Have a panoramic scope of the cultures, societies, languages and belief systems of a wide variety of people
Develop a personal and critical approach to understanding the beliefs of cultures
This course takes a journey through the world of beliefs as they have developed in a great variety of cultures, ranging from Ancient Egypt, the Near East to Central Asia, India, China, and the Far East. We will discuss where these beliefs, theories and practices originated from, how they were passed on over the ages and why some are still so central to large communities of believers across the world today, whether it be amongst Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists or Shintoists.
We’ll be dealing with everything from gods and spirits, to angels and demons, to afterlife and the netherworld, as well as the great cycles of the universe and the tremendous power of lunar and solar eclipses. The interpretation of dreams and all sorts of magic and miraculous deeds will also be covered during this course.
Students will have the opportunity to travel extensively in time and space. The comparative, critical and contextualized approach of this course will allow for a valuable and thought-provoking experience.
We are a course team of about twenty-five specialists working at, or in close interaction with, the Department of Greek, Latin and Oriental Studies (GLOR) at the University of Louvain. We are all historians or philologists, all passionate about our respective fields of expertise, and all fully determined to help you as much as we can as we progress through this course. Most of all, we’re looking forward to “meeting” you and to having lively discussions with you on the forums.
If you’re curious about the cultures of this world, past and present, this course is definitely for you. Put your wings on and get ready to ride on our “GLOR-ious” dragon and to enjoy the whole adventure with us!
Week 1: Overall presentation
Modalities of course
Week 2: Gods and Spirits
Nature in Japanese Daily Life
The Power of Chinese Hybrids
The Gods in Buddhism
Egyptian Gods, Cult Centres and the Cosmogony of Heliopolis
Week 3: Angels and Demons
Angels in the Hebrew Bible
Angels in Islam
Demons in Ancient Mesopotamia
Fighting the Demons in Egypt: from Texts to Religious Practices
Week 4: Netherworld and Afterlife
Concepts of Afterlife in Ancient Egypt
The Netherworld in Ancient Mesopotamia
The Netherworld in Ancient Anatolia and Iran
Underworld and Afterlife in Ancient Greek Epics 1: Tartarus/Erebus
Underworld and Afterlife in Ancient Greek Epics 2: Hades
Buddha, the Man Who Refuses to Talk About the Afterlife • Ancestor Worship in China
Week 5: Astrology and Heavenly Cycles
Eclipses: Beliefs and Theories in the Ancient World 1 - Superstitions
Eclipses: Beliefs and Theories in the Ancient World 2 - Theories
On World Cycles 1: The Great Year Doctrine in Antiquity
On World Cycles 2: The Great Year Doctrine in the Middle Ages
Arab Astrology in the Medieval Latin West
Astrology and Love in Romance Literatures
Week 6: Magic, Dreams and Miracles
The Miraculous Portrait of Jesus
The Science of the Letters
Alchemy throughout the Ages
The Varieties of Magic in Islam
Dreams and Meditation in Tibet
Forbidden Directions in Japan
Week 7: A Case Study
The Miracle of the Moving Muqattam Image
Week 8: Summing up
No prerequisite in particular, but a strong curiosity and interest in foreign cultures is definitely a must.