Sunoikisis Greek Course Update

Hello, readers! My name is Amy Hendricks, and I am currently a junior at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. I am double-majoring in Greek and Roman Studies and English Literature, and I am taking both courses offered through Sunoikisis this semester. To help everyone understand how a Sunoikisis Greek class functions, I am going to give a little bit of information about each common session leading up to the midterm.

The first several weeks of the Sunoikisis Course on Homeric Poetry have been a whirlwind. Students have been working through Books 3 and 6 of the Iliad at their home institutions and covering a wide range of topics through the online weekly common sessions.

During our first common session, Dr. Scott Garner of Rhodes College taught the twenty-two students about Oral Tradition by having us examine The Wedding of Mustajbey’s Son Becirbey, a poem from the South Slavic tradition. Dr. Garner explained the basic tenets of the theory of Oral Tradition, noting the research done by Milman Parry and Albert Lord in Yugoslavia in the 1930s.

Our second common session was led by Professor Joe Romero from the University of Mary Washington and focused on Type-Scenes in the Iliad. With specific attention to Prayer Type-Scenes, we looked at Chryses’ prayer to Apollo in Book 1 as well as a few other prayers in the Iliad.

Week three featured a common session on Narratology, taught by Professor David Carlisle of Cornell College. Professor Carlisle took us through the various levels of narration, touching on aspects such as story and closure, and helping us understand the complex ways in which stories are put together.

In our next common session, Professor Hal Haskell from Southwestern university taught us about the Historicity of the Trojan War and the Iliad, referencing Heinrich Schliemann’s research and teaching us that even when research may not be correct, the ideas behind it can still be valuable.

Professor Arum Park from Brigham Young University led the fifth common session, which focused on Homeric Economy. Based on the premise that economy must be understood in the terms and context of a given culture and society, Professor Park had us discuss the practice of Reciprocity in the Iliad.

In the final common session before the midterm week, Professor Nigel Nicholson of Reed College taught us about Genre, and specifically the genre of Epic. Professor Nicholson had students compare and contrast the Iliad with Proclus’ summaries of the Cypria and the Aethiopis and explained that genre is based on relationships between texts as well as on politics and ideologies.

As we continue to learn about the different lenses through which the Iliad may be understood, I will keep everyone updated about our progress. Thanks for reading!