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MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Exploring Classical Art at the MFA: Homer’s Iliad & Odyssey

Explore the MFA’s extensive collection of classical art to learn about the portrayals of the gods, kings and heroes in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Discover how myth was utilized by classical artists and what the intersection of myth and art can tell us about ancient society.


Learning Goals:

Students will learn:

- About the Homeric epics and myths surrounding the Trojan War, focusing on the central events in the Iliad and Odyssey.

- To recognize the features, attributes, and symbols that identify mythological characters, including gods and goddesses, heroes, and kings.

- About the social values and beliefs of the ancient Greeks and Romans as shown in various pieces of art.

- To look closely and make visual observations about art, supporting their ideas by grounding them in a work of art.


Using this Resource:

• History and Social Studies teachers and students will be interested in the way artworks depict the culture, tastes and beliefs of the ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as the connections between them.

• Art teachers and students will be interested in the different materials, artistic methods and narrative techniques employed by artists to visually depict myths and the birth of new styles in classical art, particularly in ceramics.

• English Language Arts teachers and students will be interested in exploring visual depictions of the Iliad and Odyssey, comparing them to the Homer’s texts and using the images as prompts for creative writing.


The objects in this tour are just a beginning. To learn more about classical mythology in the art of Greece and Rome, we suggest the “Classical Mythology in Greek and Roman Art - Gods, Goddesses and Heroes” lesson. We encourage you to explore the Museum’s online collection through this web resource—or even better, to visit the Museum and walk through the physical galleries—to look for other objects that will provide further insights into the history of ancient Greece and Rome.

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