University of Arkansas. Fall, 2001 
Classical Studies 1003
Daniel B. Levine

Paper Assignment: Homer and Art

Achilles prepares to drag the corpse of Hector around Patroclus' tomb.

*For a close-up of this vase scene, and information about it, see the bottom of this page.


From the seventh-century BCE onwards, ancient Greek vase painters produced works relating to Homeric poetry. Scenes from the Trojan war and the adventures of Odysseus made up a large portion of these artistic works.

Assignment Summary:

Students will read from the Iliad and Odyssey and write about how artistic depictions of scenes from these stories compare to the texts themselves.

Due Date: Wednesday, October 10.

No late papers will be accepted.




1. Read all of the Iliad and Odyssey in Lombardo's THE ESSENTIAL HOMER.

2. Choose one of the topics listed below (Helen, Priam, Patroclus, Circe, Penelope, etc..).

3. Find three ancient Greek artistic representations of your topic that refer to a scene in the Iliad or Odyssey. You may choose three representations of one scene, or representations of three different scenes from the epics.

You must use either the Perseus web site ( or the LEXICON ICONOGRAPHICUM MYTHOLOGIAE CLASSICAE (LIMC, easily accessible in the Reference section of Mullins Library). Both sources have thousands of images, easily accessible. The images in the LIMC are all black and white; most of Perseus' images are color.

4. Describe the artistic works in terms of medium, decoration, date, place of origin (if known), size, and function. Be sure to explain any Greek words that you use. Look up the words you don't know, and define them.

5. Describe the scene/character you have chosen as it appears in the epic(s), with careful reference to the texts of Iliad and/or Odyssey. Include summaries and appropriate (short) quotations. If you choose a character appearing frequently in both epics (like Zeus, Athena, Odysseus, or Achilles), make reference to at least two important scenes in each epic -- preferably including scenes that parallel the art works you have chosen.

6. Write about how each artistic depiction is similar to the epic text to which it refers. How do they differ from the text? What has the artist added or left out? What does the artist choose to stress? What is the effect on the observer?

7. What similarities do you find among the representations?

8. What differences do you find among the representations?

9) Include a bibliography of all sources you consult, including: author, title, place and date of publication, web site addresses and date of visit.

10. Include legible hard copies of the works you discuss (photocopied, scanned, or downloaded and printed);

11) Include an appropriate title for your essay, based on what you have found in your research.

Length: No fewer than five, and no more than ten typed pages, double-spaced in 12-point type.

Due Date: Wednesday October 10, 2001.


For Professor Levine's Tips on writing papers for his classes, go HERE.


Paper Topic Choices:








Polyphemus (Cyclops)















*Here is a close-up from the vase above, followed by information about the scene of Achilles dragging Hector's corpse.

Priam and Hecuba (left) in Troy, watching Achilles get into his chariot to drag the body of Hector (below) past the tomb of Patroclus. Note that the artist has written Hector's name above his corpse.

This image and the following description are on the Perseus web site. This vase is Boston 63.473.


Summary: Attic Black Figure Hydria Attributed to the Antiope Group.

Date: ca.. 520 B.C. - 510 B.C.E. (Late Archaic Period).

Achilles drags body of Hektor past tomb of Patroklos. Achilles wears short chiton and Corinthian helmet, and is armed with two spears and shield (device on shield is triskeles). He steps to the right into the chariot, looking back at Priam and Hecuba who stand in a porch with Doric column. Priam wears himation which covers his head, holds a staff in one hand and stretches the other out at Achilles. Hecuba puts hand to forehead in mourning. Hektor's body is dragged behind the chariot by the feet. The tomb of Patroklos is indicated by a white burial mound, above which flies a winged, armed eidolon of Patroklos. A bearded snake crawls in front of the tomb. In front of the chariot, Iris runs to the left, wearing chiton, himation and necklace, her arms raised. Inscriptions: above Hektor, EKTOR ("Hektor"), on tomb, PATROKLO("Patroklos"). Graffito on base: LE ("LE"). (Beth McIntosh)


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