Venus and Mars, a painting by Botticelli

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

Information at a Glance

  • Evening Class
  • Tuesdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 20 weeks: October to March
  • 2 hours taught time per week
  • Tutor: Leslie Primo
  • Fees from £210 to £395
  • Location: Imperial College, South Kensington Campus
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.

This course will comprise eighteen evening sessions held in the classroom at Imperial College, South Kensington. During the course students will also have the opportunity to attend two Saturday half-day session at a major museum in London, to discuss with their tutor the use of mythology in works of art, using of actual art objects.

The course comprises 18 classroom sessions at Imperial College and two Saturday late morning visits to a major London art museum in the company of the tutor.

No previous knowledge of history, art, ancient culture or mythology is necesssary to join the class.

Course Information

Course Programme

Indicative course timetable

  • 1: Tues, Oct 15th (The Greeks, The Gods and Classicism) Classroom session 1
  • 2: Tues, Oct 22nd (The Olympians) Classroom session 2
  • 3: Tues, Oct 29th (The Nude) Classroom session 3
  • 4: Tues, Nov 5th (The Iconography of Venus, Cupid & Mars) Classroom session 4
  • 5: Tues, Nov 12th (The Renaissance & Philosophy of Classicism) Classroom session 5
  • 6: Tues, Nov 19th (Hercules and the Twelve Labours) Classroom session 6
  • 7: Tues, Nov 26th (Fight between the Lapiths and the Centaurs) Classroom session 7
  • 8: Tues, Dec 3th (Theseus and the Minotaur - Bacchus & Ariadne) Classroom session 8
  • 9: Tues Dec 10th (NO CLASS TODAY)
  • 10: Thur, Dec 12th (Prometheus & Pandora) Classroom session 9

*** CHRISTMAS BREAK ***

  •  11: Tues, Jan 7th and 14th (NO CLASS)
  •  12: Sat, Jan 18th (British Museum - 10:30-12:30) meet by the steps in the Great Court
  •  13: Tues, Jan 21st (Rape: Ganymede, Io, Europa – Leda & the Swan) Classroom session 10
  •  14: Tues, Jan 28th (Odysseus, Penelope and Her Suitors) Classroom session 11
  •  15: Tues, Feb 4th (Apollo & Daphne - Orpheus & Eurydice) Classroom session 12
  •  16: Tues, Feb 11th (Perseus & Medusa) Classroom session 13
  •  17: Tues, Feb 18th (French Painting & Classical Symbolism) Classroom session 14
  •  18: Tues, Feb 25th (From Renaissance to Baroque) Classroom session 15
  •  19: Tues, Mar 3rd (Classicism in Britain & Angelica Kauffman) Classroom session 16
  •  20: Tues, Mar 10th (Cupid & Psyche - Diana & Actaeon) Classroom session 17
  •  21: Tues, Mar 17th (The Pre-Raphaelites: Myth & Legend) Classroom session 18
  •  22: Sat, Mar 21st (National Gallery - 10:30-12:30) meet in Getty Entrance, East Wing - Atrium, on sofas, opposite the shop

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 Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 40  20  £395    (Early Bird Rate: £360*) £230    (Early Bird Rate: £210*)
£305    (Early Bird Rate: £280*) 
* The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before 30 September for courses starting in October   |   All fee rates quoted are for the whole course.
Term dates 1

Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

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

Internal Rate

  • Applies to 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).
  • 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 email evening eveningclass@imperial.ac.uk before completing the online enrolment form.

Associate Rate

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

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started, subject entirely to agreement by the tutor delivering the course. 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 Evening Classes & Lunchtime Learning terms and conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer term
 40  20 14 Oct - 12 Dec 2019 (9 weeks)* 6 Jan - 19 Mar 2020 (11 weeks) n/a
* Followed by the Christmas break

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 1 August

Enrolment & payment are through the Imperial College eStore. Please use above booking link noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on this page and your applicable 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 before your course choice and applicant details are queried on an in-built questionnnaire which completes the process
  • The following email notifications will be sent
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • Confirms your payment, date of payment and order number
  • Should not be treated as a course-enrolment receipt and therefore does not show your course however these details are sent to us via the system
2. Enrolment confirmation Sent in due course but likely not before the end of September. Please treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Confirms your course choice
  • Shows the programme your course is part of as well as the term dates
  • Confirms your course' day of the week & time
3. Programme information Usually sent Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains further course details incl. classroom location and teacher contact information
  • Provides further general programme details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Certificate of Attendance

Although no credits are offered for this very part-time course, an attendance certificate is presented to students who attend at least 80% (16) of the taught classroom sessions. Eligible students receive their certificate by email after the end of the course.

Any Questions?

Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the course tutor, Leslie Primo at artfirstprimo@gmail.com

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.