Methodology: Intertextuality and Classical Storytelling


Course Objective

The aim of this course is to introduce you to two central methodologies
in the study of classics: narratology and intertextuality.

Narratology offers a refined set of instruments to analyze narrative,
the text type of most classical texts (epic, historiography and the
embedded narratives of lyric and drama). You will study the most
important theoretical concepts of narratology and learn how to use them
when reading and interpreting narrative texts.

Scholars have always discerned traces of earlier classical poems in
later ones. The influence of Homer, for instance, can be found in almost
every line of Virgil’s Aeneid. But what do we make of these traces? In
the nineteenth century, in particular Hellenistic and Roman poetry were
criticized as secondary works of literature. In the last few decades
however, intertextual theory has offered various ways to give meaning to
the presence of the earlier text in the later one, and we are currently
able to see how poets self-consciously place their poetry in a long and
dynamic tradition. Intertextuality is now an indispensable tool when
reading classical poetry.

Course Content


You will be introduced to key concepts of narratology, such as the role
of the narrator and his addressee, the narratee, focalization or point
of view, the manipulation of time (retardation and acceleration,
repetition and omission, foreshadowing and flash-back), description, the
structure of narrative and its linguistic underpinning. These concepts
will be used when reading passages from Greek and Latin narrative
literature, and it will be discussed how these concepts can help us to
correct, expand or refine existent interpretations and suggest new ones.


You will be introduced to the (pre)history of intertextuality and the
problems concerning the interpretation of intertextual contact: is there
a difference, for instance, between just a reference and a self-
conscious allusion? And how can we tell? Do classical texts for example
somehow express their intertextuality? These and other questions will be
asked by means of case studies from Virgil's Aeneid and this epic's
intertextuality with, for instance, the Iliad, the Odyssey, Catullus,
and Virgil's own works.

Teaching Methods

Lectures and seminar, 2 x 2 hours a week.

Method of Assessment

Paper (40%) and a written exam (60%).


- I.J.F. de Jong, Narratology and Classics. A Practical Guide, Oxford,
OUP 2014;
- S. Hinds. Allusion and Intertext: Dynamics of Appropriation in Roman
Poetry, Cambridge, CUP 1998;
- syllabus with the primary texts (via canvas).

Target Audience

MA students Classics and Ancient Civilizations

Custom Course Registration

This module is taught at the UvA by prof. dr. I.J.F. de Jong (UvA) (UvA subject code 172421006Y). Module registration with a UvaNetID at the UvA is required. Please note that course registration periods at the UvA and VU differ. For a ‘step-by-step guide to course and exam registration’ and the ‘dates for course and exam registration’ please consult the ‘course and exam registration’-page via the ‘A-Z list’ of your MA programme on

General Information

Course Code L_AAMAOHS047
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator prof. dr. I.J.F. de Jong
Teaching Staff prof. dr. I.J.F. de Jong

Practical Information

You cannot register for this course yourself; your faculty's education office carries out registration

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar
Target audiences

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