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Lesley Dean-Jones, Chair 2210 Speedway, Mail Code C3400, Austin, TX 78712-1738 • 512-471-5742

Spring 2004

LAT 323 • Latin Poetry & Prose: Junior Reading

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
28920 TTh
8:00 AM-9:30 AM
WAG 112

Course Description

Although perhaps best known as the author of the Amores or the Metamorphoses, Ovid also experimented in the epistolary genre, composing two collections of poetic love letters and several books of elegiac letters from exile in Tomis. This course will focus on the love letters—Ovid’s single and double Heroides. The Heroides are epistolary elegies (or elegiac epistles) composed by mythological women (and Sappho) for the lovers who have abandoned them. In the case of the double Heroides, we have both sides of the amatory correspondence. In these poems, we finally “hear” the voices of familiar literary women-- Medea, Dido, Ariadne, Penelope, Helen—whose stories previously were told from the perspective of their male lover. Ovid may not qualify as a feminist, but his poems are remarkable for their complex psychological characterizations. The rhetorician Quintilian observed that, while Ovid was a talented poet, he was excessively fond of his own genius (nimius amator ingenii sui). I leave it to you to decide whether Ovid’s elegant wit and cleverness is excessive, but there is little doubt that the poet was endowed with an ample genius. In addition to reading large parts of the Latin text, we will also look at a range of recent secondary articles on the Heroides. By reading these articles, you will gain some perspective on how scholars have approached the task of interpreting these complex but satisfying letter poems.


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