Odysseus--The Trickster Hero
Episode 2 of Heroes and Legends

The Great Courses
Show More

Related videos

Odysseus, Master of Schemes
Turn now to the hero of Homer's celebrated Odyssey: Odysseus. From his plans for the Trojan horse to his tricking of a murderous cyclops to his final arrival back in Ithaca, learn how Odysseus's scheming and lying led to heroic triumphs that made his story relatable to everyday ancient Greeks--and…
The Golden Fleece and the Hero’s Return
An altogether different--and darker--mythological adventure story is Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece. In pondering the best-known versions of both Jason's story and his wife, Medea's, you'll begin to see Jason as a failed hero and Medea as more than just the woman who murdered her own children.
Herakles and the Greek Hero
Investigate the mythological roots and legacies of the powerful--but flawed--Greek hero, Herakles. Explore common threads that run through some of his twelve labors, including the slaying of the Hydra and the cleaning of the Augean stables. Also, ponder Herakles's role in ancient Greek society as both mortal and god.
The Dagda’s Harp and Other Celtic Myths
Using the intriguing tale of Dagda and his magic harp as a framework, Professor McClymond introduces you to the often unappreciated world of Celtic mythology. Meet unforgettable heroes like Cu Chulainn and Lugh, and encounter powerful magical items and treasures with unique personalities, including the Stone of Fal.
Hammers, Rings, and Other Norse Magic
Skidbladnir, the ship of the gods that can also fit in your pocket. Andvarinaut, a powerful ring that inspired a cycle of mythological stories. These and other magical items are the prized possessions of Norse kings, warriors, and heroes. And their importance--and legacies--are the subject of this final lecture.
Norse Tales of Odin and Thor
Dark and brooding, Norse mythology reflects the harsh living conditions of ancient Germanic and Scandinavian people. Here, focus on two of the most well-known Norse gods: Odin (the god of war who sacrificed himself on a tree) and Thor (the god of order who wields his dwarf-crafted hammer, Mjolnir).
Beowulf--A Hero with Hidden Depths
Episode 7 of Heroes and Legends
Beowulf is not an easy poem to understand, but Beowulf is not an easy character to understand. Here, analyze how this classic male hero--a big, strong, monster killer--may have a hidden vulnerability. Then, look at what insights Beowulf's story offers about life and death, the limits of self-reliance, and the…
Don Quixote--The First of the Wannabes
Episode 10 of Heroes and Legends
Turn next to Don Quixote, a wannabe knight-errant whose infamous exploits mark a pivotal moment in the history of literature. Explore his fantastic adventures and meet Sancho Panza, who is perhaps literature's first antihero. See why this novel is so innovative and how it has influenced writers in the centuries…
The Titans in Greek Mythology
Welcome to the ancient Greek myths: some of the most popular, well-known stories in Western civilization. When did these tales emerge, and what are our earliest sources for them? Find out in this lecture on father-son conflicts between Uranus, Kronos, Zeus, and the other first-generation gods known as the Titans.
Complex Goddesses: Athena, Aphrodite, Hera
Meet three iconic goddesses whose personalities and stories reflect how the ancient Greeks viewed women. They are: Athena, who emerged fully-formed from Zeus's head and is linked to legal courts; Aphrodite, best known for her wild love affair with Adonis; and Hera, Zeus's wife-sister, who presides over marriage and childbirth.
Gods and Humanity in Greek Thought
Discover fresh insights into several Greek myths that teach us about the relationship between gods and humans. Is Prometheus a troublemaker (according to Hesiod) or a liberator (according to Aeschylus)? What happened after Pandora's box of evil spirits was opened? How did Persephone's kidnapping inspire the Eleusinian Mysteries?
Roman Heroes and Traitors
Discover why Aeneas, the ancestor of all Romans, and Tarpeia, who betrayed Rome for personal gain, are two sides of the same coin. As you explore their stories, you'll see how they offer inspirational (and cautionary) testaments to Rome's values--and reflect character types we see in almost every civilization's myths.