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Stanford research scholar Adrienne Mayor’s research seeks new ways of looking at mythology to discover intriguing scientific and historical realities embedded in ancient tales long assumed to be nothing more than fantasies woven by storytellers.
This course combines ancient myth, art, literature, history, paleontology, technology, and archaeology in four classes.
We will uncover the natural origins of stories about dragons, griffins, and other fantastic animals in Europe and Asia; ponder whether the Amazon horsewomen-archers of myth might really have existed; consider the practical and ethical dilemmas of using poison weapons in myth and ancient historical times; and marvel at robots and other science fiction tales from the time of Homer.
The first session, “Dragons and Dinosaurs,” investigates how some fabulous creatures of myth might have arisen from misunderstood evidence observed in nature, such as fossils.
Next, “Amazons: Warrior Women in Myth, Art, and Archaeology,” presents literary, artistic, and archaeological evidence for the accurate insights and real facts behind myths about the warlike women known as Amazons.
The third session, “Biological and Chemical Warfare in Myth and History,” uncovers the surprisingly ancient roots of toxic tactics and poison weapons.
Finally, the session “Gods and Robots: Imagining Artificial Life in Antiquity” traces the earliest inklings of the concepts of automatons, self-moving devices, human enhancements, and even Artificial Intelligence.
Programs taking place online:An access link will be emailed to you after purchase.
Programs taking place in our NYC facilities:Please read our safety guidelines before visiting our building.
Programs taking place online and in our NYC facilities:Please select which experience you wish to participate in when registering. Online participants will be emailed an access link after purchase. In-person participants should read our safety guidelines before attending the program.
Adrienne Mayor, research scholar in Classics and the History and Philosophy of Science at Stanford University, is the author of, most recently, Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology. Her other books include The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World; The First Fossil Hunters: Dinosaurs, Mammoths and Myths in Greek and Roman Times; Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World; and The Poison King: Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy (a National Book Award finalist).
Adrienne Mayor: From Ancient Myth to Science and History