23 episodes

This subject explores Ancient Roman epic poetry, the literary genre which deals with grand mythical narratives involving heroes, gods, war, and love affairs.

Epic was the most prestigious literary form in the ancient world. Roman poets adapted and developed Greek epic, particularly influenced by the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. Roman epics similarly deal with divine and heroic material, but Roman poets also weave contemporary and topical themes into the mythical subject matter.

The primary text for this subject is Ovid's Metamorphoses, which tells many comic tales of the gods in love and encounters between heroes and monsters through a series of transformations.

Epics which influenced Ovid will also be studied, such as the Greek epics of Homer, the early Roman epics of Naevius and Ennius, and Virgil's Aeneid, which was the most significant influence on Ovid. We shall also consider Ovid as a major influence upon Western artists and writers, from Shakespeare to David Malouf.

Epics of Rome La Trobe University

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This subject explores Ancient Roman epic poetry, the literary genre which deals with grand mythical narratives involving heroes, gods, war, and love affairs.

Epic was the most prestigious literary form in the ancient world. Roman poets adapted and developed Greek epic, particularly influenced by the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. Roman epics similarly deal with divine and heroic material, but Roman poets also weave contemporary and topical themes into the mythical subject matter.

The primary text for this subject is Ovid's Metamorphoses, which tells many comic tales of the gods in love and encounters between heroes and monsters through a series of transformations.

Epics which influenced Ovid will also be studied, such as the Greek epics of Homer, the early Roman epics of Naevius and Ennius, and Virgil's Aeneid, which was the most significant influence on Ovid. We shall also consider Ovid as a major influence upon Western artists and writers, from Shakespeare to David Malouf.

    Afterlife II: The Novel

    Afterlife II: The Novel

    The Aeneid and Metamorphoses have continued to be rediscovered and reinterpreted throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The two world wars which defined the first half of the 20th century forced a reconsideration of all war poetry, particularly the Aeneid, which began to be recognised as a work of art which dealt with loss and lament just as much as glory and patriotism - a work which potentially questioned militarism and imperialism. Meanwhile Ovid's explorations of love, desire and identity chimed with the development of psychoanalysis, while his apparently chaotic epic became a major focus of interest later in the 20th century as post-modernism championed non-linear narratives and questioned the permanence of boundaries. Again, it was Ovid in particular who provided the springboard for many new texts, particularly the short story, which often resulted in dramatically diverse updates of the stories in the Metamorphoses.

    Copyright 2014 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

    • 44 min
    Afterlife II: The Novel (handout)

    Afterlife II: The Novel (handout)

    The Aeneid and Metamorphoses have continued to be rediscovered and reinterpreted throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The two world wars which defined the first half of the 20th century forced a reconsideration of all war poetry, particularly the Aeneid, which began to be recognised as a work of art which dealt with loss and lament just as much as glory and patriotism - a work which potentially questioned militarism and imperialism. Meanwhile Ovid's explorations of love, desire and identity chimed with the development of psychoanalysis, while his apparently chaotic epic became a major focus of interest later in the 20th century as post-modernism championed non-linear narratives and questioned the permanence of boundaries. Again, it was Ovid in particular who provided the springboard for many new texts, particularly the short story, which often resulted in dramatically diverse updates of the stories in the Metamorphoses.

    Copyright 2014 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

    Afterlife I: Late Latin and Renaissance

    Afterlife I: Late Latin and Renaissance

    Virgil and Ovid were both incredibly influential upon later poetry and culture, and in this lecture we look at some of the texts which look back to their epics in the late antique period through to the Renaissance, in particular Claudian's Rape of Proserpina and Shakespeare's poetry and drama, as well as other creative arts. By looking at the reception of Roman epic we gain some perspective on these ancient works and can appreciate how they were read and interpreted by their European cultural inheritors.

    Copyright 2014 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

    • 38 min
    Afterlife I: Late Latin and Renaissance (handout)

    Afterlife I: Late Latin and Renaissance (handout)

    Virgil and Ovid were both incredibly influential upon later poetry and culture, and in this lecture we look at some of the texts which look back to their epics in the late antique period through to the Renaissance, in particular Claudian's Rape of Proserpina and Shakespeare's poetry and drama, as well as other creative arts. By looking at the reception of Roman epic we gain some perspective on these ancient works and can appreciate how they were read and interpreted by their European cultural inheritors.

    Copyright 2014 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

    'I shall live': Immortality

    'I shall live': Immortality

    Ovid ends his work with a series of deifications: Julius Caesar becomes a god; Augustus will become a god. This most allusive and transformative of texts apparently ends with a pat celebration of the Julian family. However, this is not the end at all, for Ovid actually completes his work with his own immortality: he will live through his work and thus go beyond death and also beyond the holders of political power. It is a confident statement of the transcendence of poetry. Yet nothing is stable in Ovid's world, and the final book also contains a lengthy speech by the philosopher Pythagoras, whose beliefs include the perpetual rebirth of souls into new bodies. Is this an attempt to give a theoretical underpinning to the epic? Or does it once again snatch the rug from under the reader's feet?!

    Copyright 2014 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

    • 50 min
    'I shall live': Immortality (handout)

    'I shall live': Immortality (handout)

    Ovid ends his work with a series of deifications: Julius Caesar becomes a god; Augustus will become a god. This most allusive and transformative of texts apparently ends with a pat celebration of the Julian family. However, this is not the end at all, for Ovid actually completes his work with his own immortality: he will live through his work and thus go beyond death and also beyond the holders of political power. It is a confident statement of the transcendence of poetry. Yet nothing is stable in Ovid's world, and the final book also contains a lengthy speech by the philosopher Pythagoras, whose beliefs include the perpetual rebirth of souls into new bodies. Is this an attempt to give a theoretical underpinning to the epic? Or does it once again snatch the rug from under the reader's feet?!

    Copyright 2014 Rhiannon Evans / La Trobe University, all rights reserved. Contact for permissions.

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