New Hampshire

Epic Tales: Gilgamesh, Homer’s Odyssey, Arabian Night & More

Join a talented storyteller as you delve into the most epic tales in human history from around the world, and get to know the local history and heritage of the Monadnock region.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23620RJ
6 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Join storyteller and teacher Sebastian Lockwood whose studies in Classics and Anthropology at Boston University and Cambridge University in the UK lay the foundation to bring four epic tales into light: “Gilgamesh,” the oldest written tale in the world from Mesopotamia; Homer’s “The Odyssey,” the Greek epic; “Arabian Nights” from the Middle East; and “Monkey: A Folk-Tale of China.” Discuss contextual topics, like the role of the heavens and trade routes in these classic sagas. Plus, explore picture-perfect places in the Monadnock Region, from covered bridges to one of the best-preserved woolen mill towns.
Activity Level
Easy Going
Walking up to one mile. Getting in and out of vans. Optional morning Tai Chi sessions.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Master Storyteller Sebastian Lockwood sets the stage for four epic tales, taking us from the East to the West in classic literature.
  • Visit the Miraposa Museum and World Cultural Center for a special presentation on timeless folk music, and enjoy a pontoon ride on Swanzey Lake.
  • Hear ancient epic tales from a local storyteller of the local Abenaki people.

General Notes

The Retreat Difference: This unique, often basic and no-frills experience at a Road Scholar Retreat includes opportunities for early morning exercise, interaction with the local community for insight into local life, an authentic farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, a live performance or event, and a value-priced single room.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Sebastian Lockwood
Storyteller and teacher, Sebastian Lockwood tells the great epics: Gilgamesh, Odysseus, Caesar, Beowulf and Monkey. His studies in classics and anthropology at Boston University and Cambridge University in the UK laid the foundation for bringing these great tales into performance. Lockwood's performances are designed to take complex texts and make them accessible and exciting for audiences from 5 to 95. Lockwood has tutored and taught classes in higher education for 25 years. He now concentrates on performance, workshops and studio recording.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image
Sebastian Lockwood
View biography
<%= Bio %>
Profile Image
Michael Harrist
View biography
<%= Bio %>
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Arabian Nights
by Sir Richard Burton
They are ancient stories, but they still enchant our imaginations today. Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Sinbad the Sailor. Aladdin. These and the other Middle Eastern stories collected in Arabian Nights are delightful, fascinating, and fun for fans and first-time readers alike.
The Odyssey: The Fitzgerald Translation
by Homer - Translated by Robert Fitzgerald
Presents the classic poem concerning the wanderings of the hero Odysseus and his miraculous return to Ithaca and a faithful wife.
The Odyssey, with an English translation by A. T. Murray
by Homer
No longer in print, but available for purchase second hand, this is a classic translation of the original text.
The Epic of Gilgamesh
by Andrew George
Miraculously preserved on clay tablets dating back as much as four thousand years, the poem of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, is the world’s oldest epic, predating Homer by many centuries. The story tells of Gilgamesh’s adventures with the wild man Enkidu, and of his arduous journey to the ends of the earth in quest of the Babylonian Noah and the secret of immortality. Alongside its themes of family, friendship and the duties of kings, the Epic of Gilgamesh is, above all, about mankind’s eternal struggle with the fear of death. The Babylonian version has been known for over a century, but linguists are still deciphering new fragments in Akkadian and Sumerian. Andrew George’s gripping translation brilliantly combines these into a fluent narrative and will long rank as the definitive English Gilgamesh.
Monkey: Folk Novel of China
by Wu Ch'êng-ên
Probably the most popular book in the history of the Far East, this classic sixteenth century novel is a combination of picaresque novel and folk epic that mixes satire, allegory, and history into a rollicking adventure. It is the story of the roguish Monkey and his encounters with major and minor spirits, gods, demigods, demons, ogres, monsters, and fairies. This translation, by the distinguished scholar Arthur Waley, is the first accurate English version; it makes available to the Western reader a faithful reproduction of the spirit and meaning of the original.
by Sebastian Lockwood and Francelia Clark
This single inherited epic in our language has it all: drama, blood, heroism, mourning, and teaching with soul-searching thought about all this. It looks back. In its top layer of listening, we are brought along with heroic figures, even with a superhero, to challenge agonizing monsters. This world also includes beautiful sea voyages, crafty disputes, the falling of tribes, and moving elegies. Most often its Old English poetry can translate directly into fresh pictures. The epic Beowulf is a masterfully told story. Beowulf also steadily gives insight on its listening audience during a momentous time of transitions, in England between the eighth and eleventh century. The courts of Beowulf teem with signs of deadly intrigues to come, hubris, cowardice, the betrayal of good leaders. Pagan Wyrd and Christian God are both at work here. In early Christian England, the people, including monastics, still loved to tell and hear those ancient oral heroic-–and pagan---teaching-stories. This epic is unique in that it bridges the ethical gap.

Click here to provide website feedback
Website Feedback