homer 2019

Beginners Greek*

Book: "A Reading Course in Homeric Greek, Book 1 - by Raymond V. Schoder, S. J and Vincent C. Horrigan, S.J. - revised, with additional materials by Leslie Collins Edwards".

Pages 1-45, 52-54, 59-62, 66-68, 76-82 and 103-107 (i.e. Lessons 1-17, 20, 22, 24, 27-28, 32-33)

These pages cover:

- the alphabet and punctuation

- 1st, 2nd and 3rd declensions

- Present and Imperfect Active and Middle/Passive

- Present Imperative, Infinitive, Participles Active and Middle/Passive

- Intensive and Demonstrative Pronouns and Adjectives

- 1st and 2nd personal pronouns

Intermediate Greek*

Frank Beetham, Beginning Greek with Homer (An elementary course based on Odyssey 5), pp. 41-110.

Advanced Greek 1*

The class will cover Odyssey 6, using Janet Watson’s BCP edition of Homer: Odyssey VI & VII. That is just the right sort of level for Advanced I, with only 331 lines and lots of grammar and vocab help in that edition.

Advanced Greek 2*

The class will cover Iliad18. Based on previous experience, the advanced group should be able to get through all or nearly all of the text, which is just over 600 lines. Around 120 lines a day is about right for reading, translation and discussion.

Greek Religion and Homer†

The world of ancient Greek religion is to us a distant and often baffling one. Unlike in most religions we are familiar with today, the Greeks had neither holy books, nor a priestly class. Instead, so Herodotus the historian tells us, it was Homer and his fellow poets who first taught the Greeks about the gods, and gave them their names, honours, offices, and shapes. To understand the idea the Greeks had of their gods – what place the gods had in their world order, what they believed was owed to the gods, and what they might expect from them in return – we will in this course be closely reading Homer. In doing so, we will discover how to understand the Greek encounter with the divine, how it differs from what we find in other religions ancient and modern, and how it shaped Greek views on life and death, myth and morality, and fate and freedom.

Each day, students will prepare for class by reading a single assigned book from the Iliad or the Odyssey in Richard Lattimore’s translation. This reading will serve as the basis for us to explore and discuss a diverse array of themes in class. For this we will use a wealth of different passages from Homer and other texts, from ancient Mesopotamian myths to the Bible. We will also try to think through a number of ways in which the world of the Greek gods has been a source of obsessive attention from a number of decisive modern poets and thinkers. Why might it be they think the Greek gods, far from being creatures from obsolete fairy tales, have something to teach us yet?

This course requires no prior knowledge. All readings will be in English. It is open to all who are interested in the beauty of Homer’s poetry, in the history of culture, and in questions of the religious.

Provisional schedule:

Monday: The Gods, East and West. Iliad 1.

Tuesday: Temple and Cult. Iliad 6

Wednesday: Life and death. Odyssey 11.

Thursday: Myth and morality. Iliad 23.

Friday: Fate and freedom. Iliad 24.

Linear B*

Day 1 On the footsteps of Homer: The discovery of the Aegean Bronze Age

        Introduction to the course and course structure The father founders of Aegean Archaeology Aegean pre-history or history? When written evidence matters (?) Archaeology and text: The decipherment of LB LB tablets classification system: Museums and collections as modern 'Palaces'


Activity: Beyond Linear B, make your own Linear A tablet!

Day 2 Writing before Homer: The LB Writing System

        LB from a linguistic perspective:The LB sign inventory, spelling rules, palaeographic variants and scribal hands  LB tablets as material objects (pinacology): Tablet format and layout as reflective of administrative practice  Reading session: What do texts tell us? How to get silent texts to speak. A jump into Mycenaean economy, society & religion


Day 3 Digging out the Homeric world: The archaeological context of LB documents

        Wandering around the Aegean: The find-places of LB tablets Tablet deposits and their chronology

Activity: Brush up on LB with flashcards!



Day 4 How much did Homer know? Matching LB evidence and the Homeric text

Homeric references to an ancient past (Bronze and Iron Age) Burning question:Is Homer a historical source? How to make use of the Homeric data? How to incorporate the LB evidence? Beyond Greek: Homeric description of ancient Crete (& reading bits of Linear A) Reading session: Texts that relate to the Homeric background, Gods, names in Mycenaean and their classical Greek counterparts
  • What does a LB 'archive' look like?
  • Reading se ssion: 'Across space and time'. Reading illustrative sets of tablets from geographically and chronologically different deposits

Activity: Make your own Linear B tablet!

Day 5 What does an outsider look like? The 'Aegeans' from external sources

        Stepping out of the Aegean: Egyptian and Hittite Sources References to trade on LB documents? An 'Aegean' cargo: The Uluburun shipwreck Reading sessions: Tablets with references to trade and external placeS Activity:Become a Mycenologist! LB hands-on session at the British Museum and visit to the Aegean Bronze Age collection

Activity: 'Mycenopoly' (board game based on LB find-places and tablet deposits; courtesy of Dr. Anna P. Judson)


Homer from Translation - Reception of Homer†

Themes: the gods and goddesses, women, heroism, aristeia, kleos, the Homeric question, Penelope, Helen, and Achilles and Hector. There will also be classes on reception of Homer in Renaissance and in all the above themes in other modes of representation such as novelisations, cinema, modern poetry etc..

Homeric Meditations and Yoga⁂

In this course, students will be guided through a meditation and movement practice, combining breathing exercises, creative visualization, intuitive movement, and postural work grounded in the tradition of hatha yoga. Readings (in English translation), group discussion, and journaling exercises related to themes from Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey will intersperse and inspire the focus of our practice as we explore the known and envisage the unknown terrain of ourselves. This course will thereby address the tension between the culturally specific dimensions of Homer’s epics and their transcultural applications in our contemporary experience of being human.

We will use Homer’s texts, and some parallels from yogic philosophy (e.g. the Bhagavad Gita from the Hindu epic tradition) to catalyse compassionate conversations with the body in movement and at rest, in archetypal postures of warriors and corpses, dancers and sages, as a means of understanding our relationship to ourselves from the perspective of a kindly observer.

Ultimately, we will seek to understand the value of Homer’s text through embodied experience, by observing and participating in the movements of mind, body, and breath.

Some prospective themes:

    • Who, or what is Helen?: Chasing the evasive beloved

    • Aristeia: Tracing action and reaction in Achilles and in ourselves

    • Katabasis: Finding the inner mentors through contemplative practice

    • Singers of tales: Which ones can we trust in Homer? In ourselves?

    •  Xenia:Meeting ourselves as guest, host, stranger, friend

All levels of experience with yoga, meditation, and movement practices are welcome. Modifications/alternative postures will be offered throughout, in what is designed primarily to be a supportive and safe space for accessible self-exploration and self-inquiry.

NOTE: Please wear comfortable clothing suitable for movement. You will need to bring your own yoga/exercise mat and any props (a cushion/blanket/towel) you would like to have.

There will be chairs available for meditation/reading/writing/the other non-movement activities in this course.

Homeric Meditations Intro and Sample Practice

Latin Palaeography and Homer†

This course will introduce the history of Latin scripts from ancient Rome down to the invention of printing.  There will be presentations on the scripts themselves, and on the manuscript books that ensured the transmission of classical texts from Antiquity to the Renaissance.  These will be supplemented by a display of actual writing materials, encouraging discussions on the materiality of the books and their writing materials, and the impact that this had both on the handwriting and on the preservation of the books.  Much of the time will be spent on practical transcription exercises, learning to decipher a variety of scripts ranging from the capital letters used in the age of Augustus to the more challenging cursive handwriting of some medieval periods.  Wherever possible, the texts transcribed will have a Homeric theme, e.g. Virgil's Aeneid.  Participants should have at least a rudimentary knowledge of Latin in order to participate fully in the transcription exercises. Non-Latinists can be admitted at the discretion of the course tutor.

Ancient Philosophy and Homer

Monday 22 July: Early Greek Philosophy

Heraclitus, Xenophanes, Early allegorical interpretations of Homer, The Sophists

Tuesday 23 July: Plato

Ion, Hippias Minor

Wednesday 24 July: Plato

Republic II-III

Thursday 25 July: Plato

Republic X

Friday 26 July: Aristotle

Homeric Problems, Poetics

 language course / † literature course / ⁂ practical course

Programme, Cost and Application form

  • The provisional programme for the Summer School in Homer is now available. Please note: this programme is still subject to change.
  • The cost of the Summer School is £130. This includes all tuition, but not accommodation or travel expenses.

The Summer School in Homer caters for school and university students, and for anyone else who wishes to learn Homeric Greek, or to revive their knowledge of it. Potential participants will include: students with no prior knowledge of the language; pre-GCSE/GCSE and A-Level students; university students; mature applicants who wish to expand their knowledge of the Homeric epics. Our principal concern is to provide a thorough programme of language learning in a lively university environment.

Enquiries: please email the Summer School. All completed application forms should be returned, to be received no later than Monday 15th July 2019, to:

Summer School in Homer 2019

The Director, Dr Antony Makrinos
The Summer School in Homer
c/o Department of Greek and Latin
University College London
Gower Street


Bursary application form

Travel grant application form

Useful information

  • How to find us

University College London's Bloomsbury campus is located close to Euston station. A map of the campus and information on individual venues is also available.

  • We are well served by public transport, particularly bus and tube services.
  • Accommodation

The Summer School is non-residential. However, students who require somewhere to stay can (subject to availability) arrange accommodation in a University of London Hall of Residence. Details of prices, availability and information on how to book can be found at the website. Additionally, places may be available in a UCL Hall of Residence. Further information about UCL Residences can be found here.