Classically Inclined

July 4, 2011

The tail end of Ovid’s Ars

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 9:01 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m delighted to announce that the Ovid passage I’ve been preparing for the Online Companion to “The Worlds of Roman Women” has now gone up on the website! I’ve already written about the process of picking a passage and preparing the materials, and I wanted to finish off this mini-series of blog posts by writing a little bit about the process behind actually getting the passage up on line.  

As I said in my previous post, the first thing to happen was a discussion between myself and my editor, Ann, about questions she had about the text and glosses I’d sent her. This collaborative work makes a vital contribution to the strengths of the Companion; I brought her up to speed on the latest scholarship on the text, in the form of Roy Gibson’s Cambridge commentary on Ars Amatoria 3, and she brought fresh eyes to a couple of passages of the text which I’d got unnecessarily twisted into knots over. We sorted out our issues by clarifying some of the notes and including a handful of references to Gibson’s commentary at appropriate points (Gibson’s text differs from the OCT, so the differences needed flagging up for anyone trying to use that edition). Ann also helped to refine the glosses I’d prepared and get them more in line with the Companion‘s house style. (more…)

May 9, 2011

How do you solve a problem like the Amatoria?

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 12:16 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Phew! At the weekend, I finally finished the text, commentary and introductory essay for the Online Companion to “The Worlds of Roman Women” that I mentioned in an earlier post. This is brilliant because the project has been getting done in dribs and drabs, so it’s a good achievement to have the materials sent off to the website editor so we can move into the next stage of getting the passage on-line. Now that I’ve finished off this first part of the process, I wanted to talk a little bit about what creating a passage like this involves. It’s the kind of work that normally doesn’t get talked about, and it’s actually a rather interesting intellectual exercise – so interesting, in fact, that a number of the passages on the site have been prepared by students in courses where creating a commentary has been an assignment.

The aim of the Companion is to provide thorough grammar notes that are easy to understand, and that students can navigate without professorial help; a preliminary essay that focuses the text specifically on women and their lives; and suitable images to place text in the world of material culture that it references. The images I don’t have to worry about so much; when I submit a passage, the editors scan the vast files of VRoma, an associated project, to find what they need. At this first stage, it’s my responsibility to generate the first version of the text, commentary notes and essay.

The first part of the process is whittling down a suitable passage from all of Latin literature, consulting with the editors to make sure the passage you pick fits in with their master-vision for the site. I initially wanted to do something from the Priapea, but alas, there was nothing high-school friendly in the entire corpus (but I will write about these poems another time). The third book of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria fits the site’s mission both in terms of being addressed explicitly to female readers and slotting nicely into one of the conceptual worlds that organise  the Companion. We narrowed the choices down to three possible selections – 3.235-250, in which a nasty mistress mistreats her slave hairdresser; 3.255-280, on minimising defects; and 3.281-310, on adjusting one’s laughter and walk to attract a man. I went for the third passage, with a view to doing the second at some point in the future.


April 25, 2011

Keeping company with Ovid and his Ars

In my current research project, or the one that is taking up what brainspace I have free from completing job applications, I’m working up a text and commentary for the Online Companion to “The Worlds of Roman Women”“The Worlds of Roman Women” is a  language textbook designed to teach Latin at the intermediate level with a thematic interest in teaching students about cultural history at the same time; the Companion takes it that one step further and provides texts with hyperlinked glosses, a short essay to introduce each passage, and appropriate supporting images. The texts are all organised into Worlds, so teachers can pick passages that look at marriage, the family, the body, flirtation, or any other area that interests them.

I’m a collaborator with the site, which basically involves proofreading new contributions when they go up, and contributing my own passages now and then. I’ve previously done two texts and commentaries; the first was Tacitus’ account of the death of Pompeia Paulina, Seneca’s wife, while the second was a description of Seneca’s aunt and her courage after her husband was killed in a shipwreck from his Consolation to Helvia. As you may have astutely spotted, these two passages are both pretty directly related to my Ph.D. thesis. Half of chapter one was dedicated to the Consolation to Helvia, while the Tacitus passage provided pretty crucial evidence for chapter three.

This time, though, I’ve decided to go a different route, for two reasons. First, I’m bored of prose! Well, that’s an exaggeration, but I’ve spent my whole Ph.D. looking at prose, and I wanted to ease myself back into some poetry, not least of all because I have two nascent articles that look at poetic texts. Second, the Body world of the Companion is a bit thin, and I thought it would be a good idea to bulk it up. This gives me an excellent reason to get into one of my favourite texts that I haven’t been able to play with for a while: Ovid’s Ars Amatoria, and more specifically, book three thereof.

Those of you who are unfamiliar with the Ars will be interested to know that it’s Ovid’s poetic handbook for how to seduce members of the opposite sex – where to hang about to meet girls, what pick-up lines to use, what techniques to employ to gain a furtive caress (and more), that sort of thing. The first two books address male readers, but the third decides that all’s fair in love and war, and attempts to teach the female reader how she might get her man, going so far as to advise how to ensure the most flattering views of one’s body during sex. We can’t really include those kinds of passages in a resource that’s targeting high school as well as college students, but there’s plenty of less X-rated material about posture and how to carry oneself that’s good fodder for the Companion’s intended audience. The passage I’m currently preparing focuses on how to laugh and cry attractively, and the most becoming way to walk – and I’ll talk a little bit about how I’m preparing the text another time.

Create a free website or blog at