Saturday, June 2, 2007

Ovid's Metamorphoses

Publius Ovidius Naso (Sulmona, March 20, 43 BC – Tomis, now Constanţa AD 17), a Roman poet known to the English-speaking world as Ovid, wrote on topics of love, abandoned women and mythological transformations. Ranked alongside Virgil and Horace as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature, Ovid was generally considered the greatest master of the elegiac couplet. His poetry, much imitated during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, had a decisive influence on European art and literature for centuries.

The Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses by the Roman poet Ovid is a poem in fifteen books that describes the creation and history of the world in terms according to Greek and Roman points of view. Probably written in 8 BCE, it has remained one of the most popular works of mythology, being the Classical work best known to medieval writers and thus having a great deal of influence on medieval poetry.


Friday, June 1, 2007

The Poetry of Horace

June 2007 begins our term study of Latin Poetry. We have several wonderful selections scheduled including: The Works of Horace (Odes, Epodes, Satires and Ars Poetica) and Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Quintus Horatius Flaccus, (December 8, 65 BC - November 27, 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.

Background and Links to Texts

While in Greece, Horace joined the army of Brutus and fought at Philippi as military tribune. As a result of being on the losing side against Octavian and Mark Antony, Horace's family's property was confiscated.

In 39 B.C., after Augustus granted amnesty, Horace became a secretary in the Roman treasury. In 38, Horace met and became the client of the artists' patron Maecenas, who provided Horace with a villa in the Sabine Hills. Augustus favored Horace, commissioning him to write the Carmen Saeculare for the Secular Games of 17 B.C.

When Horace died at age 59, he left his estate to Augustus and was buried near the tomb of Maecenas.


Notes on Reading Horace

Many scholars prefer John Dryden's translation of Horace and usually we try and read the very best translation to date. However, Dryden's version is not available online. If you have access to it and would like to read it, please feel free to do so. For our online readers, we will be using Christopher Smart's translation (1767) which is available through a variety of free sources.

Complete Works from Project Gutenberg (Text)

  • The Works of Horace by Christopher Smart, A.M. of Pembroke College, Cambridge; includes Odes, Epodes, Satires and the Book of Poetry

Complete Works from Perseus (HTML/Web)

Note: While I find the Perseus system awkward to read, the advantage to using their website is that all the footnotes and scholary helps are conveniently located at the bottom of each page.

Complete Works Other Formats

Selected Works from Project Gutenberg (Text)

Study Questions