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Setting up a reading plan for Latin Elegy

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Setting up a reading plan for Latin Elegy

Postby huilen » Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:37 am

I'm trying to set up a plan for reading Latin Elegy. Could you give me some help making a representative (or capricious!) selection of texts, and choosing some bibliography? I understand the topic is immense, but I would like to dedicate some time to it, and I would appreciate some orientation. With bibliography I mean text books, papers, but also editions and commentaries. I would prefer to focus on entire collections (not isolated poems), maybe something like a good commentary to some of the works with a very good introduction/prologue would be what I'm looking for.

This is what I've read till now:

Some of Ovid's Heroides (I've read this selection and I absolutely loved it: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ovid-Heroides- ... 0521362792)

Some fragments of Ovid's Ars Amatoria (long time ago, I would like to read it complete and with a good commentary).

Catullus' Lesbia cycle, but not from a commented edition.

I've also started with Propertius' Elegies Book 4, but it definitively wasn't a good choice to start, most of elegies are not love elegies and it didn't seem to me very representative of the tradition.

Note that till now I've put the focus on Love Elegy, but I'm not necessarily limiting to it.
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Re: Setting up a reading plan for Latin Elegy

Postby mwh » Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:08 am

A few random off-the-cuff suggestions to kick things off.

If you want love elegy Ovid’s Amores is what you should read. Would make a good starting point I should think. You could read them without a commentary. Pay attention to the structure and development of each poem.

There’s a good commentary on Ars Amatoria bk.3 (advice to women, not men) by Roy Gibson, but it may be more than you want at this point.

That Knox selection was an excellent choice on the Heroides.

As you’ll know, most of Catullus’ Lesbia poems are not in elegiacs. Catullus’ shorter elegiac poems or epigrams (nos. 69-116) are a mixed bag. Remember he comes well before the Augustans.

Quintilian and apparently Ovid admired Tibullus. I don’t. There’s a decent and not too challenging commentary by Michael Putnam.

Sulpicia (included in the Tibullan corpus) has come in for a lot of attention in recent years. (Male scholars tend to contest female authorship, while female feminist scholars champion it. Sad.)

Propertius I would wait on a while, and leave bk.4 till last (like Beethoven’s late string quartets), but then read it with Hutchinson’s comm. As I warned in the other thread, the text is tormented.

There’s a lot of post-Augustan elegiac verse too, mostly epigrams. Martial for instance, and much more, and much later, some of it very interesting.

There must now be Handbooks on Roman Elegy which you’d probably find useful for orientation and bibliography. I haven't seen Paul Allen Miller's Reader (Latin Erotic Elegy) but it might possibly be just what you're after.
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Re: Setting up a reading plan for Latin Elegy

Postby Hylander » Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:23 pm

I too feel that Tibullus is the weakest of the Roman elegiac poets.

I just ordered the Miller anthology, so I can't comment on it, but it does look helpful.

Ovid is the most technically adept of the Roman elegists--I think he probably spoke, thought and dreamed in distichs. But much of the pleasure of reading him lies in his humor and playfulness -- in particular, the way he turns the conventions of erotic elegy and Greek erotic epigram on their head, especially in the Amores. So you have to be aware of the conventions to get the most out of Ovid -- the scorned lover spending the night outside the door of the object of his affections. There is also much "intertextual" evocation of Greek and Roman poets, very often in a humorous or parodic vein.
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Re: Setting up a reading plan for Latin Elegy

Postby huilen » Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:36 pm

Thanks a lot :D

I think I will start with Ovid's Amores, and taking a look to Kindle's sample edition of Paul Allen Miller's handbook.

Ovid is the most technically adept of the Roman elegists--I think he probably spoke, thought and dreamed in distichs. But much of the pleasure of reading him lies in his humor and playfulness -- in particular, the way he turns the conventions of erotic elegy and Greek erotic epigram on their head, especially in the Amores. So you have to be aware of the conventions to get the most out of Ovid -- the scorned lover spending the night outside the door of the object of his affections. There is also much "intertextual" evocation of Greek and Roman poets, very often in a humorous or parodic vein.


I understand, then shouldn't I read some prototipical elegy first to get familiarized with genre conventions? I know a little though (the motives of the exclusus amator, the militia amoris, the Παρακλαυσίθυρον, right?), but from later medieval tradition, the troubadour poetry for example, or maybe those poets of which Francisco de Quevedo said "let each one cry in his house if he have what, and let him die of natural death, without blaming his lady: since there is sometimes more deaths in a copla than there is in a year of plague. And then, after we got tired of them, they live thousand years more than her for whom they were dying." ("cada uno llore en su casa si tiene qué, y muera de su muerte natural sin echar la culpa a su dama: que hay a veces más muertes en una copla, que hay en año de peste, Y después de habernos cansado, viven mil años más que por quien morían.")
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Re: Setting up a reading plan for Latin Elegy

Postby cantator » Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:32 am

Greetings,

You might do well with Harrington's Roman Elegiac Poets.

https://www.amazon.com/Roman-Elegiac-Wi ... giac+poets

That link points to an edition I have not used. My well-worn volume is the 1968 reprint of the 1914 edition.

Btw, don't forget about Martial.

Best,

dp
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