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The Heritage of the West: The Classics & Intertextuality in Art & Literature


Admission requirements

This course is open to all BA students. No specific knowledge of Latin or Greek required. Students of Classics are also most welcome.

This class is also a part of the minor De oudheid voor iedereen (cultuur-historisch traject).


In this course, we study canonical texts and works of art from the classical and modern western traditions.

After an introduction to the phenomenon of intertextuality, we will deal with (a selection from) the following topics: (i) Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and the figure of Pygmalion in the arts; (ii) Virgil’s Aeneid and Vondel’s Gysbrecht; (iii) the Medea’s of Euripides, Seneca and Christa Wolf; (iv) Plato’s Symposium and Phaedrus and Thomas Mann’s Der Tod in Venedig; (v) Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita and Scipio in literature and the arts.

Course objectives

The course aims to demonstrate important aspects of the phenomenon of intertextuality by confronting pairs of classical and (early) modern works of art.


Please consult the timetable on the website of the Colleges voor keuzevakstudenten Griekse en Latijnse taal en cultuur.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Course load for 5 EC x 28 hours = 140 hours:

  • lectures: 26 hours;

  • assessment: 4 hours;

  • primary literature: 66 hours;

  • secondary literature: 44 hours.

Assessment method

Written examination with short open questions and essay questions:

  • mid term examination: written examination with short open questions concerning the theory of intertextuality and the subjects covered in the first part of the term;

  • final exam: written examination with an essay question regarding a specific case of intertextuality, as well as short open questions concerning the subjects covered in the second half of the course.

The final mark is established by determining the weighted average of the two examinations (50% both).

Both exams can be separately taken at the resit.


Blackboard be used.

Reading list

  • Graham Allan, Intertextuality, Routledge: London 2011 (pbk);

  • Euripides, Medea. Transl, R. Warner. Dover 1993 (pbk.) (or any other translation);

  • Livy, The War with Hannibal. The History of Rome from Its Foundation, Books XXI-XXX, transl. Aubrey De Selincourt, Penguin Classics, London etc. 1965 (and many reprints) (pbk.) (or any other translation);

  • Thomas Mann, Death in Venice and Other Stories, translated and introduced by David Luke, London: Vintage Classics 1998;

  • Thomas Mann, De dood in Venetië en andere verhalen, vertaald door Pé Hawinkels, Amsterdam: Arbeiderspers 2009.

  • Plato, Symposium and Phaedrus, translated by Benjamin Jowett, Dover Thrift Editions 1993;

  • Seneca, Medea, transl. and introd. Frederick Ahl, Ithaca, NY 1986 (pbk.) (or any other translation);

  • an edition of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, preferably: The Arden Shakespeare “The Winter’s Tale.” Edited by John Pitcher. London: A & C Black, 2010;

  • Christa Wolf, Medea, with an introduction by Margaret Atwood, New York 1998 (pbk.);

  • Ovid, Metamorphoses. Transl. Arthur Golding. Ed. with an introd. and notes by Madeleine Forey. Penguin books. 2002 [Or any other translation.]

A more detailed bibliography and the exact passages to be read will be communicated in the class.


Via uSis.
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
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Dhr. Dr. A.M. (Adriaan) Rademaker