Or, as it really should have been titled, ‘the one which nearly finished me off’. To say that life during this module was both the best of times and the worst of times isn’t really an exaggeration. I reached my lowest ever point whilst studying this module and it nearly ended my relationship with the OU because I just didn’t have any energy/enthusiasm/zest for life left in me to carry on with my studies. It was a great module, but I reached burnout. The past few years of studying had caught up with me and my rapidly diminishing braincells nearly gave up the ghost, but thanks to my wonderful tutor, they managed to clang together well enough to produce a substantial final essay (EMA), which more than got me through to the next round.
Substitute a cup of coffee for the can of Red Bull and this was me pretty much throughout the whole of the module:
But before I get ahead of myself, let’s go back to the beginning.
The module started on 4th October 2014, had 5 TMAs and an EMA at the end. For those not in the know an EMA is an End of Module Assessment, of (in this case) 3,000 words. Which doesn’t sound a lot to me now, but I remember, back in the early days of my travels with the OU, when 500 words seemed like 499 words too many. But I was back immersing myself very happily in the Greek and Roman worlds and although this module was more focused on literature, which I’d discovered wasn’t a strong point of mine after A219, I was happy to give it a go. Click here for my review of A219.
It was split into four blocks:
Block 1) The myth of Hippolytus and Phaedra
This block’s basic theme was how stories of gods and heroes were given fixed forms by different types of art – literary and visual – and by ritual. We focused on the representation of Euripides’ myth of Hippolytus and Phaedra, in various forms, from Athens in the fifth century BCE to the early Byzantine world of the sixth century CE. And I loved it. I was studying (and writing about) the Greek gods, all of whom I’d come to know and love since I was a teenager. Lovely stuff 🙂
Block 2) Myth in Rome: power, life and afterlife
Ah Rome. Here we were back in the eternal city, but this time we started with the Roman foundation myths themselves and how myth was related to the history of the city and how it was used by the Roman emperors. Different myths and characters were brought in to show how it featured in the lives and afterlife beliefs of Rome’s inhabitants.
Nero and Augustus featured large in this block which was great for me as Augustus had always been one of my favourite emperors. I actually came across one of the statues of him (which had particularly stuck in my memory from A330) in the Vatican Museum when Mike and I went to Rome a few months after this module finished. It was the marble statue of Augustus found in 1863 on the Via Flaminia in Rome and it was just chilling in a little side area. We found it after the excessive display of the Church’s wealth in the Vatican had gotten a little too much for us and we’d decided to leave through a different exit to the one everyone was being herded towards. It was lucky we did go off the beaten track (divine intervention anyone? 😉) and it must have been meant to be, as we came upon him almost hidden behind a screen and there he was in all his glory just for me:
In all, this was a great block as I loved learning about the foundation myths but in particular the afterlife myths. The myth of Persephone, Demeter and Hades has always been one of my favourites so it was great to delve a little deeper into the Roman perspectives on the afterlife. And any block which manages to get a mention in of one of my all-time favourite films, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, in reference to the Sabine Women, gets my vote!
Block 3) Ovid and the reception of myth
So onto Ovid. Now it’s been my experience that you either love him or loathe him. A bit like Marmite really. I love Marmite, but I didn’t love Ovid. Neither did I loathe him to be fair, so I suppose I was quite ambivalent towards him. In Metamorphoses I didn’t like the stories of the abduction of, and subsequent shall we say….unpleasantness which occurred towards the various females, by that “pesky” Zeus/Jupiter (as he is often fondly referred to) and others. Not so pesky really. Quite dark and disconcerting really. I was glad when this block was over.
Block 4) Myth and reason in classical Greece
In this block I discovered that I have a love of philosophy. Who’d have guessed? OK love may be a bit strong, but certainly I really enjoyed studying this block. The studying and learning part, not the essay writing part, I’ll get onto that soul destroying bit shortly. The block took us back to the Greek world of the Archaic and Classical period (eighth to fourth centuries BCE) and covered the origins of science and philosophy, myths of the afterlife and introduced us to Plato amongst others.
A little aside here and the high point on this module which had absolutely nothing to do with the OU, but I found myself a new study buddy, in the shape of this gorgeous little fella, my pal Sheldon.
He came into our lives in March 2014 and stole our hearts (closely followed in June 2015 by his beautiful sister Missy). He helped me on this module by listening to my rants about life, the universe and everything and took me on walks to calm me down when I’d reached breaking point on the final essay, the EMA.
The image at the top of the post is him nowadays, all white, but back then he was tan and white. He’s just beautiful and gorgeous and one of the best things to come into all of our lives.
So he saved my sanity on many an occasion during this module. Thank you my gorgeous boy 😘😘😘
So that’s the blocks covered and the high point. Now to the low…..
April 2015 arrived and I just couldn’t do it any more. Study that is. It wasn’t a case of thinking that I couldn’t do it, I knew I could do it…..I just didn’t want to. I loved the section on philosophy, loved the tutorial on it, but had no energy or enthusiasm left to devote one more second to it. I remember it was a Sunday evening in April, two months before the end of the module. TMA05 was due, which would have been the last TMA before the final EMA and I had nothing left to give. Nothing. Mike was away and I was sat in the kitchen rewriting the little bits I’d managed to get down and I thought to myself, that’s it. I’m done with my degree. It’s over. I just sat there and wondered why the hell I was putting myself through such misery and tried to weigh up the pros and the cons. Yes, I was only one module away from the end of my degree. Yes, I’d been through such a lot already that it would be a shame to give all that away. No, I wouldn’t regret it if I gave it up. So why put myself through all the angst? Why indeed.
And of course this was the time that the OU chose to heavily market their new campaign on the radio, which coincided with me starting to listen to commercial radio with its dreadful adverts and all I heard over and over and over again was Helen McCrory’s voice stating at the end of the OU’s ad:
The most important thing you’ll learn at The Open University is what you’re capable of.
Seriously?? I tell you if I’d had a hammer I would have smashed the radio to bits, that’s what I was capable of. And not just the radio. It was not a good time to be in this household, I can tell you.
So I admitted defeat, decided I was going to quit and emailed my tutor with my decision, fully prepared to ring the OU the next morning and tell them I was leaving. And oh my god it felt such a relief to send the email saying I’d decided to quit. No more essay writing, no more studying, yay!! The stress and pressure suddenly literally lifted off my shoulders and I felt lighter than I had done in ages. Until I received her reply a short while later.
Her reply was the turning point for me. And I will be eternally grateful to her for it. Looking back at key events in life, there’s always a point on which everything pivots and this was the turning point for me. In short, she suggested I reconsider, but it wasn’t so much what she said, just that her reply did make me reconsider and I (very) begrudgingly decided to grit my teeth and get on with it. If she’d just accepted that I was wanting to give up, then I’d have had so many regrets that I didn’t finish it, that I’m certain of. Thank you JP. For your belief in me and your support. Without it I wouldn’t have gone on to get a First and to be about to start an MA.
With much bah humbuging and ranting to Sheldon I managed to submit the final TMA, got a pass 2 (woo hoo!!) and then got on with the EMA. This was the question:
The primary function of ancient myth was to provide moral paradigms. Do you agree with this statement?
Answer with reference to between four and six primary sources.
Of course fighting the temptation to simply answer ‘no I don’t agree’ was difficult and to be fair they did want another 2,996 words and so armed with my four primary sources (the absolutely least required), I knuckled down, got on with it and on 28th May 2015, with one hour to spare, I submitted it. That actually sounds very simplistic, but believe me there was much angst, wailing and effing and jeffing before it went off into the OU ether. After submitting it I made myself a promise that I was NEVER EVER AGAIN doing an EMA.
Of course the first indication the results had been posted, in early July, came via the Facebook forum, so with my heart in my mouth I logged onto the OU’s portal and there it was…..Grade 2 pass!!!! Hoooooooray!!! Oh the relief, the sheer utter relief. The inevitable flood of tears came next as this meant I now was on for a 2:1 if I could keep up the same standard on my next module. By the way, if you’re interested in studying A330, it’s still available for study, just click here and you’ll be taken to the Open University’s page.
I hadn’t quite decided on my next module yet, but it was most probably going to be A340 The Roman empire. Throughout the later years of my studies it was seeming like all roads were leading to Rome which they finally did in reality when Mike and I went to Rome in October 2015.