If we remember one thing about ancient myths, it is not to read them literally: Icarus didn't really fall into the sea because he flew too close to the sun. In this class, we will explore the frequently contentious debates about how to interpret myth as they played out in Europe from about 1500-1750. As we shall see, writing about myths ("mythography") mattered to the early moderns as a powerful way of making arguments about topics including politics, philosophy, religion, science, and sexuality. We will consider the histories of literature, ideas, and visual art, and treat authors ranging from Boccaccio and Machiavelli to Milton and Newton.
ENG 298 / COM 240