Senior Fellows program sponsors lecture on Greek mythology and ancient tales


Amy Zhang

Philosophy and Classics professor Paul Woodruff speaks to a group of communication students about ancient tales on Thursday morning. The lecture, sponsored by Senior Fellows, gave students an opportunity to gain additional insight on Greek mythology outside of class.

Tatiana Marceleno

A philosophy and classics professor drew connections between Ancient Greek myths and some common dilemmas of modern life during a lecture Thursday.

In the presentation, Paul Woodruff examined two Greek myths and their relevance to issues of fairness and leadership in modern times.

“Through myth we are able to explore and reflect on our lives and the human sphere in ways that I think we would miss if we had to do it without myth,” Woodruff said.

One of the stories Woodruff told was the Greek myth of Ajax, a great hero of the Trojan War, who was compared to Odysseus, a cunning and great communicator. Despite his heroic actions, Ajax was overlooked and Odysseus was highly favored by all for his communication skills.

“These enormous figures from myth are very easy for us to connect to because so many of us find ourselves in positions like that, being taken for granted or getting rewards that other people who are working very hard are not getting,” Woodruff said.

The lecture provided insight to students who attended by incorporating subjects that are generally only taught in the Classics and English departments. Public relations junior Cara Greenstein said she felt lucky to have the opportunity to attend the lecture and hear about topics outside of the “media-filled” world.

“I enjoyed Professor Woodruff’s ability to resurface the value of storytelling, a topic that seems almost done in our age of new media and communication,” Greenstein said. “His stories and personal insights were very captivating to our student and faculty audience.”

The lecture was titled, “Myth as Mirror: The Abiding Power of Ancient Tales,” and was sponsored by Senior Fellows, an honors program of the College of Communication. 

Senior Fellows program director Dave Junker said he wants to increase the program’s boundaries by continuing to bring in people from outside of the college to speak to students and help them better understand their own methods of inquiry.

“Sometimes we forget how relevant what they’re talking about over in the English department or in the classics department is to what we’re studying in communication,” Junker said. “So I think it’s a wonderful experience for our students to be able to see connections and we create that opportunity in Senior Fellows.” 

Published on February 8, 2013 as "Lecture connects myths, present".