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

  • An Evening Class course
  • Tutor: Leslie Primo
  • Times: Thursdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • Duration: 20 weeks
  • Location: Imperial College, South Kensington Campus
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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 Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksInternal rateAssociate rateStandard rate
 40  20 £210*   Standard fee: £230 £280*   Standard fee: £305 £360*   Standard fee: £395
*Early-bird fee valid 1 August - 30 September only | Prices quoted are per one whole two-term course
Term dates 1

 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 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 Friends of Imperial College 
  • 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
  • Local residents (SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8 postcodes only)

Standard rate

  • Applicable to all who do not qualify for the Internal or Associate Rate.

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 are able to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on.

Applicable terms & conditions

Please read the Evening Classes & Lunchtime Learning terms and conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.

Course Programme

Indicative Course Timetable

Week 1 Tue Oct 16th The Greeks, The Gods and Classicism
Week 2 Tue Oct 23rd The Olympians 
Week 3 Tue Oct 30th The Nude
Week 4 Tue Nov 6th NO CLASS
Week 5 Tue Nov 13th The Iconography of Venus, Cupid & Mars 
Week 6 Tue Nov 20th The Renaissance and the Philosophy of Classicism 
Week 7 Tue Nov 27th Hercules and the Twelve Labours 
Week 8 Tue Dec 4th The Fight between the Lapiths and the Centaurs
Week 9 Tue Dec 11th Theseus and the Minotaur - Bacchus & Ariadne 

-------- -------- *** Christmas break **** --------

Week 10 Tue Jan 8th NO CLASS
Week 11 Tue Jan 15th NO CLASS

Sat Jan 19th British Museum | Meeting place is by the Great Court steps at 10:30 

Week 12 Tue Jan 22nd NO CLASS

Thu Jan 24th Prometheus & Pandora

Week 13 Tue Jan 29th Rape: Ganymede, Io, Europa – Leda and the Swan
Week 14 Tue Feb 5th Cupid & Psyche - Diana & Actaeon 
Week 15 Tue Feb 12th Odysseus, Penelope and Her Suitors
Week 16 Tue Feb 19th Perseus & Medusa 
Week 17 Tue Feb 26th Apollo & Daphne - Orpheus & Eurydice 
Week 18 Tue Mar 5th From Renaissance to Baroque 
Week 19 Tue Mar 12th French Painting & Classical Symbolism 
Week 20 Tue Mar 19th Classicism in Britain & Angelica Kauffman
Week 21 Tue Mar 26th The Pre-Raphaelites: Myth & Legend 

Sat Mar 30th National Gallery | Meeting place is by the Getty Entrance, East Wing Atrium, opposite the shop at 10:30 Museum visit 2

This programme may be subject to modification.

Additional Reading and Credit Information

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:

  • Ovid, The Metamorphoses (any edition)
  • Owen Davies, The Penguin Book of Classical Myths (Penguin Books, 2009)
  • Malcolm Bull, The Mirror of the Gods: Classical Mythology in Renaissance Art (Penguin, 2005)

No academic credits are available for this course. An attendance certificate is issued only to those who attend at least 80% of the taught sessions.

About 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 and radio, as well as lecturing 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

Further Study

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.

Any Questions?

Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the course tutor, Leslie Primo at

Please carefully review the course information, programme timetableterm dates and fees & enrolment information.