Sunday, March 9, 2014

Another first for Ovid

Ovid's Heroides as fan fiction:

Sappho and Phaon
Ovid, in my opinion, is first author to truly take the time to write his version of a “fan fiction.” A fan fiction is when a “fan” of a show, book, or series takes the time to write an alternative ending or even a sequel to the already established lore.
via rogueclassicism

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Where's Ovid?

The ancient Black Sea town of Tomis (today Constanta) was Ovid's home in exile. Today a statue of the poet designed by the sculptor Ettore Ferrari in 1887 stands in Ovid Square.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Languages of Iron-Age Italy

In our reading of Ovid we had touched upon the ecosystem of languages of Italy before Rome made Latin "the" language. This video offers some recent interesting research on the subject. A link to a site with further info is below.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A poet reads Ovid

Reading the Metamorphoses on a Transatlantic Flight

In Ovid, where the birds are manifestations of our grief,
we watch the tyrant Tereus who has just supped on the flesh
of his own son, transformed by loss and desire for revenge
into a stiff-crested hoopoe with a pronged beak to replace his sword. 
We watch Ino's distraught servant girls assume the shapes
of shearwaters as they follow their mistress over Juno's cliffs,
and poor Cycnus, his love forever undeclared, turned
to a swan as he laments the sudden death of Phaeton. 
We watch, thinking past the allegory, knowing no heron
springs up from our empathy when we see, through
the windscreen, a car pushed to the side of the highway
where shattered glass shines like a recent shower of rain 
and a state trooper stoops to lay down his orange flames
as the traffic slows and weaves its way round him.
Or at least that's what I've come to think up here,
winged with so many others in this approximate manner 
somewhere between Saint Johns and the Blaskets, spine
of this book open across my knees, now, that our son's asleep,
now that Icarus has flapped his homemade wings,
begun to rise away from the earth, his father's terse warning. 
How can we keep him from the harm this world can be,
our rose-cheeked boy, named for your uncle who drove a truck
through Queens, delivering cheesecakes and key lime pies
to the diners of Flushing and Kew Gardens? 
Ginger head resting across your arm, he knows nothing
of how he's borne aloft on jet fuel and aluminum, his first flight
marked by the thin yellow line we track across the screen
as we bear him, like an offering, towards the place I still call home, 
the roads corkscrewing into the mountains, a broken rosary
of tidy towns where, driving once, I saw a man stripped
to the waist, chained to a sign, on what must have been the morning
after his stag night. Body smeared with treacle and feathers, 
skin red and dry, it was as if he were a sunburned boy
just fallen from the sky; aware suddenly of his own limits,
the lack of anything like ichor in his veins. And even in the body
of this plane we're grounded things, doing our best 
to ignore the turbulence, channel surfing or pacing to pass
the time while the wine trembles in our plastic cups
and the seatbelt signs flash on and off and on.
It will be hours before we see dry land again, cats' eyes 
on the runway leading us towards the gate, the baggage claim,
the sudden weight of sleeplessness and cups of strong coffee.
Meantime, the clouds are like something from a cartoon,
and the birds go on mocking what Ovid makes of them, 
picking the eyes out of the dead as if they were baubles or beads,
the shrike driving its beak through the field mouse
at great speed, marsh hawks amok among the winter trees.
If they could they would laugh at Icarus as he falls 
face first towards the waves that will take possession of his limbs,
they'd laugh at Scylla in that instant before she becomes
one of them, as she loses her grip on the keel of that Cretan ship
and, for a split second, is simply falling.
via Poetry Daily via a friend.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Slavery, freedom, and the body

In the latest NYRB, there's a fascinating review of a book with a provocative thesis about sexuality, slavery, and freedom in ancient Rome and the early era of Christianity.

The book is From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity by Kyle Harper. The reviewer is historian Peter Brown. It begins:
One of the most lasting delights and challenges of the study of the ancient world, and of the Roman Empire in particular, is the tension between familiarity and strangeness that characterizes our many approaches to it. It is like a great building, visible from far away, at the end of a straight road that cuts across what seems to be a level plain. Only when we draw near are we brought up sharp, on the edge of a great canyon, invisible from the road, that cuts its way between us and the monument we seek. We realize that we are looking at this world from across a sheer, silent drop of two thousand years. [More]
 One question is to what extent that silence can be ever so slightly lifted by listening carefully.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Aristotle on Pythagoras

Given the prominence offered Pythagoras in Metamorphoses 15, it might be worth noting that Aristotle's early work in the dialogue form, entitled Protrepticus, was preoccupied with the work of that early school of philosophy. The link goes to a new reconstruction of Aristotle's piece, apparently composed while he was still a student at Plato's Academy.

In this snippet from the dialogue, a character named Heraclides is speaking of Pythagoras:
He took a philosophical view of many of the truths of mathematics, and made them part and parcel of his own projects, even the ones handed down to him by others, and made them fit in a suitable arrangement, he conducted the appropriate investigations about them, and produced the same agreement always in all respects, so that it never violates its logical consequence.
And he fashioned them into a starting point for his instruction, which was capable of guiding his listeners, if any of them by sufficient experience could understand the terms sufficiently. Indeed, in the purity, subtlety, and precision of his demonstrations, surpassing every similar type of theoretical observation of other things, he both employs great clarity and sets out from evident facts; and the most beautiful thing in it turns out to be its being high-minded and aspiring to the primary causes, and it both fashions its teachings for the sake of practical affairs and also lays hold of the things in a pure way, the mathematical theorems at times even combining with the theological ones. [68.2]

via rogueclassicism

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On to Hippolytus

More to say about Ovid, but for now, we're over here reading Euripides' Hippolytus.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Blog for latest project: Hippolytus

As our group has turned to Euripides' Hippolytus, blogging about that text will occur on the somewhat spiffed-up old Sarasota Classics Blog. So far, it has two posts:
Some words in Euripides' Hippolytus 

Troezen, Argos and the Peloponnese