Barker, Wright - 1864-1941

Discover some of the most enduring tales of love, passion and revenge ever told, and their influence on some of the world's greatest art

At a Glance

  • Classroom course
  • 2 hours a week
  • Tuesdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 20 weeks: October to March
  • Tutor: Leslie Primo
  • Fees from £230 to £420
  • Imperial College attendance certificate (T&Cs apply)
Booking link

The myths of the ancient Greeks and Romans are some of the most exciting stories ever told. From Theseus outwitting the Minotaur to Odysseus escaping the one-eyed cyclops, and the innumerable stories of love involving the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, as well as an array of over-the-top superheroes, these tales are the foundation stone on which Western civilization was built. Because of that it is no surprise to learn they have been loved by artists from the moment they were first told until the present day. And because of this we can use visual art to learn these ancient stories and at the same time expand our appreciation and enjoyment of some of the greatest paintings and sculptures ever made.

No previous knowledge of history, art, ancient culture or mythology is necesssary to join this online course.

Attendance certificate

Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.

Course Information

Course Programme

AUTUMN TERM (10 weeks from 12 October 2021)

  • Session 1 - The Greeks, The Gods and Classicism 
  • Session 2 - The Olympians 
  • Session 3 - The Nude
  • Session 4 - The Iconography of Venus, Cupid & Mars 
  • Session 5 - The Renaissance & Philosophy of Classicism
  • Session 6 - Hercules and the Twelve Labours 
  • Session 7 - Fight between the Lapiths and the Centaurs
  • Session 8 - Theseus and the Minotaur - Bacchus & Ariadne
  • Session 9 - Prometheus & Pandora
  • Session 10 - Rape: Ganymede, Io, Europa – Leda & the Swan


SPRING TERM (10 weeks from 18 January 2022)

  • Session 11 - Odysseus, Penelope and Her Suitors
  • Session 12 - Apollo & Daphne - Orpheus & Eurydice
  • Session 13 - Perseus & Medusa
  • Session 14 - French Painting & Classical Symbolism
  • Session 15 - Raphael and the Antique
  • Session 16 - Michelangelo and the Antique)
  • Session 17 - From Renaissance to Baroque
  • Session 18 - Classicism in Britain & Angelica Kauffman
  • Session 19 - Cupid & Psyche - Diana & Actaeon
  • Session 20 - The Pre-Raphaelites: Myth & Legend

This programme may be subject to modification

Additional Reading

There is no compulsory reading required for this course, and there is no set course text, but if you would like to read more on the subject we suggest:

  • Barkan, Leonard, The Gods Made Flesh: Metamorphosis and the Pursuit of Paganism (Yale University Press, Newhaven and London, 1986)
  • Bull, Malcolm, The Mirror of the Gods: Classical Mythology in Renaissance Art, (Penguin Books, 2006)
  • Bullfinch, Thomas, The Golden Age of Myth and Legend, (Wordsworth, 1993)
  • Boccaccio, Giovanni, The Genealogy of the Pagan Gods: Vulcan, book 12, (Kingston-upon-Thames Locks Press, London, 1999)
  • Carpenter, Thomas H., Art and Myth in Ancient Greece: a handbook, (Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1998)
  • Damisch, Hubert, The Judgment of Paris, (University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1996)
  • Freedman, Luba, The Revival of the Olympian Gods in Renaissance Art, (Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom, 2003)
  • Graves, Robert, The Greek Myths, (Penguin Books, 1990) Vols. I & II
  • Graves, Robert, (translation), The Golden Ass by Apuleius, (Penguin Books, 1950)
  • Healy, Fiona, Rubens and the Judgement of Paris: A Question of Choice, (Brepols, Belgium, 1997)
  • Innes, Mary, (translation), The Metamorphoses of Ovid, (Penguin Books, 1955)
  • Timothy, Gantz, Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, Vol: 1 & 2 (John Hopkins University Press, 1993)
  • Reference Dictionary, Hall’s Dictionary of Subjects & Symbols in Art, (John Murray/Cambridge University Press, 1996)
  • Reference Dictionary, Hall’s Dictionary of Symbols in Eastern and Western Art, (John Murray/Cambridge University Press, 1997)
  • Seznec, Jean, The Survival of the Pagan Gods: The Mythological Tradition and its Place in Renaissance Humanism and Art, (Princeton University Press, Mythos series, New Jersey, 1995)

Your Tutor

Photograph of Leslie Primo

 Your tutor for this course will be Leslie Primo. Leslie is a highly experienced and well-known art historian who has appeared on television & radio and who has also lectured at organisations including the National Gallery in London and Wallace Collection.

You can read more about your tutor at: Leslie Primo's website

Twitter: artfirstprimo     

Blog: artfirstprimo

Course Delivery: Classroom Taught Courses

Courses delivered in-person in a classroom

All courses lasting two hours have a 10-minute break in the middle. For one hour courses there is no break.

Covid-19 and Safe Distancing for Classroom-based Courses

Please be aware of covid-19 safe-distancing requirements and adhere to them. We ask if possible that participants on this course take a home swab test (lateral flow test) before joining each session of the class. Swab tests can be ordered free of charge prior to the start of the course from or obtained free of charge from many pharmacists.

In the event of the government or Public Health England requiring further lockdown measures the class will transfer online and any remaining sessions will be taught entirely online.

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 40  20  £420    (Early Bird Rate: £380*)
£250    (Early Bird Rate: £230*) £330    (Early Bird Rate: £300*) 
* The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before the end of 30 September for courses starting in October only  |   All fee rates quoted are for the whole 2-term course.

Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • Current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors)
  • Individuals enrolling under our Friends & Family scheme
  • Staff of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should contact before completing the online enrolment form

Associate Rate

  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • Friends and Patrons of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Members of the Kennel Club
  • Members of the London Zoological Society
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • National Health Service (NHS) employees
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Teachers and other staff of UK schools
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

Applicable terms & conditions

Please read the Terms and Conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer School
 40  20 11 Oct - 18 Dec 2021 (10 weeks)*  PLUS 17 Jan - 26 Mar 2022 (10 weeks) n/a n/a
* Followed by the Christmas break

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 2nd August 2021

Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
  • First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
  • The booking process involves entering payment details after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
  • The following email notifications are sent:
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • This is a receipt for your payment and includes payment date, order number and course title
  • Confirmation of your place on your chosen course will follow later
2. Enrolment confirmation Is sent within 10 working daysPlease treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Re-confirms your course choice
  • Shows your course's term dates
  • Confirms the day and time of your course
3. Programme information Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains joining instructions for your course, incl. tutor contact details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Any Questions?

  • Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the tutor, Mr Leslie Primo at
  • Questions about your enrolment and payment should be sent to the Programme Administrator,

If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.