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Papers 5-6: Greek and Latin Literature

If you are in your first year of study and want to find out about the epic modules, this page DOES NOT apply to you. Please look under "Part 1A Courses in Easter Term" instead.

 

Aims and objectives

  1. To introduce samples of the variety and scope of pagan Greek and Latin literature and their importance to the Western literary tradition.
  2. To place that literature in a historical and cultural context, in accordance with the general aims and scope of the Part I course.
  3. To introduce the variety of critical approaches possible in the study of classical literature and current trends in criticism.
  4. To develop the practice of literary and textual interpretation at the level of detail through ‘close reading’ in Greek and Latin.

 

Overview

The literature papers in Part IB are designed to offer you a wide choice of topics representing texts from across the field of pagan Greek and Latin literature. Within this spread, however, we regard it as very important that during the Part IB years everyone should study authors who have always been regarded as central to any engagement with the literature of Greece and Rome; this is the reason why, in the first year, there is a much more narrowly defined syllabus of Target texts – Homer, tragedy, oratory, Cicero, Virgil, Ovid etc. The topics studied in the second year focus largely on texts in these same areas, but also afford the opportunity to range more widely outside the traditional canon.

In each of Papers 5 and 6 two topics from a choice of four are selected for study and examination; this is in addition to the compulsory epic module in each language, taught in the Easter Term immediately after the Part 1A examinations. Each topic includes two groups of texts labelled Schedule A and Schedule B. The three sections of Schedule A constitute the ‘core’ texts of that topic, while the texts in Schedule B offer scope for further exploration. The topics are designed to have a unity either of genre (e.g. Paper 5 Topic 3 ‘The Greek novel’), or of period (Paper 6 Topic 1 ‘Writing Nero’), or of theme (e.g. Paper 5 Topic 4 ‘Persians’).

Non-intensive-language candidates for either Paper 5 or Paper 6 will be required to have read both texts in the Schedule A of a topic studied for examination. Intensive-language candidates for either Paper 5 or 6 have a reduced schedule that is noted in the prescriptions below.

 

Reading lists

Reading lists for Papers 5–6 lecture courses are distributed by the lecturers themselves and some may be available on the Faculty's Moodle site.

The teaching and examining for Papers 5 and 6 will be organised around the following schedules of texts:

 

Paper 5. Greek Literature

Compulsory Epic Module

Schedule A: Homer, Iliad 1, 6, 9, 22, 24 (the remainder of the Iliad, and the Odyssey, to be read in translation).

IG: Homer, Iliad 1, 6, 24 (the remainder of the Iliad, and the Odyssey, to be read in translation).

Schedule B: Hesiod, Theogony, Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, fragments of archaic epic (in M.L. West ed., Greek Epic Fragments from the Seventh to the Fifth Centuries BC (Cambridge MA, 2003).

Prescribed edition for the Iliad: D.B. Monro and T.W. Allen (edd.), Homeri Opera (Oxford Classical Text), vols. I (Iliad 1-12) and II (Iliad 13-24), 3rd ed., Oxford 1920.

 

Topic 1 Greek Lyric

Schedule A:  Alcaeus; Sappho; Ibycus; Anacreon; Simonides (these texts as in Budelmann); Sappho's 'Brothers Poem' (as in handout on Moodle); Archilochus; Hipponax; Solon; Theognis; Tyrtaeus; Mimnermus; Xenophanes; Callinus (these texts as in Allan); Bacchylides 5 (as in Cairns, scanned to Moodle); Pindar Olympian 1 (as in Race);

IG: Sappho; Anacreon (these texts as in Budelmann); Sappho's 'Brothers Poem' (as in handout on Moodle); Archilochus; Hipponax; Solon; Theognis; Tyrtaeus (these texts as in Allan); Bacchylides 5 (as in Cairns, scanned to Moodle);

Schedule B: Alcman 1; Sappho 94, 96, 98a-b; Alcaeus 38a, 69, 70, 298; Simonides ‘Plataea Elegy’; Bacchylides 1, 3, 17; Pindar Olympian 2; Pythian 1; Isthmian 2; Paean 6.

Prescribed editions: F. Budelmann Greek Lyric: A Selection, Cambridge 2018; W. Allan Greek Elegy and Iambus: A Selection, Cambridge, 2019; D. Cairns, Bacchylides: Five Epinician Odes, Cambridge 2010; W.H. Race Pindar, Olympian Odes; Pythian Odes (Loeb Classical Library), Cambridge MA. 1997.

 

Topic 2 Dionysus on Stage

Schedule A: Euripides, Bacchae; Aristophanes, Frogs.

IG: Euripides, Bacchae 1-87, 170-369, 434-518, 660-861, 912-91, 1043-1376; Aristophanes, Frogs 1-335, 686-813, 1006-1413, 1466-1533 (with the rest of the plays in English);

Schedule B: Aeschylus Persians; Euripides, Cyclops, Helen; Sophocles, Ichneutai.

 

Schedule A editions & commentaries

Diggle, J. (ed.) (1994) Euripidis fabulae, Tomus III (Oxford)

Dodds, E.R. (21960) Euripides, Bacchae (Oxford)

Seaford, R.A.S. (1996) Euripides, Bacchae, with an Introduction, translation and commentary (Warminster) [Aris&Phillips]

Wilson, N.G.: Aristophanis fabulae, Tomus II (Oxford)

Dover, K. (1993) Aristophanes, Frogs, edited with introduction and commentary (Oxford) [abriged ed.: Oxford 1997]

Sommerstein, A.H. (1996) Aristophanes, Frogs, edited with translation and notes (Warminster) [Aris&Phillips]

Stanford, W.B. (1958): Aristophanes, Frogs, edited with introduction, revised text, commentary, and index. (London)

 

Schedule B editions & commentaries

Burian, P. (2007) Euripides, Helen (Oxford) [Aris&Phillips]

Hall, E. (1996) Aeschylus, Persians (Warminster) [Aris&Phillips]

Hunter, R. and Laemmle, R. (2020) Euripides, Cyclops (Cambridge)

Kovacs, D. (2002) Euripides, Helen, Phoenician Women, Orestes (Cambridge, MA/London) [Loeb]

Lloyd-Jones, H. (22003) Sophocles, Fragments (Cambridge, MA/London) [The Searchers (= Ichneutai) on pp. 140–77][Loeb]

Seaford, R.A.S. (1984) Euripides Cyclops (Oxford)

O’Sullivan, P. and Collard, C. (2013) Euripides, Cyclops and Major Fragments of Greek Satyric Drama (Oxford) [Aris&Phillips]

Sommerstein, A.H. (2008) Aeschylus, Persians, Seven Against Thebes, Suppliants, Prometheus Bound (Cambridge, MA/Lon­don) [Loeb]

 

Topic 3 The Greek Novel

Schedule A: Achilles Tatius; Leucippe and Clitophon 1; Longus, Daphnis and Chloe 1, 4;

IG: Achilles Tatius; Leucippe and Clitophon 1; Longus, Daphnis and Chloe 1, (4 in English);

Schedule B: remainder of Achilles Tatius; Leucippe and Clitophon (2-8); remainder of Longus, Daphnis and Chloe (2-3); Chariton, Callirhoe.

Prescribed editions: T. Whitmarsh, Achilles Tatius, Leucippe and Clitophon: Books I–II (Cambridge, 2020) and E. Bowie, Longus: Daphnis and Chloe (Cambridge, 2019).

 

Topic 4 Other Peoples: Herodotus and Greek Ethnography

Schedule A: Herodotus 2.1-5; 35-58, 73-91; 4.1-16, 25-50, 59-83; Lucian On the Syrian Goddess 1-38;

IG: Herodotus 2.1-5; 35-58; 4.1-16; 25-50; Lucian On the Syrian Goddess 1-27.

Schedule B: Odyssey 9; Herodotus 2, 4; Hippocrates, Airs, Waters, Places; Arrian, Indika; Lucian, On the Syrian Goddess.

Prescribed editions: N.G. Wilson, Herodoti Historiae, vol. 1 (Oxford Classical Text), 2015; J.L. Lightfoot, Lucian. On the Syrian Goddess: Edited with Introduction, Translation and Commentary, Oxford, 2003; D. Asheri, A. Lloyd, A. Corcella, Herodotus Books I-IV, Oxford, 2007 (historical commentary); E. Hayes, S. Nimis, Lucian. On the Syrian Goddess: An Intermediate Greek Reader: Greek Text with Running Vocabulary and Commentary, Oxford, 2012 (linguistic aid).

 

Paper 6. Latin Literature

Compulsory Epic Module

Schedule A: Catullus 64; Virgil, Aeneid 1 and 4 (the remainder of the Aeneid to be read in translation); Ovid, Metamorphoses 8;

IL: Catullus 64; Virgil, Aeneid 1 (the remainder of the Aeneid to be read in translation); Ovid, Metamorphoses 8.1-546 (the remainder of Metamorphoses 8 to be read in translation);

Schedule B: Ennius, Annals 1-3 (= fragments 1-149 Skutsch), Lucan, De bello ciuili 1, Statius, Thebaid 12.

 

Topic 1 Writing Nero: history and biography in imperial Rome

Schedule A: Tacitus, Annals 14; Suetonius, Life of Nero.

IL: Tacitus, Annals 14.1-13; 29-39, 48-65 (the rest of Book 14 to be read in English); Suetonius, Life of Nero 20-57 (the rest to be read in English).

Schedule B: pseudo-Seneca Octavia; Tacitus, Annals 13; Cassius Dio, Roman History, epitome of book 62.

Prescribed editions: E.C. Woodcock, Tacitus Annals XIV (London 1939, repr. Bristol 1992); B.H. Warmington, Suetonius Nero (2nd ed., Bristol 2013).


Topic 2 Roman Comedy

Schedule A: Plautus, Menaechmi; Terence, Adelphoe

IL: Plautus, Menaechmi, 1-350, 369-570, 604-752, 775-965, 989-1162; Terence, Adelphoe, 1-516, 763-997)

Schedule B: Plautus, Miles Gloriosus; Terence, Eunuchus; Menander, Dyscolus (+ Adelphoe fragments).

 

Topic 3 Roman youth

Schedule A: Statius Achilleid; Apuleius Cupid and Psyche (Met. 4.28-6.24);

IL: Statius Achilleid 1 (2 in English); Apuleius Cupid and Psyche (Met. 4.28-5.31; rest to be read in English);

Schedule B: Catullus 61-3; Ovid Metamorphoses 4.55-166, 4.274-388, 9.666-797; Statius Thebaid 9.570-907; Augustine Confessions 2.

Prescribed editions: O.A.W. Dilke, Statius: Achilleid, Cambridge 1954 (repr. with new introduction by R. Cowan, Bristol 2005), E.J. Kenney, Apuleius: Cupid & Psyche, Cambridge 1990.

 

Topic 4 Latin love elegy

Schedule A: Tibullus 1, Propertius 3;

IL: Tibullus 1.1-6 (7-10 to be read in English); Propertius 3.1-16 (17-25 to be read in English.

Schedule B: Catullus 8, 11, 15, 24, 48, 68, 76, Propertius 1, Ovid Amores 1, [Tibullus] 3.8-20 (the Sulpicia poems).

Prescribed editions: P. Murgatroyd, Tibullus, Elegies 1, Bristol 1991, S.J. Heyworth and J.H. Morwood, A Commentary on Propertius 3, Oxford 2011.

 

Scope and structure of the examination paper 2020–21

Each of Papers 5 and 6 will consist of four sections (A to D); students answer either Sections A and B or Sections C and D. In Paper 5, Sections A-B are for those taking Paper 1 ('Passages for Translation from Greek Authors'), and Sections C-D for those taking Paper 2 ('Alternative Passages for Translation from Greek Authors'). In Paper 6, Sections A-B are for those taking Paper 3 ('Passages for Translation from Latin Authors'), and Sections C-D for those taking Paper 4 ('Alternative Passages for Translation from Latin Authors').

For each paper, students answer three questions, one from Section A or C as appropriate, and two from Section B or D as appropriate. Sections A and C carry questions from the compulsory Epic modules. Sections B and D carry questions from the four optional modules. All questions are equally weighted (i.e. at 33.3%). All questions consist in 'guided essays' (i.e. essay questions attached to passages for discussion).

Each question will contain an element of choice, but there will be no fixed pattern for that choice. All questions will include at least one passage from a Schedule A text. To prepare for this examination, students must study all of their texts in the original language. Guidelines for guided essays can be found here.

 

Paper 5. Greek literature (also serves as Paper 9A of Part I of the English Tripos and GL 15 of the Modern and Medieval Languages Tripos)

The paper will be of three hours’ duration. Candidates for the Classical Tripos offering Paper 1, and candidates for the MML Tripos offering Paper GL11, must answer Section A (a choice of one out of two Epic questions), and Section B (a choice of two out of four questions from the optional modules). Candidates for the Classical Tripos offering Paper 2, and candidates for the MML Tripos offering Paper GL12, must answer Section C (a choice of one out of two Epic questions), and Section D (a choice of two out of four questions from the optional modules). All questions will be of the ‘guided essay’ type (consisting of an essay question to be answered with reference to the appended passage(s)); and all three questions answered by candidates will carry equal weight.

 

Paper 6. Latin literature (also serves as Paper 9B of Part I of the English Tripos and GL 16 of the Modern and Medieval Languages Tripos)

The paper will be of three hours’ duration. Candidates for the Classical Tripos offering Paper 3, and candidates for the MML Tripos offering Paper GL13, must answer Section A (a choice of one out of two Epic questions), and Section B (a choice of two out of four questions from the optional modules). Candidates for the Classical Tripos offering Paper 4 must answer Section C (a choice of one out of two Epic questions), and Section D (a choice of two out of four questions from the optional modules). All questions will be of the ‘guided essay’ type (consisting of an essay question to be answered with reference to the appended passage(s)); and all three questions answered by candidates will carry equal weight.

Credit will be given for knowledge of Schedule B texts. In each paper each question carries a third of the marks.

 

Course descriptions

Papers 5-6: Greek and Latin Literature

INTRODUCTION TO LITERARY THEORY

DR I GILDENHARD
(4 L: Easter)

After an introductory lecture devoted to ‘theorizing theory’, we will spend the following three sessions visiting the major ‘sites of meaning’ in literary and cultural studies: the reader, the text, the author and the context. We’ll look at the theoretical inflections these variables have attracted, from antiquity to the present, with some illustrative examples from contemporary classical scholarship. The final lecture will place recent developments in theory in relation to the history of (classical) philology and the modern knowledge industry. The overall aim of these lectures is threefold: (a) to stimulate critical engagement with the basic categories on which we all rely in making sense of texts (and culture more generally); (b) to provide a first mapping of theoretical positions; and (c) to facilitate independent study of a domain of thought and practice that can seem daunting or even off-putting, but is fundamental to everything we do. All are welcome, especially the curious novice. Those wishing to get into the spirit beforehand could do worse than sample Jonathan Culler’s eminently readable Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2011).

 

GUIDED ESSAYS

ANO
(2 L: Easter, weeks 1–2)

There will be discussion and demonstration of how to go about writing a guided essay.

 

Paper 5: Greek Literature

TOPIC 1 Greek Lyric

DR T NELSON
MR IL KWEON SIR
(8 L: Michaelmas, weeks 5-8)

This option aims to introduce students to a wide-ranging selection of archaic and early classical Greek lyric poetry (7th-5th BC), focusing in particular on its various genres and contexts of performance. The course will offer close readings of some of the most fascinating texts to reach us from classical antiquity: Sappho’s poems of love, Alcaeus’ songs of exile, the multifarious elegiac tradition, Anacreon’s odes on eros and wine, Pindar and Bacchylides’ intricate epinicians, and so much more.

Texts will be analysed in detail and interpreted within their various literary and historical contexts, with particular attention paid to diction, style, and overarching themes. We will also discuss the evolution of lyric genres and the often highly complex relationships which obtain between texts and performance context. We may even have time to consider some episodes of reception.

 

TOPIC 2 Dionysos on Stage

DR R LÄMMLE
(8 L: Michaelmas, weeks 1-4)

This course is based around two of the greatest and most famous Athenian plays from the end of the fifth century, Euripides’ Bacchae and Aristophanes’ Frogs (both 405 bc); in both of these plays the god of drama himself, Dionysos, is a central figure, and both reflect, in their own distinctive ways, on the nature of theatre. Not only will this course offer students a chance to study these plays in detail, but questions such as ‘What is Dionysiac about Greek drama?’, and ‘Why does Dionysos get so much stage-time towards the end of the Peloponnesian War?’ will be central to the course.

The B texts are carefully chosen to support the two A texts. Cyclops and Ichneutai, our two major pieces of evidence for satyr-drama, will introduce students to the third and most overtly Dionysiac of the dramatic genres, one defined by its chorus of Dionysos’ satyrs; as the worship of Dionysos is at the heart of the Bacchae, satyr-play, which represents the doings of Dionysos’ satyric followers, is the most obvious comparandum. Cyclops (prob. 408 bc) and Bacchae in particular, which were very likely produced very close in time to each other (and thus to Frogs), share very many Dionysiac themes and are mutually illuminating.

The choice of Persians and Helen invites the students to think about plays which do not feature Dionysos or figures closely associated with him among its personae, but which will help them see what might lie behind the contest of Aeschylus and Euripides in Frogs and understand why Dionysos might initially have been so taken with Euripides. The contrast between our earliest Attic tragedy, one easily represented as martial, patriotic and belonging to the old days (and one explicitly cited in the Frogs) and a very ‘modern’ and ‘late’ escape melodrama, full of typical Euripidean themes such as that of deceptive appearances – and a play of which we know Aristophanes took great notice –, sets out the issues at the core of Frogs in very strong and clear colours. The course will use this opportunity to consider both the history of tragedy in the fifth century and the story which the Athenians themselves told about that history, a story which has much to do with Dionysos, and the music and dance in his honour.

  

TOPIC 3 The Greek Novel

PROF. T WHITMARSH
DR M LEVENTHAL
(8 L: Lent, weeks 1–4)

The novel was the last major genre of Greek literature to appear within antiquity. Of the five texts that survive — stories of passion, sex, danger, and goat-herding — two have been particularly influential ever since: Achilles Tatius’ raunchy Leucippe and Clitophon and Longus’ pastoral Daphnis and Chloe. This module covers the texts in all their exuberant vitality, the cultural context of second-century CE Greece (and the so-called ‘second sophistic’), and the wider issues raised by this material: gender, gay and straight desire, elitism, slavery, and more goat-herding.

 

TOPIC 4 Other Peoples: Herodotus and Greek Ethnography

DR R GAGNÉ
MR F BASSO
(8 L: Lent, weeks 5-8)

Herodotus famously says in a programmatic passage of the Histories (3.38): "Pindar, I believe, was right in his poem: custom (nomos) is lord of all." This module is concerned with Greek representations and understanding of cultural difference. How are the customs of other peoples described and translated into intelligible Greek categories? How did the Greeks make sense of others’ gods? What was involved in knowing other peoples, and what was at stake? How does ancient ethnographic knowledge change? Is Greek ethnography always a reassertion of Greek exceptionalism? Such questions will be pursued through a variety of genres and texts across the centuries, from the Odyssey's seminal narrative of distant travel in the Archaic period, through Classical medical investigations of cultural and physical difference exemplified by the Hippocratic Airs, Waters, Places, to the Imperial relation of India's distant customs mediated through Alexander's conquest in Arrian's Indika.

At the heart of the module is the guiding thread of Herodotus' Histories. Itself the heir of earlier modes of ethnography, the Histories radically refounded knowledge about cultural variation within the inhabited world (the oikoumenē), and provided an overarching model for a whole tradition of later ethnography. The representation of Egypt's remarkably ancient and irreducible difference in Book II of the Histories and the variegated diversity of the customs of the northern Scythian tribes described in Book IV of the Histories will be the core material of our investigation. Herodotus’ reception will be pursued through Lucian's De Dea Syria, a treatise on the cults of Hierapolis (now Manbij) and a creative example of Imperial ethnography, to his immense and consequential influence on Early Modern European ethnography.  

 

Paper 6: Latin Literature

TOPIC 1 Writing Nero: history and biography in Imperial Rome

DR C WHITTON
(8 L: Michaelmas, weeks 1-4)

‘What an artist dies in me!’ But what artistry was involved in putting Nero’s life into text? This topic focuses on two celebrated accounts of an infamous emperor, to consider the ‘biographical turn’ in imperial Rome. Book 14 of Tacitus’ Annals makes monumental history of the years ad 59-62, studded with the deaths of three very different women: mother Agrippina, sister-wife Octavia and the British rebel Boudica. Suetonius’ biography promises the inside story on Nero’s whole life, stuffed with gossip, gore – and more sophistication than often assumed. B texts expand the theme: the anonymous tragedy Octavia stages Nero as tragic tyrant; Tacitus’ Annals 13 sheds harsh light on his first years as adolescent emperor; a century later, Cassius Dio gives his verdict on Nero’s reign and Boudica’s revolt. What do these different modes of ‘writing Nero’ tell us about tyranny, history and memory in the Empire?

For A texts use the prescribed editions above. Two good translations of Tacitus’ Annals (both much better than the Loeb) are John C. Yardley (Oxford World’s Classics, 2008) and Cynthia Damon (Penguin, 2013); the newer Suetonius Loeb (rev. Donna W. Hurley, 1998) has a good translation of his Nero (vol. 2). For the B texts the Loeb editions are most convenient: John G. Fitch, Seneca: tragedies vol. 2 (2004, for Octavia); J. Jackson, Tacitus vol. 4 (1937); E. Cary, Dio Cassius: Roman History vol. 8 (1914). All these Loebs are available online via iDiscover.

The best preparation is to read as much of the A texts as possible in Latin, and the B texts in English. Two introdutions to the topic and scholarship: Donna W. Hurley, ‘Biographies of Nero’, in  A companion to the Neronian age (ed. Buckley and Dinter, 2013), 29-44; Donatien Grau, 'Nero: the making of the historical narrative', in The Cambridge companion to Nero (ed. Bartsch et al., 2017) 261-75. Full bibliography will be provided in the lectures.

 

TOPIC 2 Roman Comedy

DR D BUTTERFIELD
(8 L: Lent, weeks 1-4)

Packed to the gills with tricky slaves, desperate young lovers, seductive courtesans, outraged wives and grumpy fathers, the comedies of Plautus and Terence are an endlessly interesting mix of slapstick and social critique. At times their tales are hilarious, at times baffling. This topic will examine how Roman comedy developed from a unique fusion of Hellenistic drama and native Italic traditions to become the most popular form of entertainment in mid-late Republican Rome. Through close study of two particularly celebrated plays, Plautus’ Menaechmi and Terence’s Adelphoe, we shall consider how Plautus and Terence adapted earlier Greek material to the demands of a Roman audience. But both playwrights were innovators, and made original and distinctive contributions to the Roman comic genre. Plautus’ plays are characterised by elaborate physical and verbal humour, while Terence’s work is more restrained, typically exploring issues of gender, social status, and family relationships. This course will examine some of the major differences in the style of these two playwrights, while situating their work within a broader social context.

Recommended commentaries: A.S. Gratwick, Plautus: Menaechmi (Cambridge, 1993); R.H. Martin, Terence: Adelphoe (Cambridge, 1976). Translations of Plautus’ Miles Gloriosus can be conveniently read in De Melo’s Loeb edition (2011), Terence’s Eunuchus in Barsby’s Loeb (2001), and Menander’s Dyskolos in Brown and Balme (Oxford, 2008).

 

TOPIC 3 Roman youth

PROF. E GOWERS
(8 L: Michaelmas, weeks 5–8)

Adolescence, virginity, marriage, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers: youth was a rich and stimulating topic for Roman writers of poetry and prose. This topic focuses on two entertaining works from the principate: Statius’ Achilleid makes mini-epic farce of Achilles’ sojourn in drag on Scyros, while the ‘Cupid & Psyche’ episode of Apuleius’ novel Metamorphoses (a.k.a. The Golden Ass) puts a girl’s growing pains at the heart of Lucius’ comical-philosophical voyage of self-discovery. Schedule B texts extend the range from Catullus and Ovid through to Augustine in the fourth century.

Recommended editions: (1) O. A. W. Dilke, Statius: Achilleid (Cambridge, 1954; reprinted with new introduction by R. Cowan, Bristol, 2005); (2) E. J. Kenney, Apuleius: Cupid & Psyche (Cambridge, 1990).

A full bibliography will be provided in the lectures.

 

TOPIC 4 Latin Love Elegy

Dr T KEAREY
ANO
(8 L: Lent, weeks 5-8)

The genre of Roman love elegy rose and fell in the space of half a century, from Catullus to Ovid; in its short flourishing, it produced some of the most famous and influential Latin poetry to survive from antiquity. Poets like Propertius and Tibullus turned away from the traditional markers of conventional upper-class Roman masculinity, instead writing first-person poetry about their romantic entanglements with a beloved woman or boy. Their poetry scrutinises the enduring question of what it means to be in love (and/or to write about love): desire as obsession, madness, suffering, rage or loss; intricacies of gender and sexuality; authorial self-presentation and poetic identity; set-piece tropes of slavery, warfare and lamentation. Sulpicia’s poetry, written from a woman’s perspective, complicates the picture, and Ovid adds a hearty dose of irony and self-consciousness. This course explores the genre in all its rich complexity. Along the way we will explore how Roman elegists used the topic of love to write about other things too: society, politics and empire; friendship and rivalry; violence and subjection; dreams, magic and death; the Latin and Greek literary tradition.


 

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