- The new film, "Argo", seems to have no overlying connection to classical mythology. It seems to be about a moment in American/Iranian history, when the American embassy to Tehran was overrun and American hostages taken. The subsequent events are narrated in this new film. Reviews are pretty favorable all around. Having NOT seen the film myself, I don't know what the connection to the mythological ship, the Argo, is; but, I'm intrigued.
The sailing of the Argo is, in classical mythology, a moment of water-shed importance. The sailing of the Argo was the first moment in Greece's interaction with the distant East. Historians sometimes look to the sailing of the Argo as a more-than-mythological narrative, a narrative of commercial interaction between East and West. In myth, though, Jason builds the Argo under divine supervision, fills it with the best heroes of the age, and sails it to Colchis to recover the Golden Fleece. The episode comes before the Trojan War; for Peleus and Thetis, Achilles' parents, meet during the Argonautica.
If I were to view this film, I would watch for some overt reference to the mythological ship. Why is the film named after the Argo?
- Any mastery image, any film in the Orpheus Film Festival, any piece of art dated after 1300 AD in Morford and Lenardon's mythology book could be taken on as a fair-game topic. Some from this last set (ML) will be more engaging than others.
From the page of Morford and Lenardon, I am drawn to
- Joyce Carol Oates, Angel of Light, a 1981 novel offering "an American version of the Oresteia". Since the course turns toward Oresteia after Odyssey, this would be a timely topic.
- Barry Unsworth, The Song of Songs, a 2003 novel offering "a revisionist retelling of the sacrifice of Iphigenia. The sacrifice of Iphigenia is a key element in both the narrative of the Trojan War and also in the fate of Agamemnon (i.e. the Oresteia). This topic would prepare you for material coming soon in the course.
- Harry Partch's Revelation in the Courthouse Park, a modern reworking of the Bacchae by Euripides. I've never seen this, but I've read about it for years in ML's text. I think I'd like to actually see it and then write about it. Partch himself discusses the usage himself in an essay excerpted by ML on p. 320 (text box).
I don't know Partch's music, but the HBLL has all the works mentioned by ML in p. 320 fn. 8 and p. 333. This one seems straightforward and easy.
- George Friedrich Handel's Semele. This opera is about Jupiter's seduction of Semele. Having seen it in 1999 on a stage, I am still moved by the lengthy aria by Semele, whose anticipation of her association with Jupiter is partly erotic and partly ecstatic. She sings of her association with Jupiter in almost religious terms of an acolyte encountering the sky god. Handel worked with several mythological narratives in his operas and oratorios. This seems to me one of the most engaging.
Stumped for a topic?
Consider the database of slides at fm/OGCMA or stick your nose into Reid's OGCMA.
Feel free to float ideas past the TAs or Macfarlane.