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LATIN 520 A: Seminar

Meeting Time: 
TTh 3:30pm - 5:20pm
* *
Stephen Hinds 2021 portrait photo
Stephen E. Hinds

Syllabus Description:

Autumn 2021   Latin 520:  graduate seminar   Ovid Metamorphoses  

Stephen Hinds

5 credits   SLN: 17268  

TTh 3:30-5:20 pm   Denny 257 (Dept Seminar: Meg Greenfield Room)


“The Metamorphoses tells utterly memorable stories about the aspirations and sufferings which define and threaten the human condition; from the poem’s characteristic aestheticization of those sufferings comes both its surface brightness and its profound and continuing power to disturb.”  Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd-5th edn.


This graduate-level course will investigate the literary, mythic and cultural dimensions of Ovid’s 2,013-year old epic, exploring its narrative tours de force, considering its ways with Hellenism, mapping its rich poetic pasts and futures, and exploring its dreams and nightmares of human and non-human experience.  Although the course is listed as a seminar, for much of the time we will proceed sequentially through selected books and episodes, not without regular bursts of in-class reading.  Further decisions about format will follow, and will be properly responsive to developments in the campus’s emergence from the pandemic.

(If you bring an interest in Ovid from a graduate program other than that of the Department of Classics, and have some Latin, the course may work:  please contact instructor.) 


UPDATES May 24 2021:

My current plan is to cover the following, including most of Met. 1 and all Met. 8 (on the Classics PhD reading list): 

    Book 1 (most; skip Deucalion and Pyrrha, Python, Phaethon)

    Book 3 (Actaeon, Tiresias, Narcissus and Echo)

    Book 4 (daughters of Minyas and their tales)

    Book 5 (Persephone via pools:  Enna, Cyane, Arethusa)

    Book 6 (Minerva and Arachne)

    Book 8 (all)

    Book 9 (Byblis and Caunus, Iphis)

    Book 10 (Orpheus and Eurydice, Cyparissus, song of Orpheus thru end of Pygmalion)

    Book 11 (death of Orpheus)

    Book 15 (final prayer and envoi)

Overall coverage of the poem will average between 150 and 200 lines per class meeting.  Of this, about 75-100 lines per meeting, 3-4 pages of the Oxford Classical Text (OCT), will be designated ahead of time for especially close study; this will be the core Latin assignment, with some latitude in how the rest of the assignment is prepared.

Our required text (now available at the University Bookstore) will be the 2004 OCT of R.J. Tarrant (P. Ovidi Nasonis Metamorphoses, Oxford UP 2004); optional but highly recommended (also at U Bookstore) will be the Oxford World’s Classics translation (Ovid: Metamorphoses, tr. A.D. Melville, OUP 1986), with introduction and brief notes by E.J. Kenney, for a quick fix on parts of the poem not covered in Latin.  Along with the required commentary (see below:  no purchase needed), further enlargement will come from consultation of key books and articles.  A physical copy of Tarrant is highly recommended, but – full disclosure – we do seem to have online access to the eBook via UW Libraries.

Our required commentary is an exclusive.  Alessandro Barchiesi will make available to us, in advance pdf files, the long-anticipated English update of the acclaimed commentary published in Italian (Ovidio, Metamorfosi, Milan: Mondadori) between 2005 and 2015 under his overall editorship:  Barchiesi (Bks 1-3), Gianpiero Rosati (Bks 4-6), E.J. Kenney (Bks 7-9), J.D. Reed (Bks 10-12), Philip Hardie (Bks 13-15).  Our chance to beta-test this work comes more than a year ahead of its publication by Cambridge UP. 


Last updated: 
April 13, 2021 - 3:26am