Freud and the Ancient World

In-house evening course, with Professor Daniel Orrells

Loading Events
  • This event has passed.

11 May, 2022, 7:00 pm - 18 May, 2022, 7:00 pm

£40 – £80

Book Now

Everyone has heard of the Oedipus complex. Freud’s ideas have left a profound impression on the modern cultural imagination.

But where did Freud’s Oedipus come from? And how did he come up with the phallic mother? How did Freud invent a new way of reading literature and art? And what intellectual history made Freud’s psychoanalysis of religion and civilisation possible? Just as Freud exhorted us to search out the origins of our desires and identities – to become a modern Oedipus – so this series of public classes excavates the origins of Freud’s ideas. We will learn that there would have been no psychoanalysis without Freud’s obsession with the ancient world.

This course will examine the importance of ancient ideas about desire and pleasure for Freud’s understanding of gender and sexuality. We will consider the significance of ancient texts for Freud’s discussions of literature and art. And we will look at how Freud’s discussions of civilisation and religion emerged out of his interest in the ancient world. When Freud formulated the contours of the modern individual in modern society, he could not help but look back to antiquity to understand who we are.

Daniel Orrells is Professor of Classics at King’s College London. His research examines the presence of classical antiquity in modern cultural, literary and intellectual history. His most recent book Sex: Antiquity and its Legacy offers a fresh, new narrative about the importance of the ancient world for the development of sexology and psychoanalysis. His forthcoming book Antiquity in Print in the Eighteenth Century explores the spectacular illustrations of classical art and archaeology during the Enlightenment.

Tea and coffee will be provided during breaks.

A limited number of bursary tickets are available. Please contact Sarah Isherwood [email protected].

This course is scheduled to take place in person, at the Museum on the evenings of Wednesday 11 and 18 May 2022, 7-9pm.

Please note: if necessary this may be moved online. Notice will be given at least 2-weeks prior to the start date.


11 May, 2022, 7:00 pm
18 May, 2022, 7:00 pm
£40 – £80
Event Category:


Freud Museum London
20 Maresfield Gardens
London, NW3 5SX United Kingdom
020 7435 2002

« All Events