Classical Monsters




Course description: We all know and love the tales of monstrous beasts from the classical world. Whether it’s the Minotaur roaming his labyrinth; Scylla devouring men from her watery lair or the shocking beheading of Medusa by Perseus’ hand. But there is much more to these tales, beyond the surface lie deep and powerful messages about the human condition. If we want to get closer to the minds of the Greeks and Romans, let us examine the object of their fears. You will see these monsters like you never have before!

Delivery: The course will be delivered by a series of 4 video lectures, and separate group Q&As with the course tutor via a video conferencing platform. Participants will also receive a reading list, course literature and activities. Links and details will be sent to participants a few days before the course begins. Lectures will be released at 7pm each Monday and will be available to view for a month and half.

Accessibility: All lectures will have closed captions. The live Q&As will be recorded and fully captioned within 48 hours of their first being streamed. If you have any additional access requirements, please get in touch via

Lecture 1: Introduction to monsters: We will explore the archetypal classical monstrous tale; outline the roles of hero and monster; consider definitions of key terms and set the scene for the rest of the course.

Lecture 2 – Monsters and the human psyche: We will look at psychoanalytic explanations for monstrous myths, including discussion of Freud and Jung. Can we argue that monstrous myths are extensions of human fears and anxieties?

Lecture 3 – Monsters and the Landscape: we will look at how monsters have left their mark on the landscapes of Europe, tracing how myths attempted to explain natural phenomena like volcanic activity. Are monstrous myths an attempt to rationalize the physical world?

Lecture 4 – Monsters and society: we will examine how myths convey tension about social and cultural identities, such as the ‘foreign’, women, and social order. What can we learn about ancient attitudes to these ideas?

Your tutor: Jasmine Elmer is a media personality working in the field of Classics. She is the host of the podcast ‘Legit Classics’ with Hat trick Productions, and recently appeared in Channel 4’s ‘Lost treasures of Rome’. She has spent much of her academic career studying the mythical significance of monsters, with previous work on both the Chimera and the relationship between monsters and volcanic activity. Improving accessibility to Classics remains at the heart of everything she does, as she aims to ‘take classics to where the people are’ by reframing how we look at the ancient world.