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BA Classics / Course details
Year of entry: 2023
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Course unit details:
Ovid: the Mythological Poems
|Unit level||Level 2|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Available as a free choice unit?||Yes|
This course concentrates on the mythological poems of the Augustan poet, Ovid.
This course aims :
- To engage in thorough reading of the core mythological poems of Ovid (Metamorphoses and Fasti), leading to knowledge of and critical thought about the texts and analyses of them.
- To explore the intertextual background to the set texts, especially focusing on the Greek and Roman epic tradition,together with their reception by later cultures.
- To analyse the poetic, generic, and thematic features of the set texts.In the summatively assessed essay, students will be required to address their question taking account of both Metamorphoses and Fasti.
See specific outcomes listed below
In Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, an older monk responds to the question of his junior as to whether he has ever been in love by saying "many times -- Virgil, Ovid...". Many ages have been in love with Ovid, who is currently the darling of the post-modern critical world, as he was of the mediaeval troubadours and monastic scribes, while in between such giants of early modern English literature at Shakespeare would have subscribed to the view that "Ovid was master" (from Ovid's own Art of Love 2.744). This course will concentrate on the Ovidian poems whose subject matter is broadly mythological: his great, but incorrigibly playful, epic of the world of change, the Metamorphoses; and his elegiac poem on the Roman calendar, where myth explains religion, the Fasti.
The lectures will be broadly thematic, although concentrating at different times on different poems. Themes to be addressed include:
- Ovid’s place in the intertextual tradition, particularly with regard to Virgil and to Callimachus
- The Romanness of Greek mythology, and vice versa
- Art and artistry
- Gender and transgression
- The place of violence in Roman myths and aesthetics
- Fantasy and realism
- Psychology and the uses of mythology
- Poetry and politics in the later Augustan period
Teaching and learning methods
- 2 x 1 hour lectures per week;
- 1 x 1 hour seminar per week;
- 1 dedicated consultation hour per week.
- Blackboard: course material, handouts and other supporting materials.
Knowledge and understanding
By the end of this course all students will be able to:
- demonstrate knowledge of these central texts of Ovidian poetry, and of their relations to other elements in the Graeco-Roman literary tradition, as well as the cultural politics of their reception in Augustan Rome
- offer informed close readings of Ovidian poems and passages, with some degree of independent reading, as well as to consider larger issues and make wide-ranging connections both within the Ovidian corpus and beyond it
By the end of this course students will have:
- For linguists: the ability to translate, scan, and critically analyse the passages set from the Metamorphoses, within the context of knowledge of the whole of the Metamorphoses and Fasti.
- For non-linguists: the ability to engage directly with the text of the poems Metamorphoses and Fasti in translation.
By the end of this course students will be able to:
- manage time and resources
Transferable skills and personal qualities
By the end of this course students will be able to:
- construct an argument in written and oral form
- pose questions about complex issues
- assimilate and summarise large quantities of evidence
- locate and retrieve relevant information from primary sources
- engage in critical discussion
- The course involves a large number of important employment skills, most notably an ability to analyse and examine a large amount of often difficult information, an ability to see both sides of an argument, the ability to synthesise an argument in a cogent form, the ability to retrieve information from complex sources and present it in a compelling and cogent fashion.
|Written assignment (inc essay)||50%|
- Written feedback on formative and summative coursework; all coursework feedback is designed to contribute formatively towards improvement in subsequent assignments.
- Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment).
Students are expected to acquire copies of the following, and to read them before the course begins.
- Ovid ‘Metamorphoses’, translated by David Raeburn (introduction by Denis Feeney). Penguin books, 2004. ISNB: 9780140447897.
- Ovid ‘Fasti’, translated and edited by Anthony Boyle and Roger Woodward. Penguin books, 2000. ISBN: 9780140446906.
- For linguists only: Linguists will make use of online resources to access the prescribed Latin texts, which will be explained at the beginning of the semester. In advance of the course, you are strongly advised to read the poems in English translation
Other indicative reading:
Students are strongly advised to read some of the following before the course begins.
Boyd, B. W. (2002) Brill’s Companion to Ovid. Leiden.
- Available online through the library. Particularly recommended are Chapter 6 on Fasti, Chapter 7 on politics history and religion, Chapter 9 on narrative techniques, Chapter 10 on Roman history and Augustan politics in 11-15.
Hardie, P. R. (2002) The Cambridge Companion to Ovid. Cambridge.
- Available online through the library. Particularly recommended are Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13.
Knox, P. E. (ed.) (2009) A Companion to Ovid. Oxford. (Blackwell Companions)
- Available online through the library. See particularly Chapters 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, 17, 25.
Other introductory reading includes:
Brown, S. (2005) Ovid: Myth and Metamorphosis. London.
Fantham, E. (2004) Ovid Metamorphoses. Oxford.
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Independent study hours|
|Alison Sharrock||Unit coordinator|