Red room at the Palace at Knossos, Crete

Epic Heroes’ Journeys

A Fall 2020 First-Year Tutorial

Palace at Knossos, Crete, 2018. Photo by Angelo Mercado.

Epic Heroes’ Journeys

A First-Year Tutorial offered fall 2020, taught by Angelo Mercado, associate professor of classics

As you prepare to make a new home at Grinnell, we take the opportunity to explore the stories of the sons of Pāṇḍu and of Odysseus, heroes of Indic and Greek epic known the world over who journey to find home or found a new one. We will read the Mahābhārata and the Odyssey in translation, along with scholarly articles on various aspects of the epics, to examine how from such heroes’ journeys we construct our individual and collective identities.

"Prince of the Lilies", Heraklion Archaeological Museum
"Prince of the Lilies," Heraklion Archaeological Museum, 2018. Photo by Angelo Mercado.

Why I Chose to Teach This Topic

Tutorial is an opportunity for me and students to read slowly, which Nietzsche considered the art of philology. I love to do this with ancient epic, which is so full of interesting details that we don't notice when we read fast. Students take to the material and our approach. In past tutorials, I've read the Iliad; I read Emily Wilson's translation of the Odyssey a couple of years ago. This time, I've paired it with Carole Satyamurti's translation of the Mahābhārata, along with a selection of recent scholarship, all by women, in the hopes of diversifying our readings.

– Angelo Mercado


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